Back in 1998, Wesley Snipes’ Blade was one of Marvel’s first major attempts to bring their comic book characters to the movies. The success of Blade not only led to a trilogy for the vampire hunter, but also provided Marvel with proof that the superhero film could be profitable, leading to films like X-Men and Spider-Man soon after. With Marvel working on rebooting the Blade franchise, the 58-year-old Snipes won’t be returning as the title character, but a new rumor hints that Snipes will still be involved with the franchise going forward.
In a rumor from Geekosity Editor-in-Chief Mikey Sutton, apparently, Marvel is interested in having Wesley Snipes help in Blade’s return. Sutton hints that Snipes might play a villain, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Dracula, or possible Blade’s mentor, Abraham Whistler. With Marvel looking to be playing with multiverses in Phase 4, maybe Snipes will even return as an alternate dimension version of Blade?
For a rated-R superhero franchise that began prior to the superhero movie boom of the early 2000s, Wesley Snipes’ Blade trilogy was a surprising success. The first film made $131 million worldwide, while the Guillermo del Toro-directed sequel, Blade II, made $155 million against a budget of $54 million. The final installment, 2004’s Blade: Trinity, made $131 million worldwide. While the Blade franchise was never an overwhelming success in the United States, Blade certainly paved the way for the future of superhero films.
There were rumors back in 2014 that Wesley Snipes might actually return as Blade in a fourth installment of the series, with Snipes saying, “I’d be open to it. I think we’ve got some stones left unturned and there’s some latitude left for us to build on and I’d love to get back in the suit again and do something I’ve learned how to do now that I didn’t know how to do them.”
However, at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel President Kevin Feige said that taking over the role from Wesley Snipes would be two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. While the news came as a surprise, this wasn’t the first character Ali had played for Marvel, as the actor had played Cottonmouth in the first season of the Netflix series Luke Cage.
While the original Blade trilogy was completely separate from the other Marvel series that were popping up in the early 2000s, the implication seems to be that eventually, Mahershala Ali’s Blade would eventually be fighting alongside other superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Considering Marvel seems to be getting ready to represent the superhero films that occurred outside their Marvel Cinematic Universe, it makes sense that Marvel would want to bring back Wesley Snipes in some capacity.
Wesley Snipes has also been experiencing somewhat of a career resurgence in recent years. In 2015, he reunited with Spike Lee for the first time in 24 years for Chi-Raq. Snipes also received some of the best reviews of his career for his performance in 2019’s Dolemite Is My Name. Later this year, Snipes will also appear in the highly-anticipated Coming 2 America, from Dolemite Is My Name director Craig Brewer. Amazon Studios purchased the film for a whopping $125 million and is scheduled for release on December 18, 2020.
Even though this Blade reboot was announced in 2019, it’s unclear when we’ll see Mahershala Ali take over from Wesley Snipes in the role. The film is not currently planned for the upcoming Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although other announced films like Black Panther II and Captain Marvel II have not been announced for any specific phase either.
Currently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has eight films and eight Disney+ series set for release between now and 2022, none of which are Blade, or involve Wesley Snipes in any way. Coming off two Oscar wins over the last decade, Mahershala Ali is an in-demand actor who likely has a busy schedule. As of right now, Ali is signed on to voice a character in the upcoming animated Amazon original series, Invincible, and the Apple TV+ film Swan Song, which is scheduled for a 2021 release, and will reunite Ali with Moonlight actress Naomie Harris.
But with characters like JK Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson appearing in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Jamie Foxx’s Electro cast in the upcoming Spider-Man sequel, it seems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now more open to celebrating Marvel’s past outside of their own studio. As one of their first successful film superheroes, it would be great to see Wesley Snipes return to the Blade franchise in any capacity.