Why the Delay? The Anticipation Builds for Blade’s MCU Debut

Fans were excited to see Mahershala Ali take on the role of Blade, though a lot of time has passed and things have changed since that initial reveal.

Deep in the shadows of the MCU is a vampire-slaying daywalker known as Blade. Wesley Snipes originally immortalized this enigmatic character in the ’90s, captivating audiences with his red-eyed intensity. Now, as the MCU expands, the time has come for Blade to return and stake his claim again, but why is it taking so long for him to arrive?

Like the vampires he hunts, Blade’s return to the silver screen has been shrouded in mystery. Marvel has primarily chosen to keep fans in the dark about the upcoming reboot, and what little fans have found out so far hasn’t been great, as it sounds like production issues have plagued the movie’s journey from the start. Initially set to strike theaters in 2023, the release date has become a moving target that’s been pushed back repeatedly. From the initial date of November 3, 2023, the film shifted to September 6, 2024, only to face further postponements. The latest update places the eagerly awaited film’s release on November 7, 2025. As uncertainties mount, doubts have begun to linger, prompting some to question whether Blade will ever see the light of day.

Tumultuous Creative Decisions

From the moment Blade’s return was announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, fans were ecstatic, and the anticipation for the film rivaled that of the upcoming reinventions of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

Kevin Feige, the executive mastermind behind the MCU, shared a fascinating story about the inception of Blade’s comeback. After Mahershala Ali secured his second Oscar win for his role as Don Shirley in Green Book, he reached out to Feige to express his desire to pick up the vampire hunter’s sword. In response to this idea, Feige told the Hollywood Reporter, “When Mahershala calls, you answer.”

Soon after, Ali’s surprising voice-over appearance in the post-credits scene of Eternals solidified Blade’s presence in the MCU earlier than anyone had expected. It set the stage for his 2023 arrival, but things didn’t work out that way. Instead, Blade underwent a series of revisions.

Writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour, known for her work on Watchmen, initially penned the script for director Bassam Tariq. Moon Knight writer Beau DeMayo then replaced Stacy. DeMayo’s tenure was short-lived, making way for Michael Starrbury of When They See Us fame.

Marvel’s attempts at finding the proper script continued with hiring True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto. This intricate dance of writers seemed eerily reminiscent of the MCU’s multiverse, with each iteration of the story bringing forth a distinctly different vision. This storm of creative decisions reached a crescendo when a report from Variety emerged that painted a grim picture indeed.

As it turns out, Blade was grappling with many internal struggles, resulting in these wildly different scripts. In one version, the narrative drifted entirely away from the title character and star, Mahershala Ali. Within this version of the story, Blade allegedly found himself relegated to the fourth lead in a plot “led by women and filled with life lessons.”

Amidst these difficulties, the MCU enlisted the expertise of Logan screenwriter Michael Green to steer the ship home in pursuit of a cinematic vision worthy of the vampire hunter’s storied legacy.

Losing Its Director And Budget Concerns

Blade’s return to the big screen has been anything but smooth, marked by twists, turns, and the shocking departure of its original director, Bassam Tariq. Marvel addressed Tariq’s exit, emphasizing that it was not due to artistic differences but rather a response to ongoing shifts in the production schedule. The official statement, released on September 27, 2022, stated, “Due to continued shifts in our production schedule, Bassam is no longer moving forward as director of Blade but will remain an executive producer on the film. We appreciate Bassam’s talent and all the work he’s done getting Blade to where it is.”

Tariq himself expressed gratitude for the opportunity, calling it an “honor” to work with Marvel and expressing his eagerness to see where the next director will take the film. Losing the Mogul Mowgli filmmaker led to a pause in Blade’s production and a search for someone new. Eventually, they landed on Yann Demange, the director behind White Boy Rick.

Marvel’s choice of Demange as the replacement director occurred in November, and this decision also coincided with a strategic shift in the film’s budget. With plans to produce the movie for a modest $100 Million, Blade departs from the quarter-billion-dollar budgets that have become synonymous with MCU blockbusters. It’s reportedly a deliberate attempt to embrace a more indie-like film approach within the Marvel universe.

Blade’s budget sets a new precedent within the MCU. Since establishing the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man in 2008, it is the first film to be budgeted at less than $130 Million. This move contrasts with the budgets of previous MCU films, including Ant-Man and its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, both of which were produced for $130 Million. This shift in approach reflects Marvel’s willingness to explore new creative and financial territories, making Blade a high-stakes cinematic experiment.

What Might Be Going Right For Blade

Despite the tumultuous journey and creative challenges that Blade has faced, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon, suggesting that the film may yet find success. Tentatively scheduled for a Fall 2025 release, Blade is sandwiched between Thunderbolts and The Fantastic Four. This placement in the release calendar should allow Blade to carve out a niche alongside those other highly anticipated movies.

The cast, led by the exceptional Mahershala Ali, promises to be stellar. Delroy Lindo and Aaron Pierre have also been announced as bringing their talents to unspecified roles. At the same time, indie film sensation Mia Goth makes her MCU debut in a role that has yet to be revealed.

Considering the supernatural setting, the possibility of implementing heroes like Jack Russell, Elsa Bloodstone, and Man-Thing remains high, offering exciting prospects for cameos and expanding the occult dimensions of the MCU. Moreover, director Yann Demange’s confirmation of an R-rating for Blade signals a commitment to delivering a decidedly mature and intense movie-going experience.

With a release date set at the end of 2025, Marvel is affording the new creative team that’s been put in place the time it needs to craft a compelling addition to the MCU. While the extended delays raise questions about the film’s potential success, it also underscores the studio’s dedication to getting things right.

Despite many challenges, Blade stands poised to reclaim its place as a groundbreaking installment in the MCU, offering audiences what will hopefully be a dark and thrilling experience that transcends traditional superhero narratives. Ultimately, however, only time will tell.

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