Kevin Feige knows how to give a spectacular presentation. But one of his most memorable moments was at the end of the 2019 MCU panel at Comic-Con, when Feige interrupted what appeared to be a closing celebration to bring out Mahershala Ali. The Academy-Award-winning actor simply put a hat on his head as the lights dimmed and a one-word logo appeared on-screen: Blade.
Since that moment, anticipation has only grown, from original Blade actor Wesley Snipes offering his support for the project, to the exciting additions of Delroy Lindo and Aaron Pierre to the cast. Not even a baffling post-credit sequence to Eternals, in which Blade’s voice can be heard warning Dane Whitman against removing the Ebony Blade, could diminish the excitement.
However, some recent news might raise eyebrows, as director Bassam Tariq has stepped away from the project just weeks before filming was to begin. According to the Variety article reporting the move, no explanation for the change has been revealed. “It’s been an honor working with the wonderful folks at Marvel,” Tariq said in a statement. ” We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film.”
Currently, Blade is scheduled to hit theaters on November 3, 2023, as part of the MCU’s fifth phase. No word has been given about a change in release date, and it may never come. Marvel chief Kevin Feige has dealt with director changes before, most famously when Edgar Wright stepped down from the first Ant-Man, but also when Alan Taylor stepped in for Patty Jenkins on Thor: The Dark World and Sam Raimi took over from Scott Derrickson on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The more concerning news comes from an unofficial source, as Hollywood insider Jeff Sneider tweeted that the current Blade script “features exactly TWO (lackluster) action sequences.” According to Sneider’s sources, star Ali is “very frustrated with the process,” which stems in part because Feige is “spread too thin.” If this is true, it speaks to problems in the process that go well beyond a change in director.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Daywalker has encountered production difficulties. Famously, Wesley Snipes took offense with David S. Goyer, writer of the first two films, becoming director of Blade: Trinity. Snipes’s refusal to participate with Goyer lead not only to oddities such as eyes CGI-ed over the actor’s closed lids, but also a lot of Ryan Reynolds riffing to fill in gaps. Given the reputation of Blade: Trinity compared to the work directors Stephen Norrington and Guillermo Del Toro brought to Blade and Blade II, it seems that Snipes has been proven correct.
Ali appears to be following in Snipes’s footsteps in being the driving force behind Blade. He used the cache gained from his Green Book Oscar win to petition Feige for the Blade role. If he’s frustrated with the process, it may carry greater weight than other creatives who have worked in the Marvel system before. And yet, it’s hard to believe that Feige won’t be able to salvage something from even a troubled production. After all, the man knows how to put on a show.