The Blade on-screen franchise still lives, even though Marvel hasn’t done anything new with it yet despite the fact that fans have been vocal over the years, encouraging the studio to consider either bringing Wesley Snips back for another go at it, in maybe a 4th film, or a complete reboot of the character (which I think is more likely) – either as a TV series on a cable TV channel (or an SVOD platform like Netflix or Amazon), or on the big screen with a new, younger actor to play the part, and carry the character into a new era of Blade movies and/or TV shows.
Snipes certainly hasn’t been shy about his desire to revisit the franchise. For a while there (after he became a free man again in mid-2013), it seemed like every other month there was talk of another Blade movie, especially as superhero-movie-fever seemed to take over Hollywood, and studios producing superhero movies and TV shows were criticized for not diversifying their output.
Snipes himself was routinely asked about the possibility during press junkets, for example, while doing press for his then upcoming NBC series “The Player” (it was canceled last TV season), speaking with HuffPost Live, he shared that he was definitely interested in a “Blade 4,” but whether or not it happens is obviously not his decision to make. “There’s always a possibility, you know. It’s in Marvel’s hands. They’re controlling the pace and the flow with that. Conversations have been good. They see the value in it. We see the value in it,” Snipes said. “I’m still in shape enough and fit enough to handle the role. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t really know what’s going to happen to it yet.”
And when he was asked about the chance that Blade would join the Avengers in a film, Snipes said: “That would be interesting. I mean, I know it’s in the comic book. It would be interesting to see where they would place him and where he really would fit in. He’s got to bite somebody. I don’t know who he’s going to bite.”
But a 4th “Blade” movie would certainly be welcomed, especially after the disaster that was the 3rd film, which left a bad taste in many mouths – including Snipes’ who, you might recall, revisited his many frustrations with that production in a 2014 profile of the actor in the UK’s Telegraph, published during the week “The Expendables 3” (which he co-starred in) was set to open. Snipes talked to the media about his involvement in that film, but also his legacy as an actor, especially leaning on what arguably helped launch the current superhero franchise craze – his starring role in the mostly successful “Blade” trilogy, based on the Marvel comic.
Snipes again said at the time that a 4th “Blade” movie was “very much a possibility,” adding that he’d love to work with Guillermo del Toro (director of the second film in the franchise, and the most financially successful). He also reflected on playing the character in 3 movies, and how the franchise helped inspire the current hits that Marvel Studios is enjoying, stating: “There were empires and institutions that were built off the Blade franchise… I mean, look at Marvel now, to this day. It’s a megalith!”
He then speculated on how different his career might have been today, had he understood the “Blade” franchise’s potential, as well as the renewed enthusiasm and popularity for comic book superhero movies today: “You know, if I would have understood the potential of… doing, or adapting comic book characters to feature films, and also the tie-in to gaming and digital technology, when I was doing the first Blade films, then I’d be in a different business right now. I’d be in a whole different ball game,” he said, adding, “I still would have done, the, er, you know… er, the dramatic work, and probably had a kind of cushion to do experimental work, because the economics in that kind of business are huge.”
Further he said, “More and more people are recognizing the contribution that Blade made to this resurgence, or this model, this new business. At the time when Blade was offered to me, my management and my agents all thought I was out of my mind for doing it. They told me, ‘You know, you’re a classically trained actor. Why would you want to even play a vampire from a comic book?’ I was, ‘Everything you’re saying is right, but here’s the thing – I’ve never seen a movie like this.’”
And so it went…
The fact that Snipes would later sue New Line Cinema, writer/director David Goyer and Toby Emmerich, executive producer of “Blade: Trinity,” in a wide-ranging lawsuit seeking more than $5 million in damages, was certainly a nod to his disgust with the 3rd film in the franchise (“Blade: Trinity”), and his involvement in it.
You might recall that, in the suit, Snipes claimed:
– A violation of his contract;
– That the director (Goyer), the screenplay and the supporting cast were essentially forced on him, and he had no say in any of those choices; especially with the script, which he didn’t care for, objecting to what he called the “juvenile level of humor” in it, as well as the fact that his character, the lead character, whose name is on the marquee, was marginalized, with focus being shifted from Blade to the 2 sidekicks (played by Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds) – the plan, Snipes claimed, being to set the stage for spinoffs featuring other cast members.
– Racial discrimination/prejudice against Goyer and the whole production. Specifically, that in contrast to the first two Blade films, in which efforts were made to select a multiracial cast and crew, Goyer and Emmerich “intentionally hired only white people,” which Snipes claimed led to him feeling isolated and excluded. He also claimed that Goyer made racially motivated statements about Snipes being unprofessional and difficult to work with, and that Goyer refused to discipline a crew member who wore a racially discriminatory T-shirt on the set.
There was more to the suit, but you get the picture; basically, he felt disrespected and railroaded, and that the movie sucked as a result!
There was a New York Daily News piece in 2014 that said Snipes would indeed be returning for a 4th “Blade” movie, with their sources telling them that the actor’s comeback, after being released from prison in April 2013, was “looking good” and that he’d make $3 million from the film, plus a cut of the back-end profits. That report was never confirmed by anyone, certainly not Marvel nor Snipes himself.
In 2015, Snipes shared that he’d met with Marvel about potentially returning to the role, although nothing was/is in development: “The project is controlled by Marvel and we did have a really productive and a wonderful meeting and we discussed a number of things… I don’t know where it’s on their schedule at this point, that hasn’t been decided. I guess it’s still up in the air.”
Snipes also seemed to suggest that he’s certainly open to playing another Marvel character, if it’s not Blade: “I’ve always been a fan of these pieces and adaptations and it’d be nice to be a part of the family again… But if we don’t to a ‘Blade 4’ or something else with Marvel, we’ll do something else.”
I should note that, also in 2015, Marvel Comics unveiled a new Blade comic book series focused on the daughter of the original Blade – a sixteen-year-old girl named Fallon Grey.
Titled “Blade #1,” the new comic book series debuted last fall. As I said back then, with the timing of that announcement coinciding with Snipes’ revelation at Comic-Con around the same period, that he’d spoken to Marvel about how they might bring back Blade, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Fallon Grey figures into the “how” in some way. There’s also the thriving Netflix/Marvel relationship, which could prove to be a suitable testing ground for, let’s say, a Fallon Grey animated or live-action series, entirely her own.
Finally, skip ahead to today, to an interview with the JoBlo entertainment blog, in which Marvel chief Kevin Feige was asked to comment on fan expectations to see Blade in any upcoming Marvel universe projects, whether in his own film/TV series, or as part of a superhero ensemble movie, or both.
“We think it would be cool… Someday,” Feige said, adding in more detail, “My tenure at Marvel started 17 years ago, and there were two things that sort of launched the modern era. One was ‘X-Men,’ which was the first thing that people said, ‘Oh, there’s life here.’ But a few years before that, there was ‘Blade.’ A character nobody had heard of at all, had only appeared in a few issues of ‘Tomb of Dracula’ or something, turned into a big franchise. That was always a great lesson for me, where you go, ‘It doesn’t matter how well known the character is, it matters how cool the movie is.’ Which, many years later, would be the reason we do ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Doctor Strange.’ I think Blade is a legacy character now, and I think it would be fun to do something with him one day.”
It’s good to see that he recognizes the significance of Blade as an early character in the pantheon of superhero movies, echoing what Snipes says above about his Blade movies being a kind of firestarter that doesn’t really get the deserved props. And it’s also good to know that Feige is interested in bringing back the character, even if his timeline is “one day,” which could mean an announcement made as soon as next year, the year after, or 5 years from now, or…. take your pick. At least, they’re considering it. And when it does happen (I believe it will), I think they’ll reboot the character and cast a fresh face, unfortunately for Snipes.
But hopefully the next post on Blade will be an official announcement of some new Marvel project on the character. A reboot/revisit of the film franchise seems like a no-brainer to me. It’s a proven property with cross-over and international appeal; the fans want it; and we’re currently in an environment in which it would likely see enormous success… if done well of course. The upcoming Black Panther movie (the first *tentpole* black superhero movie from marvel) may give the studio the push it needs, if it’s a massive success at the box office, which I anticipate it will.
In the meantime, all 3 Blade movies are available on various home video platforms, as are the live-action and animated TV series.
Collectively, the trilogy grossed $324.9 million domestically (adjusted for inflation, which averages at over $100 million each); and over $550 million worldwide (also adjusted for inflation). Not bad at all, considering that all 3 films were rated R.