Marvel is enjoying continued success with the critically acclaimed release of Black Panther on the big screen. This was a milestone for cinema the world over and was hailed as the ‘first’ successful black superhero movie. It raked in over a billion dollars (thus far) and with disasters like Shaquille O’Neal’s Steel, Will Smith’s Hancock and The Fantastic Four’s Human Torch looming in the shadows, it’s about time we got a good ‘black superhero’.
Marvel had done it again. Marvel took a gamble, did things right and the result was Black Panther.
The thing is though, people seem to forget – they’ve actually done it before.
Way back in 1998, Marvel’s very first cinematic success was, in fact, a ‘black superhero’ movie. – Blade.
Created in 1973 by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan, 1998 was the year that Blade saw the light of day on the big screen. With Wesley Snipes as the titular character, the film went on to spawn two less than awesome sequels and a television series. The original film, simply titled ‘Blade’ made over $130 million dollars at the box office by the end of its run and quickly became a staple of culture leading into the 2000s with a gigantic cult following as a result. After that though, Blade died a slow and silent death and faded into memory as Marvel shifted focus to fancier heroes like Iron Man, The Hulk, and Captain America with grander plans on the horizon for The Avengers and an entire cinematic universe. A cinematic universe that would conveniently forget about Blade the further it went on to expand.
In essence, you could even go as far as to say, Blade was the very reason Marvel became as popular as it did. Blade essentially paid for most of the early experimentation in cinema with the ‘Marvel superhero’ format (Ben Affleck Daredevil, anyone?).
I strongly believe that if it weren’t for the success of Blade, Marvel would have remained a comic book company with little to no success in Hollywood.
Blade should have been the flagship franchise hero far ahead of Iron Man, but, he got sidestepped and discarded.
So, why did we forget about Blade?
Why haven’t we heard from the character in mainstream media and why has Marvel chosen to completely stiff the Blade franchise?
Blade has ties to Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Ghostrider, Dr. Doom, Deadpool and even S.H.I.E.L.D. Blade also helps out the X-Men and takes on a secret identity as Ronin and joins The Avengers for a while. Blade is extremely involved in the Marvel Universe, if at best only at a supporting character level, yet, he’s nowhere to be seen or heard. He didn’t even receive a mention or a cameo in any of the entire wall full of Marvel superhero films.
*** Interesting fact about Ronin – Ronin actually appears in Avengers: Infinity War.***
So why then? Why does it seem like Blade doesn’t exist to Marvel?
I’ll tell you why – Because at this point, Blade literally shatters the entire universe Marvel built up to over the last 20 years. Including Blade right now in a Marvel film or even including him in the near future in any form would obliterate the world as we’ve come to know it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Blade would unravel every fine laid story and plan set up since the first Iron Man film. Blade would screw up everything from Captain America to Infinity War & Guardians of The Galaxy. The entire universe Marvel created, never included Blade, his story or his version of the world.
Quite simply put, Blade getting his own film or even just appearing in a Marvel film now would create a paradox Marvel won’t be able to explain away.
The vampire connection…
See the real problem with Blade is that he is a vampire/human hybrid. This means there would have to be vampires in The Marvel Cinematic Universe. These vampires, have not been seen or heard from during the entire modern run of Marvel films.
Surely, they would have been somewhere these last 20 years? Would Tony Stark not have met a few in the business world? Would someone not have seen one somewhere? Would The Punisher or Daredevil not have encountered a vampire on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen at some point? I mean, Peter Parker (in the comics, on Earth-15901) even became a fricken vampire. Vampires exist in the Marvel Universe.
There are lists of known vampires in the Marvel database who appear all over the Marvel comics but there’s no sight or word of them in the cinematic universe. In fact, the only hint that vampires might even exist is a few lines Korg and Thor exchange in Thor: Ragnarok.
“Wanna use a big wooden fork?” – “No.” – “Yeah, not really useful, unless you’re fighting off three Vampires that are huddled together.”
The story and background Blade paints is that vampires are a major driving force behind the world economy and basically farm humans as cattle. They have slaves and servants, vast corporations that span the globe and even advanced technology to amplify their already considerable abilities. Vampires are like gods in Blade’s world. They run everything. Blade hunts these same vampires by any means necessary wherever he can find them. Blade kills vampires, simple as that. For Blade to do so or even himself exist in the first place, vampires also have to exist.
Even if you go at it with the angle that Blade was originally human when he was first created, vampires still have to exist for there to even be a Blade, otherwise, what’s the point?
So where are all the vampires then? Are they all so good at hiding and disguise that nobody knows about them? Are they just creatures of myth and legend in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Is Blade perhaps just a story to the rest of The Marvel Cinematic Universe too?
Now, knowing this, are you starting to understand how Blade would break everything?
The other major problem is, despite what the films would have you believe, Blade’s arch nemesis is and always has been the legendary Dracula. It was Dracula that killed Blade’s original mentor and while Deacon Frost is a persistent and relevant villain in the story as seen in the original film, the villain is actually Dracula.
Dracula is a major plot point throughout Blade’s life and that, in turn, means Marvel has to incorporate that into their current cinematic universe. This fact, following the disasters that were Blade II and Blade III (which actually did feature Dracula), means Marvel had to do one of two things – use it or lose it. They chose to lose it. You know, kind of like they forgot all about those crappy Hulk movies they kept rebooting and hoping nobody would notice?
Marvel would have to not only put forth vampires and work them into the current cinematic mythos, but they’d have to put out a mind-blowing design for Dracula and then pretend this has all been going on somewhere in the background all this time. I mean, yes, they can do that. We’ve seen it before with other Marvel films. Even in Black Panther, Wakanda kind of came out of nowhere and has sort of just ‘been there all along’ somewhere in Africa.
Will Blade follow a similar route? I doubt it.
The world is not ready…
I believe, in addition to all the obvious issues with the Blade franchise, that the world isn’t ready for Blade.
Even if Marvel overcomes the challenges of incorporating vampires, finds a Dracula and all we hope for comes true. The fact remains, Blade is not just a ‘black superhero’.
Blade is a vampire hunter who hunts vampires and the world is not ready for yet another vampire movie. Try to bring back Blade now and he’ll just fall into the pile of nameless vampire movies. The market is saturated with all sorts of vampire-related films and stories. We’re up to our asses in vampires and have been for the last 20 years. Non-stop. Clockwork, every few months. Tons and tons of vampire movies and even series. I could name the examples, but you know everything I could mention already, don’t you?
The world might be ready for another ‘black superhero’ to take to the screen but that superhero is not Blade. Spawn maybe, but not Blade. I believe it will be a long time before Marvel bothers looking at Blade again, not only due to the complications they might face in implementing him into the Cinematic Universe, but the fact that the last truly successful vampire movie was Twilight – and that’s saying something.