Patrick A. Howell

MCU Cuts Back to Its Origins With a Blade Reboot

Kevin Feige’s brilliant casting of Mahershala Ali in a new Blade feature film would be genius with Wesley Snipes as Whistler.

 

Marvel is going back to its roots. Actually, it’s going back to its seed.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and “I am … Iron Man” (Iron Man, 2008) was the root. With the conclusion of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Avengers: Endgame (technically it was Spider-Man: Far from Home), San Diego’s Comic-Con had its most brilliant moment when MCU Watcher, producer extraordinaire, and architect Kevin Feige announced that Mahershala Ali (a.k.a. Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) would be entering the universe as the new Blade.

Blade was the MCU’s seed. Prior to Blade over 20 years ago, comic book movies consisted of occasional attempts like the odd Spawn or box office flop Steel with Shaquille O’Neal. Comic book movies were not the all-time box office champions (Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War) or Oscar hopefuls (Black Panther or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). 21 years ago (1998), Blade (co-produced by Wesley Snipes) was the first comic book movie adaptation to usher in the modern comic book movie age, showing what a movie grounded in reality, with a well-written balanced script that took itself seriously, could do in cinema.

 

Blade was the first comic book movie adaptation to usher in the modern comic book movie age, showing what a movie grounded in reality, with a well-written balanced script that took itself seriously, could do in cinema.

 

Wesley Snipes harbored ambitions as the original Black Panther on what was originally a Reginald Hudlin property. Unable to get Black Panther, Wesley Snipes opted for Blade instead. Blade was the template in so many ways. Its cinematography and gritty blacks and grays were in some ways a precursor for the Christopher Nolan Batmans of the 21st Century. The powerful performances by Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Dorff, and Wesley Snipes could be seen as a template for Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman in the Batman film series. Insofar as it was an obscure comic book (Blade made his first appearance in Tomb of Dracula #10 in 1973) that went onto cult status success, it was also a precursor of sorts for the unforeseen success of James Gunn’s novel selection of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Tim Burton’s Batman with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson was the original sublime entry into The Dark Knight’s saga, and Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger was really a precursor to Ryan Coogler’s Oscar bait Black Panther. However, selection of Mahershala Ali is brilliant – no doubt with his method preparation for the Best Picture Oscar-winning films Green Book and Moonlight, and with such roles as “Cottonmouth” Stokes in Marvel’s Luke Cage or Alita Battle Angel’s Vector, that same dedication, devotion, and discipline will be applied toward fighting and weapon mastery. The charisma, leading man je ne sais quoi is already there for the Bay Area rapper and two-time Academy Award winner (Best Supporting Actor for Green Book and Moonlight).

The addition of Wesley Snipes as Whistler to the casting lineup would be a coup d’etat and prominent reminder that MCU’s Kevin Feige is the new Steven Spielberg on the block, reinventing, creating, and crafting the new new; capable of dividing, refining, and serving the success that has become his hallmark.

Or, as Wesley Snipes explained as Blade, in the original: “You better wake up. The world you live in is just a sugarcoated topping. There is another world beneath it. The real world. And if you want to survive it, you better learn to pull the trigger.”

 

 

(Special thank you to Estrella Cristina for the article idea. Additional editing by Tori Reid.)

 

Patrick A. Howell

Patrick A. Howell is an award-winning banker, business leader, entrepreneur, and writer. His first work was published with the UC Berkeley African American Literary Review and Quarterly Black Book Review. At Cal Berkeley, he co-founded Diatribe - a People of Color News Collective. Mr. Howell, is a frequent contributing writer to the Huffington Post, Tishman Review's Craft Talk series, Into the Void, and is a Good Men Project Blue Box Columnist. He has interviewed Nnedi Okorafor, Ishamel Reed, and Nikki Giovanni. He has been cited in national platforms as equities.com, NBC BLK, Opportunist Magazine, and The Grio. Howell’s integrated book of poetry-design, “Yes, We Be" was published by Jacar Press in February of 2018 and debuted at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. This summer he graduated the Leopardi Writer's Conference in Recanati Italy to complete work on Quarter 'til Judgement Day, a coming-of-age experimental fiction work.

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