Why isn’t Wesley Snipes for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Blade? After revealing the MCU’s Phase 4 slate in SDCC’s Hall H, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige decided to make one last announcement to really send the crowds home happy – Mahershala Ali being cast as Blade. The two-time Academy Award winner was met with widespread cheers and applause; fans were happy to see the vampire hunter coming back on the big screen with such a trusted performer.
However, the news is a little bittersweet as there was some hope that Marvel Studios might re-hire Wesley Snipes to take on the character. Snipes played the day-walking vampire in a trilogy of R-rated Blade films from 1998 to 2004. The success of the first movie helped Marvel establish themselves in Hollywood, leading to blockbuster adaptations X-Men and Spider-Man. Wesley was a big action hero at the time, and his casting was a huge factor in the films being the draw that they were.
Fans were behind the idea of Snipes reprising his role as Blade, fueled by a mix of nostalgia and Snipes’ own mentions of availability if Marvel was open to it. Bringing the actor back wasn’t the worst idea either; the first two Blade movies have stood the test of time and it’d be a cool way for Marvel to acknowledge their legacy. But it’s been too long. The last major release Snipes was in was 2014’s The Expendables 3, an ensemble picture. A decade before that, Blade: Trinity was his last headlining feature. Furthermore, there were reports of Snipes’ bad behavior on-set. While it would’ve been nostalgic to see Snipes back in the role, it’s difficult for Marvel to deny someone like Ali who’s coming off his second Oscar win.
Marvel has been skewing towards leading actors that are already in the limelight, getting Jake Gyllenhaal for Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home and Angelina Jolie as Sersi for The Eternals. Ali is somebody whose presence elevates Blade, adding prestige to the project and perking the ears of those who might otherwise disregard it as just another installment of the MCU.
That’s not to say Snipes can’t, or shouldn’t, be involved. J.K. Simmons has been reinstated as J. Jonah Jameson for the MCU’s Spider-Man films as of Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Michael Keaton returned to superhero films for the first time since 1992’s Batman Returns to play the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The difference is these are decidedly smaller roles with much looser schedules. We haven’t seen Vulture since Homecoming and it’ll be at least 2022 before we get the third MCU Spider-Man movie.
Marvel Studios should recognize Wesley’s contributions to where they are. They’re clearly open to the idea of playing with the history of comic book movies, and there are plenty of roles within the Blade canon Wesley could take. He could portray Dracula, Blade’s most iconic villain, which would play into the same kind of darkly resentful energy Keaton brought to the Vulture while also not needing a huge commitment from the actor. There are ways and means for the former Blade star to still be involved, but it only makes sense for someone else to take on the mantle.
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