Before Twilight became all the rage, vampires in movies were seen as terrifying forces of darkness, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Marvel Comics’ Blade. Now, actor Mahershala Ali is gearing up to put his own spin on Marvel’s vampire anti-hero. In an interview for The Tightrope, Ali teased that his Blade will be darker in tone than most other MCU superheroes, which is what drew him to the role in the first place.
“I love that [Blade is] darker. That’s all in terms of tone. He’s a little bit darker than some of the other ones and so that element was attractive to me.”
In Marvel Comics, Blade started out as an ordinary mortal battling vampires after the circumstances of his birth made him immune to vampire bites and hypnotism. Later, while fighting Morbius, the Living Vampire, Blade was bitten, and as a result became a dhampir, a cross between a vampire and a human, which earned him the nickname “Daywalker”.
The Blade movies starring Wesley Snipes in the 90s kept certain parts of the character’s story from the comics while discarding others. The movies were a huge success. Years later, Mahershala Ali found himself working on another Marvel project featuring a Black superhero in Luke Cage. It was then that he remembered the Blade movies, and set out to see if he could be a part of their reboot.
“I did this Marvel show for Netflix called Luke Cage. So in doing that show, the day it premiered, I had turned to my agent, and I had said, ‘What are they doing with Blade?’ Because I kept hearing they were trying to find a way to remake and put it back together. And it was exciting for me to get to be in that Marvel space and TV, but for me, my goal had always been film. But also being able to participate in television in a very specific way that had real meaning, but my larger goal was to be able to really navigate between film and television.”
Ali garnered acclaim for his villainous turn as Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes in Luke Cage, and that got his foot in the door at Marvel Studios. Finally, the actor was able to put his desire to play a new version of the Daywalker before Kevin Feige, as a way to honor Snipes’ legacy with the character.
“[My desire to play Blade was] married with being so inspired by Wesley Snipes’ work and what he had done. And how much had changed since his iteration of Blade, and how that had really sort of ushered in this era of Marvel and DC, sort of like comic book stuff. Since they were having conversations about bringing it back into being, I just wanted to be considered for it because I had definitely a connection, at least in my mind, to Wesley Snipes going back to high school. People use to joke and say that we looked alike and all this stuff. I just brought it up as someone who really wanted to take on that [Blade] role and tackle that.”
The topper art of Mahershala Ali as The MCU’s Blade comes from BossLogic.