When you think the “Comic Book Movie” era in which we all enjoy, there are very few people who have become so connected to his or her character in CBMs that to see them do anything else anywhere else is sacrilege.
Imagine Robert Downey, Jr. in DC as the other billionaire playboy we know in comics (even though he is working on a DC-related project for Hulu). What if Gal Gadot scurried over to Marvel to become Quasar and starting kicking it with the Guardians franchise? How about Chris Evans in another Marvel proj..Oh, sorry. That’s right, we just don’t talk about that one…
(And yes, Ryan Reynolds, we’ll leave your DC project unnamed from this piece too.)
You get the point. Albeit just a few, there are people who are forever stuck with the CBM franchise in which they became famous. Despite Marvel’s reign now or DC’s upward trek with the Nolanverse, the forever-typecasting may have begun with Christopher Reeve as ‘Superman’ but the same thing happened for Marvel as Wesley Snipes became ‘Blade.’
No Replacement. Only Reinvigorated.
There is no secret how we feel about Snipes’ portrayal as the Daywalker. I mean, when you entitle a blog entry: “How Blade Sliced Open the Door for R-Rated CBMs and Heroes of Color,” it becomes easy to infer.
Also, that’s why Kevin Feige is making Blade happen in Phase 5. He is no dimwit and when the Marvel acolytes begin clamoring loudly for something, investigation happens, interest is piqued, and improvements begin almost immediately.
(Imagine if Walter Hamada or Toby Emmerich at DC and WB respectively hearkened to the stans of DC like that? Shoot, that whole “Snyder Cut” thing would be yesterday’s news…sorry, did that hurt a little?)
Maybe Marvel muckety-mucks were thinking Snipes is a little long in the tooth (he is 56). Perhaps they questioned his relevance to mainstream fans who don’t really purchase a movie ticket simply because it reads ‘MARVEL’ (Snipes’ last real movie appearance was as ‘Cyclops’ in Spike Lee’s 2015 movie Chi-Raq, although you may remember him as ‘Doc’ in 2014’s The Expendables 3).
Whatever the thought process, it was clear they wanted to get a heavy hitter. Someone whose persona is both powerful and a little familiar, so they did what anyone would hope — if we can’t have Wesley Snipes back, go get Mahershala Ali!
Coming Full Circle
Mahershala Ali (born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore), 45, is absolutely no stranger to both mainstream cinema fans and hardcore nerds alike.
Aside from his hypnotizing roles in Moonlight, House of Cards, and HBO’s True Detective, geeks fully know him in both of his Marvel roles: ‘Uncle Aaron’ in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and the gone-too-soon-but-never-forgotten criminal underlord in Netflix’s Luke Cage as ‘Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes’. And now, he gets a third, most likely, his most memorable.
Ali as ‘Blade’, with the fortifying of Marvel Studios, will cement him among nerd lore as one of those roles discussed previously. He’s not a true martial artist, so to become the Daywalker, there will have to be some serious fight choreography and internal mapping, which may be where Snipes comes in for this remake.
As ‘Blade’, Ali will get all the things he was supposed to have in Luke Cage. In the original Luke Cage: Power Man #18 (June 1974), ‘Cottonmouth’ had sheer strength and unbreakable skin, much like Cage. Only his teeth were incisors that could pierce the skin of Luke Cage. You see, how it’s all coming together?
Super strength. Indestructible skin. And teeth that can pierce anything. Yeah, getting close to a vampire there (or, to be accurate, a “dhampir”, which is what Eric Brooks became in the womb as Deacon Frost fed on his pregnant mother’s neck for lunch).
He needs the skill of a Daywalker to truly evolve into the next version of ‘Blade,’ and who better than Wesley Snipes to show him how to do that. This is why Snipes will never be replaced. He etched a part in our collective medulla as to what Eric Brooks should be and how Blade should become.
Ali will learn from that and evolve into the same manner of brute, calculating force needed for this role, but he will require Snipes’ help to get there. Ali knows it. Feige believes it. And we all pray for it.
Where Does Wesley Fit?
As pointed out, Feige respects the fans. He knows we are not just a slew of cosplaying dolts hanging out in comic stores waiting to be next in Magic. But this is different. As Feige pointed out at San Diego Comic-Con, “When Mahershala calls, you answer.”
Why did he call? To pitch himself as Eric Brooks!
If that guy wants that role, you know he is award of the upward climb he has in store. And for him to look at the daunting Mount Wesley standing there and not be scared? You have to respect that. Wesley Snipes himself sure did, as he shared in an exclusive story with ComicBook.com.
“To all the DAYWALKERS losing their minds right now, chillaaxx. Although the news comes as a surprise, it’s ALL GOOD. Such is the ‘business’ of ‘entertainment!’ Much peace to the MCU crew – always a fan,” Snipes says.
“Honor and respect to the grandmaster Stan. Congratulations and Salaam to Mahershala Ali, a beautiful and talented artist whose expressions I look forward to experiencing for many years to come. Inshallah, we will someday work together.
Most importantly to my loyal fans, the incredible outpouring of love is overwhelming. I am grateful for the never-ending support. So, ‘nah fret nah worry, it’s not de’ end of de’ [sic] story.’ Welcome to the Daywalker Klique.”
So, about that “someday”? Maybe that will be in 2022 when Blade gets here. Many have immediately clamored that Snipes should take on the role of ‘Whistler’. While that seems amazing, any cameo would be welcomed as long as he gets on-screen. Behind the camera, he will definitely be the fight choreographer equipped to help Ali take those final steps to become ‘Blade.’
Both he and Feige–although not obligated–need Snipes to become ‘Blade.’ This is no replacement. It’s a reboot, but even Ali known he has titanic-sized boots to fill. See?