Twenty years ago, Batman and Robin seemed like the death knell for comic book movies. Hollywood concluded that audiences were tired of superheroes, and began to move on. For #Marvel, which for years had tried to generate interest in its characters, the future looked bleak. And then came Blade.
Even though Blade wasn't as famous as Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four, the success of Wesley Snipes's trilogy proved that superhero movies had a future. Now, Marvel visionary #KevinFeige has chimed in on the character's past and future.
Kevin Feige fondly remembers the Blade franchise.
Speaking to JoBlo, Feige observed:
"My tenure at Marvel started 17 years ago, and there were two things that sort of launched the modern era. One was X-Men, which was the first thing that people said, 'Oh, there's life here.' But a few years before that, there was Blade."
As strange as it may seem to modern Marvel fans, back in the 1990s, Hollywood viewed Marvel with disdain. A kid who gets bitten by a radioactive spider? A super soldier from World War II who throws his shield like a Frisbee? Really?
Blade changed that. It was an R-rated vampire film that rejoiced in its blood and gore. And it earned $131 million against a budget of just $45 million. The film became a cult classic, and #WesleySnipes is still remembered for the role today.
As Feige noted:
"A character nobody had heard of at all, had only appeared in a few issues of Tomb of Dracula or something, turned into a big franchise. That was always a great lesson for me, where you go, 'It doesn't matter how well known the character is, it matters how cool the movie is.' Which, many years later, would be the reason we do Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange."
The entire #MCU is built on the lesson that Feige learned from Blade. In financial difficulty back in the late '90s, Marvel had sold the film rights to its greatest characters to other studios. When Marvel's executives decided to start making films themselves, they were essentially stuck with the leftovers; the characters nobody had been interested in buying the rights to, and the characters whose rights had reverted because studios decided they weren't interested in them.
As hard as it is to imagine, Iron Man was hardly an A-list superhero before Robert Downey Jr.'s massive comeback role in 2008. When Marvel announced Guardians of the Galaxy, everyone thought that the studio had finally jumped the shark — the movie starred a talking raccoon and a walking tree, after all! Instead of crashing, though, the film grossed a whopping $773 million in the global box office. This year's sequel grossed over $850 million, making Vol. 2 the most successful Marvel movie not to feature Robert Downey Jr.
According to Kevin Feige, the film that taught him to take risks with these properties? Blade.
Don't expect to see him return soon, even though it'll happen eventually.
Fans are eager for the Daywalker to return, but sadly it seems that Feige has no immediate plans. As he explained:
"We think it would be cool. Someday... I think Blade is a legacy character now, and I think it would be fun to do something with him one day."
It's an answer that's sure to leave fans frustrated. Many have suggested that the character would be ideally suited to the tone and style you see in Marvel Television's Netflix shows, but this suggests Feige is in no hurry. Last year, we learned that Marvel turned down a pitch for an Underworld/Blade crossover, leading Kate Beckinsale to suggest that the House of Ideas was "doing something with Blade." Naturally, Feige was asked, and responded:
"They did ask a long time ago and I think our answer was, ‘No, we’ll do something with ‘Blade’ at some point.’"
It seems that answer hasn't really changed. Feige fully intends to "do something" with the franchise, but he has no solid plans. All he has is the vague sense that this is a property he wants to keep his hands on, because he thinks that one day it could be great again.
These comments will be bittersweet for Blade fans. It's disappointing to see a franchise with such potential effectively sit on a shelf gathering dust. That said, it's wonderful to see that Marvel's greatest visionary fully understands how important this cult classic truly was. As Feige explained, this was the film that put Marvel on the map. And the lessons of Blade are ones that continue to shape the MCU to this day.
(Sources: JoBlo; Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe)