All the delays in Mahershala Ali’s reboot

Before “Iron Man” and “Thor,” before “Spider-Man” and “X-Men,” there was “Blade.” Starring Wesley Snipes as the titular half-vampire slayer, the film debuted in 1998 at a time when Marvel Comics had not yet enjoyed a successful feature film adaptation. The New Line Cinema production was such a hit — grossing $131.2 million worldwide — that Snipes returned for two sequels, creating the company’s first-ever live-action movie franchise. If “Blade” had bombed, the Marvel Cinematic Universe might never have happened.

So when Marvel Studios announced in 2019 that two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali would be bringing the character to the MCU, it seemed like a no-brainer.

However, five years later, “Blade” has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and two major strikes, faced three release date changes, lost two directors, and employed at least a half-dozen screenwriters in what could be the longest development process ever. . For Disney’s superhero division.

Unlike almost the rest of the industry, Marvel Studios is committed to producing every title it announces — sometimes long before it even hires the filmmaking team to make it, as was the case with “Blade.” Despite all the delays and setbacks, insiders say Marvel is still excited to get the film in front of cameras with Ali in the lead role.

Here’s a timeline of every major development on “Blade’s” winding road to theaters.

July 20, 2019: Marvel Studios announced a “Blade” reboot.

In the final moments of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s blockbuster post-“Avengers: Endgame” presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, Feige turned out the lights in Hall H for the final time to debut a title treatment for “Blade,” then was directed by Ali wearing Baseball cap with the same logo. Ali later subscriber He offered himself to Feige for the part after he kept hearing that Marvel was looking to reboot the “Blade” franchise. But at the time Feige announced Ali’s involvement, there was no director or screenwriter attached to the project.

February 5, 2021: Stacy Osei-Kuffour is set to write the screenplay

Osei-Kuffour wrote for HBO’s “Watchmen” and received an Emmy nomination for writing a first-season episode of Hulu’s “Pen15.”

Bassam Tariq Marvel Studios Blade

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

July 19, 2021: Bassam Tarek signs to direct

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Tariq’s most famous film is the 2020 film “Mogul Mowgli”, starring Riz Ahmed. He also directed a series of documentaries and short films, including “Birds Go,” “11/8/16,” “Red Mountain Chorus,” “Promise,” “Mogambo,” and “Ghosts of Sugar Land.”

November 5, 2021: Ali makes his first performance as Blade in Marvel’s “Eternals” — but it’s just his voice.

In the ending scene of Chloé Zhao’s film, Kit Harington’s character, Dane Whitman, opens an ancient chest containing the Ebony Blade, a cursed sword that has haunted the Dane family for generations. As Dane was about to pick up the blade, Ali’s voice was heard off camera: “Are you sure you’re ready for this, Mr. Whitman?”

Harrington said diverse That although he knew what Dane was being said at that moment, he knew that Ali was saying it as Blade only about three weeks before the film’s premiere. “Chloe texted me saying that’s what they were doing,” Harrington said. “It really made me happy to hear that. He’s one of my favorite actors at the moment.” He added that he had “no idea” if the scene meant that Dane would appear in the “Blade” movie.

“I suppose that would be the case, but who knows?”

November 19, 2021: Delroy Lindo joins the cast

The veteran actor (“Da 5 Bloods,” “The Harder They Fall,” “The Good Fight”) has signed on to play an undisclosed role.

February 22, 2022: Aaron Bier joins the cast

Pierre, who gave a breakout performance in Barry Jenkins’ limited series “The Underground Railroad,” has signed on for an undisclosed role.

July 23, 2022: “Blade” gets an official release date

Feige announced at San Diego Comic-Con that “Blade” will begin filming in October and will premiere on November 3, 2023.

September 27, 2022: Bassam Tariq leaves his position as director

In a surprise announcement, Tariq withdrew from his position as director of “Blade” approximately two months before filming began. “It has been an honor to work with the amazing people at Marvel,” he said in a statement. “We’ve been able to assemble the cast and crew. Can’t wait to see where the next director takes the film.”

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October 11, 2022: Release date postponed to 2024

As part of a broader change in its release calendar, Marvel Studios has postponed “Blade” from November 3, 2023, to September 6, 2024.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - December 6: Yann Demange attends the conference

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for the Red Sea International Film Festival

November 21, 2022: Yann Demange joins the production as director, and Michael Starberry joins as screenwriter.

Demange began his directorial career on television shows such as “Dead Set” and “Top Boy,” and directed the 2014 thriller “71” and the 2018 crime drama “White Boy Rick.” He also directed the pilot for the HBO series “Lovecraft Country.”

Starberry – who is set to write a new screenplay for the film – has written on shows such as “Colin in Black & White” and “When They See Us.”

February 14, 2023: Feige says ‘Blade’ will start production in ’10 weeks or so’

In an interview with Entertainment WeeklyFeige said that work on “Blade” is “going well” and that “the cameras will be rolling in the next 10 weeks or so.”

April 12, 2023: Mia Goth joins the cast

The actor, who had a huge hit in 2022 with “X” and “Pearl,” joined the party with — you guessed it! – Undisclosed role.

Nick Pizzolatto Mahershala Ali

GT

April 28, 2023: Nick Pizzolatto signs on to write the screenplay

Pizzolatto — who first worked with Ali on the third season of HBO’s “True Detective” — was hired as a screenwriter just days before the WGA strike began.

May 5, 2023: Pre-production on “Blade” is halted during the writers’ strike

As Feige noted earlier this year, the film was expected to begin production in about a month.

June 13, 2023: Release date postponed to 2025

Amid an ongoing writers’ strike and a looming actors’ strike, Disney has delayed movie releases across its entire calendar, moving “Blade” from September 6, 2024, to February 14, 2025.

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November 1, 2023: Michael Green joins as screenwriter

diverse It was reported that Feige hired the “Logan” screenwriter to start over after Ali was dissatisfied with previous drafts, including one that was led by women and had Blade as the fourth lead.

November 9, 2023: Marvel pushes “Blade” again

As part of a company-wide adjustment following the writers’ and actors’ strike, “Blade” has been postponed from February 15, 2025, to November 7, 2025.

December 6, 2023: Ali says he’s “genuinely encouraged” by the progress on the film

“We’re working on it. That’s the best I can tell you,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. “I’m really encouraged by the direction of the project. We will return to it relatively soon. … I’m honestly encouraged in terms of where things are and who’s on board and who’s leading the way in terms of screenwriting and directing and all of that. That’s the extent of what I can tell you.”

March 17, 2024: Aaron Pierre says he is no longer a member of ‘Blade’

“Early on, there were conversations,” the actor said. diverse On the red carpet of the 55th NAACP Image Awards. “As the project evolved, I was no longer a part of it — connected to it.”

As is the case with almost all Marvel actors, the studio has not officially announced Pierre’s involvement.

June 12, 2024: Yann Demange leaves as director, and Eric Pearson joins as screenwriter.

After nearly two years taking the directing reins, Demange quietly left the production, which was reported weeks later.

Meanwhile, veteran Marvel writer Eric Pearson (The Fantastic Four, Black Widow, Thor: Ragnarok) has signed on to write the script, making him at least the sixth writer to handle the script. Included “X-Men ’97” lead writer Bo Di Maio. The hiring of Pearson — who is viewed internally as the person closest to being able to get the scripts to the finish line — could be the most promising sign yet that “Blade” will finally have its day in the sun.

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