While it would be fair to say that the comic book movie boom as we know it began in earnest with Bryan Singer’s X-Men, which set the template for rounding up ensemble casts comprised of veteran characters and fast-rising stars and building an effects-driven PG-13 franchise around them, the contributions of Wesley Snipes’ Blade should never be overlooked, understated or forgotten.
The entire genre was on its knees following a disastrous 1997, which had seen Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin go down in infamy as one of the worst blockbusters ever made, while Spawn and Shaquille O’Neal’s Steel were panned by critics and flopped at the box office. Just one year later, and Snipes almost single-handedly made superheroes cool again.
Not only did Blade prove to Hollywood that comic book adaptations were still viable if handled correctly, proven by enthusiastic reviews and $131 million earned from theaters against a $45 million budget, but it arrived before The Matrix ensured that every action movie for the foreseeable future was obligated to adopt leather and sunglasses as an aesthetic choice.
As you can see from the reactions below, a single tweet praising Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and the X-Men series for the current success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe did not go down well with Blade supporters.
It’s been 23 years since Blade, and you can guarantee everything Mahershala Ali does in the MCU’s reboot will be compared to what Snipes brought to the role. Not only that, but very few superhero blockbusters have ever bettered the R-rated delight’s thumping first scene, which remains one of the genre’s most iconic openings.