Blade is arguably the first modern superhero movie. Unlike many 90s superhero projects, though, it took the character seriously and respected the comic book source material. Not to mention it’s also a very cool and stylish pulp horror/action film.
So, it was definitely surprising when we recently learned that studio executives had asked writer David S. Goyer if there was any chance they could make Blade a white character. His response was quick and to the point, with the scribe telling them “absolutely fucking not!”
Now, Blade himself – Wesley Snipes – has weighed in on the idea and, as you can imagine, he’s not particularly pleased. In an interview with Yahoo, he said the following:
“I was not aware. I think I heard that from the article but I wasn’t aware that that was part of the history. Hollywood! Can you imagine the creative individual who thought of that?”
And what would Blade have been like with, say, Keanu Reeves in the lead role?
“Wouldn’t be this. That’s for sure. Wouldn’t be as cool, lemme tell you that,” said Snipes.
When I wrote about this potential whitewashing last week, someone quite reasonably pointed out in the comments section that if I didn’t have a problem with characters like Nick Fury and Heimdall being played by black actors, why should I care about Blade being portrayed by a white guy? My response to that is that there are so few interesting and dynamic black characters in comic books that we should treasure the ones we have – particularly when David S. Goyer’s conception of the plot for Blade was rooted in class and racial animosity, with the street-level hero taking on the upper class elites who literally prey on the lower classes.
This was something Snipes realized, too, and wove into the character, with the actor explaining:
“The idea was that I was rehashing or at least touching the coattails of William Marshall, who did Blacula back in the 1970s, and the idea of having the Shaft coat, the long coat, and then being able to do martial arts. It was the perfect storm for me. It was a great opportunity to do something that was rare, and would be a lot of fun and loved by the cats in my neighborhood.”
In the meantime, there’ve been repeated hints that we’ll see Blade turn up in the MCU sometime over the next few years. I’ve missed the character and would be insanely curious to see where he’d fit into the existing dynamics between the heroes (presumably, he’s pretty used to people crumbling into dust around him, so the finale of Infinity War shouldn’t affect him too much).
Even better, Wesley Snipes would love to play the part again. So c’mon Disney, let’s get Blade back in action!