It's true what they say about honor among vampire hunters ... This past Saturday, Kevin Feige came to SDCC's Hall H with massive announcements about the movies that will come to define Phase 4 of the MCU. While all of the developments were mind-blowing (Jane Foster returns as Thor! A true-to-the-comics Mandarin!), our jaws really fell to the floor when Mahershala Ali (Vector in Alita: Battle Angel) walked onstage, confirming his casting for a big-screen Blade reboot.
He'll be the third actor to bring the badass vampire hunter created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan to the live-action medium, after Wesley Snipes played the hero in three film adaptations between 1998 and 2004 and rapper/actor Sticky Fingaz starred in 2006's Blade TV series. The second installment of the film franchise, Blade II, was directed by none other than Guillermo del Toro. Despite the fact that many find Snipes to be the definitive cinematic version of Eric Brooks, the actor could not have been more gracious about passing on the blood-sucking torch to somebody new.
“To all the DAYWALKERS losing their minds right now, chillaaxx,” Snipes said in a statement obtained by SYFY WIRE. “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. Honor and respect to the grandmaster Stan [Lee]. 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 story.’ Welcome to the Daywalker Klique.”
This will be Ali's second foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after his tour-de-force performance as Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes on Season 1 of Luke Cage. However, since the shared world of the Marvel Netflix shows (now all canceled) is still considered to be somewhat separate from the films, the forthcoming Blade project is to be Ali's genuine entry into the MCU proper. There's also some talk about it being the studio's first R-rated comic book effort, but it'll most likely be a while before anything like that is confirmed.
That said, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility, especially when you consider three things: A) Disney now owns Deadpool, B) Doctor Strange 2, subtitled in the Multiverse of Madness, will be the MCU's first-ever horror movie, and C) Disney+ Marvel titles like WandaVision will tie into the movies. Feige & Co. are getting a bit weird, experimental, and unpredictable with Phase 4, which is something they've certainly earned the right to do after 10+ years of building up goodwill with audiences.
To date, Ali has nabbed two well-deserved Oscar wins for Best Supporting Actor thanks to his powerfully moving roles in Moonlight and Green Book.