All the delays in Mahershala Ali’s restart

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 yet to have 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 film 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.

Five years later, however, “Blade” has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and two major strikes, undergone three release date changes, lost two directors and hired 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 all the major developments on “Blade’s” winding road to theaters.

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

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

February 5, 2021: Stacy Osei-Kuffour will 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 BladeBassam Tariq Marvel Studios Blade

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

July 19, 2021: Bassam Tarek signs on as director

Tariq’s best-known 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 appearance as Blade in Marvel’s “Eternals” – but it’s just his voice.

In the final 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 knife, Ali’s voice came off camera: “Are you sure you’re ready for this, Mr. Whitman?”

Harrington said different That while he knew what Dane said at the time, he knew Ali only said it as Blade about three weeks before the film’s premiere. “Chloe texted me that they were doing that,” Harrington said. “It really made me happy to hear that. He is one of my favorite actors right now.” He added that he had “no idea” if the scene meant 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 breakthrough 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 premiere on November 3, 2023.

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

In a surprise announcement, Tariq stepped down from his role as director of “Blade” about two months before filming began. “It was an honor to work with the great people at Marvel,” he said in a statement. “We were able to gather the cast and crew. I can’t wait to see where the next director takes the film.”

October 11, 2022: Release date postponed to 2024

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

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 career as a director 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 will write a new screenplay for the film — has written for shows like “Colin in Black & White” and “When They See Us.”

February 14, 2023: Feige says ‘Blade’ will begin production in ‘about ten weeks’

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Feige said work on “Blade” is “going well” and that “cameras will be rolling in the next ten weeks.”

April 12, 2023: Mia Goth joins the cast

The actor, who had a big hit in 2022 with ‘X’ and ‘Pearl’, attended the party with – you guessed it! – Undisclosed role.

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, production was expected to begin in about a month.

June 13, 2023: Release date postponed to 2025

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

November 1, 2023: Michael Green joins as screenwriter

different It was reported that Feige had hired screenwriter “Logan” 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 is “genuinely encouraged” by the film’s progress

“We are working on it. That’s the best I can tell you,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. “I am very encouraged by the direction of the project. We’ll get back to it relatively soon. … I’m honestly encouraged in terms of where things are and who’s on board and who’s taking the lead on screenwriting and directing and all 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’

“There were conversations early on,” the actor said. different On the red carpet at the 55th NAACP Image Awards. “As the project evolved, I was no longer part of it, but connected to it.”

As is the case with virtually 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 of directing, 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 pen the script, making him at least the sixth writer to helm the script. Includes ‘X-Men ’97’ head writer Bo Di Maio. The hiring of Pearson — who is seen internally as the person who comes closest to seeing the scripts through to fruition — could be the most promising sign yet that “Blade” will finally get its day in the sun to have.