Mahershala Ali was reportedly up for the role of Commissioner Jim Gordon in Matt Reeves' The Batman, until he was cast as the lead in Blade. Although Warner Bros' Worlds of DC franchise got a little later of a start than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio is forging ahead with both a shared universe - unofficially called the DC Extended Universe - and alternate universe movies like Joker. For its part, the MCU is moving into Phase 4 with the release of Black Widow in May 2020, which was part of the slate of films announced by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Though Blade isn't currently set as a Phase 4 movie, Ali's casting as Blade was additionally confirmed at SDCC.
It's unclear when Blade will release, but Warner Bros. is currently casting its upcoming Batman movie from writer-director Reeves. The filmmaker took over from Ben Affleck, who was originally slated to write, direct and star in a Batman solo movie in the DCEU. However, after Reeves came aboard and completed his script, The Batman cast Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, marking Affleck's official exit from the entire project. The Batman is in the process of casting its other major roles, and it seems Ali was up for a classic DC Comics character, until his Blade casting put him out of the running.
According to Variety reporter Justin Kroll, Ali was in line to play Commissioner Jim Gordon, but then "Blade came around." Though Kroll doesn't explicitly state Ali being cast as Blade took him out of the running for The Batman, that's the implication of his tweet. It's unclear what exactly about the Blade casting precluded Ali from joining The Batman as Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright is currently in talks for the role), whether it was conflicting filming schedules or simply that Warner Bros. didn't want to hire someone who'd be the face of a MCU franchise.
Fun little fact to all the BATMAN news, prior to going out to Wright, Mahershala was in line for the role...and then BLADE came around— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) September 23, 2019
It seems that Blade may have cost Ali the role in The Batman, but the actor undoubtedly made the right choice between the two projects. After all, Commissioner Gordon is a supporting role to Pattinson's hero, whereas Blade will be the star of his own movie. Since The Batman is currently eying Wright for the Commissioner Gordon role, it doesn't seem as though Warner Bros. is opposed to hiring Marvel actors as Wright will voice The Watcher for Marvel's What If...? TV show. Admittedly, those are different situations, though, since Wright's MCU role is voice work whereas Ali's Blade is live-action.
Still, the bigger issue may be filming schedules, which could offer a hint to when Marvel's Blade will release. The Batman is currently slated for June 2021, and while Marvel's 2021 release slate is already full, perhaps Blade could hit theaters in 2022. After all, it was confirmed even before Black Panther 2, which is the only MCU movie slated for 2022 as of this writing. If Ali's filming schedule precluded him from joining The Batman, that means Blade could join the MCU sooner than fans may have expected.
Of course, that's all speculation since it's not yet known why exactly Blade took Ali out of the running for The Batman. As both productions move forward, perhaps the actor or someone involved in either project can offer more insight. Whatever the case may be, fans have plenty of comic book movies to look forward to in the coming years, from The Batman to Blade.
Source: Justin Kroll/Twitter
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022