In a shocking announcement near the end of their SDCC panel, Marvel Studios reveals that Mahershala Ali has been cast as the MCU version of Blade. Long before the days of the MCU dominating at the box office, and even before Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy helped re-establish superhero movies as hits, New Line Cinema released a trilogy of films starring half-human/half-vampire hero Blade. The Daywalker was played in those films by Wesley Snipes, earning acclaim from most fans of the character.
That was until 2004's Blade: Trinity, a complete mess that was infamously made worse by on-set acrimony between star Snipes and director David Goyer. Not even the hilarious presence of a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds could save the threequel from being widely reviled. Outside of a short-lived TV series, Blade has been absent from the live-action world ever since, despite Snipes making it known multiple times that he would love to reprise the role again in the MCU.
While Marvel Studios got the film and TV rights to Blade back a few years ago, up until now, there's been zero movement on a revival of the character. That was at least before Marvel Studios' jaw-dropping late-game announcement of a new Blade film during their Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con. While it's unclear when exactly the film is planned to release, or when it'll begin production, we do know who'll play Blade: Oscar-winner (and former Luke Cage villain) Mahershala Ali.
While some fans, and undoubtedly Snipes himself, will be disappointed that the actor won't get to play Blade again, they really shouldn't be surprised. For one, Snipes is 56-years-old, and hasn't made a film on the scale of an MCU blockbuster in a long time. For two, Snipes' behavior, warranted or not, on the set of Blade: Trinity likely discouraged Marvel Studios from wanting to risk a similar situation now. The MCU schedule is too rigidly planned to accommodate such a fiasco, especially after already enduring the long saga of James Gunn's firing and rehiring for Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
As for Ali, he's also a popular fan casting for Blade, so a large segment of Marvel devotees will be pleased to see him come aboard. Playing Blade on the big screen will no doubt serve to make Ali an even bigger Hollywood superstar. Interestingly, the fact that Ali already played villain Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes in Netflix's Luke Cage series serves to reinforce just how disconnected the Marvel Studios and Marvel TV products ended up being, despite frequent previous claims that everything was connected.