Of the many surprises that Marvel dropped at this year’s Comic-Con – that Jane Foster would be the new Thor, that Scarlet Witch would enter the multiverse with Doctor Strange, etc. – perhaps the most unexpected was Mahershala Ali’s casting as Blade, because it was two surprises in one: 1) Blade will be joining the MCU, and 2) Marvel didn’t bring back Wesley Snipes for the part.
Ali will undoubtedly be great in the role, but then again, Snipes already was great in the role, and fans loved his take on the character. So, here are 5 Reasons We’re Excited About Mahershala Ali’s Blade (And 5 Why Marvel Should’ve Kept Wesley Snipes In The Role).
10 Excited About Ali: He’s An Incredible Actor
With his double whammy of Oscar-winning turns in Moonlight and Green Book, as well as his starring role in the third season of True Detective, Mahershala Ali has more than proven that he’s one of the finest actors working today, with a very bright career ahead of him. He hasn’t been typecast and he’s played a wide range of different characters – different backgrounds, different social standings, different worldviews, and he’s always incorporated all of these things in how he plays the roles – so it’s clear that this guy is an impeccable talent. He’ll bring an award-worthy caliber of acting and a passion to comic book cinema that is seen only in the likes of Heath Ledger and Michael B. Jordan.
9 Keep Snipes: He Was More Than Willing To Return
Ever since the MCU started introducing more obscure characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange to build up a truly fleshed-out world filled with all kinds of characters, Wesley Snipes has thrown his hat in the ring and offered to reprise the role of Blade. Studios have a tendency these days to ignore actors who are crying out to return to fan-favorite roles, like Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson, who are both eager to return to Star Wars, which fans would love, and are yet to receive a call from Lucasfilm. It’s unfortunate that Marvel did the same thing with Wesley Snipes.
8 Excited About Ali: He’ll Give Us A New Take On The Character
Wesley Snipes played a great Blade, and couldn’t have been more perfect for the role, but we’ve already seen his take on the character. He did three whole movies as Blade. Mahershala Ali will bring a whole new take on the character to integrate him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This technique has been used before with tremendous success: Tom Holland gave us a version of Spider-Man that we’d never seen before, and continues to surprise us and differentiate himself from previous movie Spideys even after five movies. Ali will do the same thing with Blade, giving us a version that is different from Snipes’, but just as great and just as true to the character.
7 Keep Snipes: It Could’ve Given His Career The Comeback It Needs
Involvement in the MCU is basically a one-way ticket to stardom, and with that, regular acting work. Ever since he started playing Star-Lord, every studio has been desperate to get Chris Pratt to headline franchises for them, while Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chadwick Boseman are all starring in major non-MCU movies this year. Wesley Snipes was once one of the most popular action movie stars on the planet, with kick-ass films like Demolition Man and Passenger 57, but apart from a role in the third Expendables movie half a decade ago, he hasn’t been seen much at the multiplex. Returning as Blade could’ve given him the career comeback he both needs and deserves.
6 Excited About Ali: He Has Snipes’ blessing
If there was bad blood between Wesley Snipes and Mahershala Ali, or Snipes felt that Ali had stolen the role that was rightfully his, that would be one thing – that would warrant fan outrage – but that’s not the case at all. Ali has Snipes’ blessing. When Ali was first cast and fans were up in arms, Snipes put their minds at ease by telling them that he was excited to see Ali’s take on the character.
On social media, Snipes said, “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. Welcome to the Daywalker Klique.”
5 Keep Snipes: Mahershala Ali Is Already In The MCU
Netflix’s Marvel series might not tie into the movies as closely as the upcoming Disney+ series are going to, and the streaming giant’s mini Marvel-verse is technically dead, but fans aren’t getting all those hours back, so they still consider them a part of the overall story. And as long as the TV shows count, Mahershala Ali is already a part of the MCU, since he played Cottonmouth in Netflix’s Luke Cage series. If Marvel had kept on Wesley Snipes as Blade, then they would’ve avoided this conundrum of continuity. Instead, fans are left with the crushing implication that all that time they spend following the Defenders were, essentially, a waste.
4 Excited About Ali: The MCU Always Casts Roles Perfectly
Every role in the MCU has been perfectly cast so far. If there was some machine that could take a page of a comic book and create an actor from it, they still couldn’t get a more perfect fit for the role of Thor than Chris Hemsworth. And despite the fact Chris Evans had already played the Human Torch, Marvel could see that he was better suited to the goody two-shoes nature of Steve Rogers than the “Aw, shucks!” arrogance of Johnny Storm.
And Robert Downey, Jr. basically is Tony Stark in real life. So, if the powers at Marvel have met with Mahershala Ali and discussed the role and how he would play it and then chosen him for the role over an eager-to-return Wesley Snipes, then we have something truly great coming our way.
3 Keep Snipes: He Came Up With A Lot Of Blade’s Best Dialogue
In some cases, Wesley Snipes wasn’t just playing Blade; he was Blade. He improvised a lot of the character’s most memorable lines from his Blade trilogy, including the immortal quote: “Some motherf****rs are always trying to ice-skate uphill.” He said it during a break between takes and the director liked it so much that he insisted on putting it in the movie – now, that’s most fans’ favorite Blade quote. Granted, Disney’s powers that be wouldn’t look favorably on an actor improvising a line with the word “motherf****rs” in it, but either way, it’s clear that Snipes contributed a lot to the Blade character beyond just doing his scenes and saying his lines, because he really cared.
2 Excited About Ali: He Looks Awesome In Shades
As soon as Mahershala Ali was cast as Blade, moviegoers who saw Alita: Battle Angel a few months ago immediately remembered that his character Vector bore a striking resemblance to Marvel’s beloved vampire hunter. He wore shades, had an ice-cool attitude, and even donned a long black duster in some scenes – and he looked like a total badass, like he was born to play Blade (much like Wesley Snipes was; this seems more like a passing of the torch than a dethroning). Ali has the acting talent to play pretty much anyone, so there’s no no doubt that he’ll play a great Blade – what makes him truly the perfect choice is that he also has the look.
1 Keep Snipes: He’s Earned It
Wesley Snipes has been a lifelong comic book fan. When he first started gaining some clout in Hollywood, he tried to get a Black Panther movie made, but he was shut down for as trivial a reason as executives fearing that moviegoers would think it was about the Black Panther Party. He had to really fight to get Blade produced, because this was at a time when studios considered both comic book movies and movies with a black lead to be risky – and Snipes was trying to get a comic book movie with a black lead into production. But such was his passion that he got the movie made, it was fantastic, audiences turned out, and he ended up making two sequels. Blade went a long way towards ushering in the superhero movie craze in the first place. Snipes has earned his place at the forefront of that craze.