What's Next For Marvel's 'Blade' Franchise?

Punisher and Blade in Marvel Comics

If you asked Wesley Snipes years ago if he'd like to star in a fourth Blade movie, he'd say "yeah," if the script was right. And by the 'right script' he'd mean one that doesn't include secondary heroes taking his screen time away. That was one of the many issues the actor and production endured during the making of 2004's Blade: Trinity - a film that put an end to the R-Rated Marvel character's career on the big screen and saw the franchise's worst critical slamming.

The script was just one minor part of problems that plagued Blade 3 and even though Trinity director David S. Goyer - now a big time writer for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment - said five years ago that New Line Cinema was interested in reviving the series, they didn't and Marvel Studios reacquired the film rights to the property. There's a potential future for the Blade character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing the same world that The Avengers movies, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series on ABC and upcoming Netflix programs all occupy. But not anytime soon.

Part of the problem with Disney's Marvel Entertainment reacquiring the film licenses to all of their library of characters it that less characters will get movies made. Marvel Studios only makes two-three films per year. If you had six studios making Marvel-branded films, you could double or triple that. If Marvel owned Spider-Man and X-Men for instance, you'd never get your recent record-breaking hit known as Guardians of the Galaxy. And that would suck.

Wesley Snipes Blade Wallpaper

They currently own Blade, and reacquired quite a few other notable properties in recent years, but there are no current plans to fit them in just yet. Marvel Studios president of production and super producer Kevin Feige told EW a year ago:

"So Punisher, Ghost Rider, … Blade, all those characters are back. They all have potential, but I think we need to find the right time. We’re not going to say, we got it back — make it."

So, when thee NY Daily News sneakily dropped a potentially MAJOR scoop in the middle of a column last Thursday claiming they've heard from inside sources close to Wesley Snipes that he signed a $3 million deal with Marvel to play Blade in a new movie, we didn't quite believe it. Here's what they wrote:

...Wesley Snipes is set to reprise his lead role in “Blade,” the 1998 vampire thriller that made more than $130 million and generated two sequels.

Sources close to Snipes tells us the 52-year-old actor’s comeback after being released from prison in April 2013 (after serving two and a half years for tax evasion) is “looking good” and that he’ll make $3 million from this film, plus a cut of the profits.

Weird. We reached out to the author for info on whether this is a confirmed film for Marvel or another Marvel project and will update if we hear back. Our line of thoughts puts into question why would Marvel would ever want to launch a new franchise tied to the old movies which met a hard end with Blade: Trinity and a short-lived low budget TV series? And why would they relaunch Blade with a 52 year-old actor as the lead, especially given how he was to work with? We'll let actor and comedian Patton Oswalt explain the partly funny, partly nightmarish conditions working on the set of Blade: Trinity from his interview with The A.V. Club in November 2012:

It was just one of those; it was a very troubled production. Wesley [Snipes] was just fucking crazy in a hilarious way. He wouldn't come out of his trailer, and he would smoke weed all day. Which is fine with me, because I had all these DVDs that I wanted to catch up on. We were in Vancouver, and it was always raining. I kept the door to my trailer open to smell the evening rain while I was watching a movie. Then I remember one day on the set—they let everyone pick their own clothes—there was one black actor who was also kind of a club kid. And he wore this shirt with the word “Garbage” on it in big stylish letters. It was his shirt. And Wesley came down to the set, which he only did for close-ups. Everything else was done by his stand-in. I only did one scene with him. But he comes on and goes, “There’s only one other black guy in the movie, and you make him wear a shirt that says ‘Garbage?’ You racist motherfucker!”

And he tried to strangle the director, David Goyer. So later that night, Ron Perlman was in the city. Everyone who makes movies in Vancouver stays in the same hotel. It’s like an episode of The Love Boat. Every time the elevator stops, you've got a different celebrity getting on. Like, [announcer voice] “Hey, now we've got Danny Glover!” So we went out that night to some strip club, and we were all drinking. And there were a bunch of bikers there, so David says to them, “I’ll pay for all your drinks if you show up to set tomorrow and pretend to be my security.” Wesley freaked out and went back to his trailer. [Laughs.] And the next day, Wesley sat down with David and was like, “I think you need to quit. You’re detrimental to this movie.” And David was like, “Why don’t you quit? We've got all your close-ups, and we could shoot the rest with your stand-in.” And that freaked Wesley out so much that, for the rest of the production, he would only communicate with the director through Post-it notes. And he would sign each Post-it note “From Blade.” [Laughs.]

At least he loves being Blade.

Marvel will eventually do something with Blade and it's part of the reason they want characters like him, Punisher and Ghostrider back. But is Snipes signed for a $3 million deal for a movie currently in development? We doubt it. There's no room for it right now and Marvel's TV division is just beginning their foray into Netflix in what will be four separate series and a shared miniseries titled The Defenders.

Here's our idea for what they can do with Blade instead: After the Netflix shows debut (or sooner) and subscribers meet Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, if it's a success - and it will be with the Netflix and Marvel marketing machines behind it - Marvel can find a home for another similarly-sized connected universe built with that structure. Before the Netflix partnership was made official, reports had Marvel pitching that package of programming to various other platforms including Amazon, WGN America and cable networks.

What if they had another package, their first R-rated one, with another four heroes/antiheroes. We could call it the Marvel Knights, a brand Marvel Comics utilizes for miniseries that "think outside the box." It could be the home for the likes of Blade, Punisher and Ghostrider and you can take your pick for the fourth (Moon Knight and Black Panther both need some love). These characters could have their origin stories told and they can form their own little team, and the characters that are the most successful could crossover back and forth with the movies. It's a much-needed expansion of the MCU to get some of these under-appreciated characters some love on a more niche-friendly platform. It could even be an extension to "Phase 1" of the Netflix plans. After all, Captain America 1, 2 & 3 writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely did hint that there's something on the way that's R-Rated form Marvel...

With Twilight out of the way and Underworld getting a reboot, maybe the time is right for an adult-focused vampire killing machine powered by Marvel? It'll likely be something new with a younger star locked into a long-term deal.

Sorry, Mr. Snipes. Best of luck in The Expendables 4 and the battle against piracy.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!

Sources: EW, NY Daily NewsThe A.V. Club,

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