Blade star Wesley Snipes didn’t know the studio considered whitewashing the character during development. Blade is commonly considered to be the movie that kicked off the current comic book movie craze. Blade was based on a cult, B-list Marvel character who hunts vampires, with the movie reinventing him as a human/vampire hybrid with high tech weapons. The movie also featured great action sequences, a fresh take on the vampire myth and some fun supporting characters, like Blade’s crusty human partner Whistler.
Blade became an unexpected smash, leading to other studios greenlighting projects like X-Men and Spider-Man. The movie itself received two sequels, with some feeling Guillermo del Toro’s Blade II actually surpasses the original, and 2004’s Blade: Trinity instantly killing the series. Trinity was a famously troubled production, starting life as a post-apocalyptic adventure where Blade has to save the human race from extinction before budget cuts forced it to become Blade Vs Dracula. Snipes hated the changes and clashed constantly with director David S. Goyer, with many of his scenes being shot with a stand-in instead.
Goyer also served as the screenwriter for the first two Blade movies, and in a recent EW article on the first movie, he revealed an executive at the studio actually asked if the character could be white. Goyer shot that notion down, and it turns out even Snipes hadn’t heard about this studio note, as he revealed in an interview with Yahoo!:
I was not aware. I think I heard that from the article but I wasn’t aware that that was part of the history. Hollywood! Can you imagine the creative individual who thought of that?
The fact the idea of whitewashing Blade was considered - no matter how briefly - is pretty disappointing. Blade’s background is an integral part of the character, so giving the role to a white actor in some misguided attempt to be more commercial would have been a huge mistake. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like the concept got very far. Whitewashing has become a much bigger issue in recent years - as seen by the controversy's that greeted last year's Ghost in the Shell, for example - but its hard to imagine this change would have been well-received back in 1998 either.
Blade is also seen as a precursor to the success of Marvel’s Black Panther, and it turns out Snipes spent years developing a Black Panther movie for himself. The slow development on that project led to him taking on Blade instead, and while he tried to mount the movie again after Blade’s success, it never escaped development hell. There don’t appear to be any plans for a future Blade movie at the moment, but Snipes has said more than once he’d be game to revisit the role if approached.