What's going on with Blade, Marvel's most cursed reboot?

It's now five years since Mahershala Ali was announced as the new vampire hunter.

President of Marvel studios Kevin Feige (C) welcomes US actor Mahershala Ali on stage during the Marvel panel in Hall H of the Convention Center during Comic Con in San Diego, California on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige introducing Mahershala Ali as the new Blade. (Chris Delmas/AFP)

Marvel Studios just can't seem to shift its Blade-shaped headache, as the heavily-delayed blockbuster starring Mahershala Ali lost its second director Yann Demange a few days ago.

Announced at 2019's San Diego Comic-Con International as part of the company's Phase 5 rollout, this tantalising reboot has not only a double Oscar-winner in the lead role previously filled by Wesley Snipes across three pre-MCU movies between 1998 and 2004, but also a richly dark 51-year comic book history to draw from.

Along with this summer's Deadpool & Wolverine and next year's The Fantastic Four, Blade has the potential to be one of Marvel's most indelible outings to date - so what's going on?

Wesley Snipes in 2002 sequel Blade II, directed by Guillermo del Toro. (New Line Cinema)

Tellingly, it took two years for this vampire-hunter's reawakening to settle on a director: Mogul Mowgli's Bassam Tariq. Two months before its slated production start date, though, he officially exited the director's chair whilst remaining on as an executive producer.

"It's been an honour working with the wonderful folks at Marvel. We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film," read Tariq's departing statement.

The movie's planned release was then switched from 3 November, 2023 to 6 September, 2024.

Berlin, Germany. 21st Feb, 2020. 70th Berlinale, Photocall, Panorama, Mogul Mowgli: director and screenplay writer Bassam Tariq. The International Film Festival takes place from 20.02. to 01.03.2020. Credit: Gregor Fischer/dpa/Alamy Live News
Bassam Tariq. (Gregor Fischer/dpa/Alamy Live News)

Yann Demange, director of the underseen Troubles thriller '71 and TV horror series Dead Set, was announced as Bariq's replacement in November '22.

Off the back of his Matthew McConaughey movie White Boy Rick in 2018, this was a promising appointment indeed, but the concurrent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes of 2023 halted Blade's scheduled shoot last June.

Five months later, as part of a company-wide reshuffling and with still no footage in the can, Blade's theatrical unveiling got pushed back to November '25.

Between then and June '24, Demange quietly became the second director to leave Blade, with an official announcement from Variety confirming this unfortunate parting of ways was at least amicable.

At the time of writing, a third filmmaker is yet to be chosen. Quentin Tarantino is free, just saying...

Director Yann Demange poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'White Boy Rick', in London, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Yann Demange. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Although it's not as uncommon for screenwriters to come and go on a big-screen behemoth, Blade has seen at least six scribes have a pop at the script.

Watchmen's Osei-Kuffour was the first to become attached in 2021, but his draft was subsequently taken on by When They See Us writer Michael Starrbury the year after.

Main man Ali's old True Detective pal Nic Pizzolatto was brought onboard in 2023, but even his efforts weren't good enough. Logan's Michael Green started from scratch, according to Variety, after Blade was apparently relegated to fourth lead in the previous female-driven storyline.

However, Marvel eventually landed on someone closer to home with a safe pair of hands: Black Widow and Thor: Ragnarok writer Eric Pearson, who came in as Demange left.

Let's see if he can give Blade the return he deserves.

Mahershala Ali at the New York premiere of Netflix's
The two-time Oscar-winning actor seems committed to getting Blade made, at least. (John Nacion/Variety via Getty Images)

Despite all of this chaos behind the scenes, one constant on the Blade team has been Ali. Even his attorney Shelby Weiser seems perplexed, recently telling The Hollywood Reporter: "That deal was in 2019, and they still haven't shot it, which is pretty much the craziest thing in my professional experience."

Back in 2020, the star recalled pitching himself to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige after hearing of the reboot's development.

"I just wanted to be considered for it because I had definitely a connection, at least in my mind, to Wesley Snipes going back to high school," explained Ali. "People use to joke and say that we looked alike and all this stuff.

"I just brought it up as someone who really wanted to take on that [Blade] role and tackle that. He's a little bit darker than some of the other ones and so that element was attractive to me."

He'd be silly to pass up bringing something fresh and ferocious to the MCU, and he clearly knows it. The chance to work opposite co-stars Mia Goth and Delroy Lindo isn't too shabby either.

Blade currently has a release date of 7 November, 2025.