In this installment of comic-based films we turn to the (now) venerable Marvel character, Blade, and how the Blade films provided the much needed life for the flagging Marvel empire enabling the later development of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Blade, a half-human/half-vampire, vampire hunter was created by Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan in 1973 as a supporting character in the Marvel comic series, The Tomb of Dracula. While in labour, Blade’s mother was bitten by a vampire which instilled some vampiric traits in Blade, typically a resistance to vampire bites and hypnosis. Later in the character’s story arc he picks up some of the other traits such as enhanced strength, healing, speed and so on. He also has an extended life span, is unaffected by daylight (from his human side) – hence his nickname of ‘Daywalker’, and is well-versed in martial arts and weaponry, languages, and all manner of lore and knowledge. A veritable renaissance man of the superhuman world. (More on the comic version of Blade here).
However, most people who are aware of Blade as a popular culture character have come to him via the transmedia storytelling that includes films, television, and video games. More recently, Blade has been a central character in the recent Marvel comic series, Heroes Reborn, which sees Blade as the only person who can remember that reality without the Avengers is not what it’s meant to be and who sets out to fix that by recreating that superhero team. (That series has now been followed by Marvel’s Heroes Return.
There were three Blade films starring Wesley Snipes as the titular character:
- Blade (1998) – Stephen Norrington (director)
- Blade II (2002) – Guillermo del Toro (director)
- Blade: Trinity (2004) – David S. Goyer (director)
The films were well-received by the viewing public and it has been commented that they proved that there was scope for cinematic renditions of second or third-string comics book characters. In doing do, the foundation for the sprawling interlocking Marvel Cinematic Universe of films was laid. Marvel plan to include Blade more fully in that universe in the near future (See: Marvel is rebooting Blade, with Mahershala Ali set to star).
- How ‘Blade’ Laid the Groundwork for the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Watch
- How Blade saved Marvel — and paved the way for the MCU
The Blade films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and the writing and some of the acting is not great, but they are a good old-fashioned action romp with a superhero who feels a little more human than some of the others who walk the movie screens. However, they did earn R-ratings from the censors.
There was also a television series, Blade: The Series, and the Blade character featured in a number of cameos in animated Marvel properties.
And there are also the memes. So many memes. 🙂