Films based on comic books and graphic novels are big business taking billions of dollars at the box office but this wasn’t always the case. After years of the rights to Marvel comics being sold off for TV shows and rubbish films (often with a tiny budget) movies, then came Marvel studios, their first film, Blade (1998) was a co production with New Line Cinema. Not risking one of their big name comic books their first film and in some ways their most important was Blade. Without its success would all the other Marvel properties have been made, and made with such vast budgets if not for the success of Blade.
A couple of years ago it was reported that the rights to Blade had reverted to Marvel Studios, there has been numerous reports that there was a new film in the works. Would it be a fourth in the existing series or a reboot? If a continuation of the series would Wesley Snipes continue in the title role or would he be replaced? Idris Elba has been frequently mentioned as a replacement. This could be genius casting, not only because he could well be perfect but for the opportunity it creates. The original film series rewrote Blade’s back story, a reboot would give the opportunity to return to an origin closer to the one from the comic books. An origin that like Elba that began in London. Eric Brooks was born in Soho, London in the 1920’s the son of a prostitute. When his mother Tara Brooks experienced difficulties in labour, a doctor was called for but what actually came was the vampire Deacon Frost. Frost feasted on Tara killing her in the process. Blade was born with many of the abilities of a vampire, but without their aversion to daylight. When he was nine years old Eric came across the home of Jamal Afari, vampire-hunter and jazz trumpeter during a vampire attack. The pair destroyed the vampires and Afari became Eric’s mentor training him in hand-to-hand combatant and the use of edged weapons. As he mastered these practices he took the name Blade and became the vampire hunter that first appeared in The Tomb of Dracula comic book.
Idris Elba is not new to the world of vampires having appeared in the fantastic Chanel 4 mini series Ultraviolet (1998). He is also no stranger to comic book movies having already appeared to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), Thor (2011) and will be appearing in Thor: The Dark World later this year. A diverse actor Elba could bring the same dry humour and comedy that Wesley Snipes did to what is essentially a dark story. The tone for a new version would be set by the direction the director chooses, something between what Guillermo del Toro did with Blade II and Christopher Nolan’s Batman films would be perfect. Now the rights are back with Marvel asks the interesting question of where a new series will fit into the existing Marvel Universe. Given the fact that in the original trilogy the vampires existed without the knowledge of the public at large the same would probably be true of a new story. This would allow Blade to exist in the same universe as The Avengers without them necessarily having to come into direct contact, but given the option to crossover in future. It would work just as well if not more so it Blade existed in his own universe without the interference of any other Marvel characters.
Whatever happens it will be good to see new life breathed into a franchise that has already given us to excellent and underrated movies (and a third best forgotten). I just hope they avoid the Disney pitfall of making it a 12A or PG movie, part of the appeal of the Blade is that despite the comic book action it was at its heart a vampire horror.