In an era where Marvel Studios can seem to do no wrong, it can be hard to remember that the first successful Marvel Comics character to headline his own film wasn’t a superhero in a suit of armor or in a red cape. It was New Line Cinema’s “Blade” from 1998 which provided the foundation for much of the success that superhero films (Marvel’s in particular) would have for over a decade later. Today (August 25) both Bleeding Cool and Slash Film are reporting that a fourth film in the “Blade” franchise is in development set to feature the slayer’s daughter that will debut in the comics first under writer/co-creator Tim Seeley.
Among the new launches that are set to spring up in the wake of “Secret Wars” is a brand new “Blade” comic book series. It would be the first for the longtime vampire hunter since 2007; despite his longtime success in film, the character has struggled to thrive in the comics for some time. Back in July, it was announced that writer Tim Seeley and artist Logan Faerber were going to helm a relaunch of “Blade” with a catch. Although Blade himself would feature in the series, the star would actually be his 16 year old daughter, Fallon Grey. The original pitch was described thus: “Fallon Grey is a sixteen year old girl from rural Oregon. Nominated for Prom Queen, Captain of the debate team, most popular girl in her class. But there is another side to Fallon. A feeling like there’s something more inside of her. When terror strikes her small town, she’ll find out just how right she was. As fearsome supernatural forces hunt Fallon, she’ll come face to face with something even more shocking than the monsters on her tail. Eric Brooks…Blade…her father?! And in each other, they’ll discover the purpose they’ve each been struggling to find”. Seeley further described Fallon Gray by saying, “She’s a sort of ‘anti-Peter Parker.’ She’s popular, she’s well-liked and it seems like the world is her oyster. But, the expectations that come with being so damn perfect are starting to break her down, and that’s before she learns she’s the heir to a Daywalking-Monster-Stabbing-Empire”. However, the comic itself has been delayed until October for unknown reasons. While one of them could be the fact that the main “Secret Wars” mini series is running behind (which naturally effects the schedules of all material around it), Bleeding Cool is also claiming it is because Marvel Studios sees the heroine as a potential box office star and thus are working with the comic crew to ensure a proper release.
Blade, a.k.a. Eric Brooks, was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colon in 1973’s “Tomb of Dracula #10” as the child of woman who gave birth during a fatal vampire attack who thereafter sought to eliminate all vampires from the earth. Derived in part from pop culture at the time, the character would go on to feature heavily in a variety of vampire themed comics as well as other related supernatural series (such as the “Midnight Sons” imprint) throughout the 1990’s. He likely got his biggest push when he appeared in the second season of “Spider-Man: the Animated Series” on FoxKids in 1995 (as voiced by J.D. Hall). This brought Blade not only to the attention of mainstream audiences, but also Avi Arad, who would go on to co-produce a variety of superhero films (including the original film in ’98). Starring Wesley Snipes in the title role, “Blade” would go on to gross over $131 million on a budget of $40 million and received critical acclaim (including from the late Roger Ebert). The sequel in 2002, directed by Guillermo del Toro, did even better, scoring at least $155 million from a budget of some $50 million and is often considered the peak of the film series. The final film in the trilogy, 2004’s “Blade: Trinity”, was profitable but plagued by bad blood on set as well as a weaker box office gross than the original (despite a higher budget). Unwilling to give up on the franchise, a TV show starring Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones debuted on Spike TV in 2006, but lasted only one season. Blade also earned his own anime series under a deal with Madhouse Studios in 2010-2011 (which aired in North America on G4).
Wesley Snipes, who recently spent three years in prison under tax evasion before returning to the big screen in last year’s “The Expendables 3”, apparently wants to return to the role (or some other Marvel Studios project). Many years ago he stated more than once that another Marvel character on his “to do” list was Black Panther; Chadwick Boseman has since been cast as the jungle king. Although New Line Cinema (which produced all three “Blade” films) has been a part of Time Warner since 1996 and the greater Warner Brothers empire since 2008, the license rights to the character officially reverted back to Marvel in 2013. As Marvel Studios may be seeking to delve into different genres besides straightforward superheroes for their future films (as evidenced by producing “Doctor Strange”), it seems inevitable that they would seek to capitalize on their first successful big screen hero. Rather than going for a reboot, allowing the previous “Blade” films to remain by having Snipes reprise the role as Blade while aiding in ushering in his daughter could not only capitalize on both name recognition and nostalgia (as it may be fifteen years since the last “Blade” film by the time all this is done), but to fill a gap that Marvel Studios has in terms of both leading ladies and heroes of color. It might also be fun if they could have Fallon befriend another daughter of a monster hunter, Elsa Bloodstone (best known for Warren Ellis’ “Nextwave”), in some capacity. At any rate, while this may be a rumor, it is quite an interesting one.