ByTom Bacon, writer at Creators.co
I'm a British guy who has a particular love of superhero movies - and I'm having a great time writing for Movie Pilot! Feel free to foll...
Tom Bacon

It's finally happened. With Ghost Rider now an integral part of the #MCU, #Marvel has embraced magic like never before. But Ghost Rider isn't Marvel's only mystical superstar, and fans are eagerly awaiting news on another big name — the vampire hunter called Blade. Rumors have been swirling for months that Marvel has plans for Blade, and these have come to a head in the aftermath of New York Comic Con!

What's the News?

Will Blade return? Image: New Line Cinema
Will Blade return? Image: New Line Cinema

There are always a lot of Marvel panels at NYCC, but surprisingly the news about Blade came in the Underworld panel. Kate Beckinsale - who plays the star, Selene - was asked about the possibility of an Underworld / Blade crossover (an idea that any fan would jump at). Her response gave the game away:

"No. We had that idea. No. They're busy. They're doing something with Blade."

It's an exciting teaser, and it got fans seriously excited for a few days. In an interview with The Playlist, #KevinFeige - President of Marvel Studios - explained:

“They did ask a long time ago and I think our answer was, ‘No, we’ll do something with ‘Blade’ at some point.’ That’s still the answer... Between the movies, the Netflix shows, the ABC shows there are so many opportunities for the character to pop up as you’re now seeing with Ghost Rider on ‘AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ that rather than team up with another studio on that character let’s do something on our own. What that is? Where that will be? We’ll see. There is nothing imminent to my knowledge.”

It's an answer that will disappoint fans, suggesting that Marvel turned down the Underworld crossover because they simply felt he was too good a character not to use sooner or later. The fact that Feige - the visionary of the MCU - has no specific plans confirms what we already suspected, that Blade won't come to the movies any time soon. Disney has openly stated that there won't be R-rated Marvel movies (a Blade film would surely be R-rated), so the character would logically be better suited to Marvel Entertainment's TV and Netflix shows.

Who is Blade?

Created in 1973, Blade is traditionally depicted as a vampire who hunts his own race. The character was redesigned for 1998's Blade, where he was played by Wesley Snipes, and is arguably one of the most important cinematic superheroes of all; until the success of Blade, studios had tended to dismiss Marvel properties, and Marvel had struggled to get their franchises taken seriously. Marvel quietly rewrote the comic book character to align with Snipes's portrayal.

The film shows Blade as a stoic warrior, a Daywalker who can walk in the sun, and who has trained to fight vampires at every turn. He's a physical powerhouse, skilled in countless martial arts, and wielding anti-vampire weapons with deadly skill.

How Could Blade Fir With Marvel Netflix?

A teaser for Blade the Hunter. Image: Marvel Comics
A teaser for Blade the Hunter. Image: Marvel Comics

#Marvel Comics works to an annual calendar, in which each year's event leads to a relaunch of the comic book range. Last year was the most dramatic, with the "Secret Wars" event temporarily destroying the entire Marvel Multiverse. Marvel followed this up with the largest-scale relaunch the company has ever attempted, on the scale of DC's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths relaunch. It was only moderately successful, in large part because of delays with the core Secret Wars title.

In July last year, Marvel announced a whole new series as part of that year's relaunch, called Blade the Hunter. Written by Tim Seeley, this would introduce us to Blade's daughter, Fallon Grey, a high school teenager who would be thrown into the world of the supernatural when she discovered her father's identity. It sounded to be a fascinating concept, and Seeley - who has great skill and experience writing books with a central teenage character - seemed a natural choice.

The design for Fallon Grey. Image: Marvel Comics
The design for Fallon Grey. Image: Marvel Comics

Unfortunately, the Internet disagreed. Social media fumed that Blade the Hunter wasn't being written by someone who's black, and Tim Seeley quit in the hopes Marvel could find a more diverse team. Blade the Hunter has yet to happen, and possibly never will. While I very much support the push for diversity in comics, I admit that I do find it saddening that this Internet backlash effectively stopped development of a book dead in its tracks.

Here's the interesting thing, though; from the very first moment that series was advertized, rumors swirled that Marvel Entertainment was deeply interested in the idea. It seemed like a natural fit for Marvel's darker Netflix world. That's still possible, with Marvel Netflix growing in importance.

There are problems with Marvel Netflix, though, and they're just now becoming visible. While Netflix has a growing focus on original content, the company's leadership seem to be wary of filling their service with superheroes. As a result, Netflix intends to release only two-to-three shows a year. This means, for example, that Daredevil Season 3 won't air until 2018.

Not exactly 'coming soon'. Image: Netflix
Not exactly 'coming soon'. Image: Netflix

This leaves us in an awkward position. Netflix has the rights to produce a wide range of shows - Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and even The Punisher. But for every show Netflix signs up to, we'll wind up with even bigger delays. If Netflix signs off on a second season of Luke Cage, at current release rate we're unlikely to see it until 2019! The more Marvel franchises Netflix chooses to produce, the longer these delays will become. Perhaps this explains why Marvel's plans for Ghost Rider shifted over to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Could We See Blade in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. moving to a later timeslot, ABC's intention is to make the show darker than it's ever been before. What's more, we've already had a nod to the Darkhold; in the comics, this book of dark magic was used to create the races of vampires and werewolves! So it's entirely possible that Marvel will choose to introduce more than just the one mystical superhero in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

If Marvel did take this approach, though, it would probably mean a change in casting - Wesley Snipes is unlikely to return as Blade for anything other than a lead role in a series. For many fans, Snipes is seen as the very embodiment of Blade (it doesn't hurt that Marvel Comics adapted the character to match the cinematic version). He's openly said that he's open to returning to Marvel, and fans are watching with eager hope. One of the advantages to a Netflix series such as Blade the Hunter is that it could easily use Snipes's version of Blade, implicitly placing the movie trilogy in the wider MCU. Introducing a whole new version of Blade would certainly disappoint these fans.

See also:

I'm not entirely sure which approach Marvel will take; frankly, both have their advantages. Personally, I'd love to see the concept of Blade the Hunter become a reality, because it seems to be very, very cool. While I respect Tim Seeley for stepping down because he wanted Marvel to have a chance to improve diversity, I also hate the fact that decision meant the book has been in limbo for over a year. But whether Blade enters the MCU through a Netflix series or through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I'm pretty confident that it's only a matter of time!

Do you want to see a Blade Netflix series or Blade appear in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let me know in the comments!

Perhaps Wesley Snipes won't return. Image: New Line Cinema
Perhaps Wesley Snipes won't return. Image: New Line Cinema