Blade Finally Has A New Director And Gritty Tone

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Blade has a new director, Yann Demange, and screenwriter, Michael Starrbury.

By Nathan Kamal
| Published

Marvel Studios has chosen a new director for its upcoming Blade movie: French-Algerian director ​​Yann Demange. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Mahershala Ali-starring reboot film will be helmed by Demange and is also bringing a new writer aboard, the Emmy-nominated Michael Starrbury. Yann Demange and Michael Starrbury are joining the project after the sudden departure of original director Bassam Tariq in pre-production. 

Yann Demange is best known for the crime thriller film White Boy Rick, which starred Matthew McConaughey, and for directing the pilot episode of the acclaimed HBO limited series Lovecraft Country. Michael Starrbury was nominated for an Emmy for writing an episode of When They See Us and created the animated series Legends of Chamberlain Heights.

Blade was first announced all the way back in 2019, which would be a long time for any studio except Marvel. As it is, Marvel President Kevin Feige frequently reveals film and series projects that are years in the future, which presumably gives the studio plenty of time to plan out the action, get the scripts in order, and figure out what color of laser beams various heroes and villains will shoot at each other. However, that seems to have backfired with Blade, as there were reports of creative conflict between star Mahershala Ali and Bassam Tariq. 

The director officially left the project in September, with the film scheduled to go into production in November; reportedly, both the studio and Mahershala Ali were upset at the lack of action in the film and the quality of the script. The Hollywood Reporter is also indicating that the newest version of Blade will also take a darker, more violent tone, likely in an attempt to match the earlier, Wesley Snipes-starring Blade films. 

While Blade has existed in Marvel Comics since 1973 (created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan), it was the Wesley Snipes movies that made him a household name and helped revive comic book adaptation movies in the early 2000s. Along with the X-Men films, the Blade trilogy offered a more serious, nuanced version of comic book narratives than filmgoing audiences were largely used to at the time.

Since it was announced that Mahershala Ali was to play Blade for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he has only appeared in one project and in voice alone. In a post-credits sequence to 2021’s Eternals, Mahershala Ali spoke to Kit Harington briefly; the teaser amped up fans even more for the acclaimed actor to portray the Daywalker, and it seems we might finally be getting a step closer. 

It seems a little difficult to imagine that the original direction of Blade was not already dark, considering it is about a half-human/half-vampire who has made it his life’s goal to exterminate the undead creatures that killed his mother. Hopefully, this new director and screenwriter will help Blade get there.