I really don’t think the original Blade, starring Wesley Snipes, gets nearly enough love or appreciation these days. For a movie that came out in 1998 (God, was it really that long ago?) the first movie still holds up surprisingly well today, and is probably even better than you remember it.
Because while yes, Blade is going to be rebooted in the MCU and will star the always great Mahershala Ali, I will always have a soft spot for the original Blade, especially since it was the balls to the wall, super violent, R-rated Marvel film that existed long before Deadpool was even a glint in any studio head’s eye. And if you haven’t seen the original Blade in quite some time, now’s the perfect time to get excited since it has a 4KHD release coming soon, and it’s also available to stream on Hulu. Oh, and here are some other places where you might find it. Minor spoilers up ahead for a movie that’s over 20 years old.
It’s An Origin Story Done Right
I typically hate origin stories since too much of the film is usually devoted to the hero learning to come to grips with their new powers. But Blade is all like, screw that, let’s just get to the cool stuff. So the movie starts off in 1967 with a pregnant woman who has a nasty bite on her neck and is on the way to the operating room. Unfortunately, she doesn’t make it (or so we think), and we see a bloody baby being held up by a doctor who we can assume is Blade because, duh, that’s the name of the movie, right?
But then, we’re immediately dropped into a rave scene where vampires are dancing to some bumping music (more on that in a few). The scene is intentionally chaotic, but then, it gets even more chaotic as sprinklers go off, showering blood on the dance floor! It’s a blood rave! I’ll never forget that moment when I saw it for the first time in the theater. I got goosebumps. Blade then comes in and kicks some vampire ass, and we learn about his background and weaknesses in bits and pieces throughout the film, which was the best approach since this was a character that not a lot of people knew much about back in 1998. The film works as an overall great film rather than just as a comic book movie, much to its credit.
The Music Is Amazing
Back to that rave scene. I remember actually seeing Blade for a birthday party (because apparently, movie theaters were still allowing 15-year-olds into Rated-R movies back then). My good friend, Valentina, was sitting next to me, and when that rave music came on, she turned her face to me and said, “Richard, this is awesome!” And it was. She bought the soundtrack as soon as we got out of the theater.
And the Blade soundtrack totally fits the movie. The music is tonally dark and pulse pounding and it really fits the action of the story. Most comic book movies tend to take more orchestral approaches to their films, which is fine but a little played out if you ask me. But Blade almost sounds like a Streets of Rage soundtrack sometimes with some of its techno influences. Plus, the actual CD is amazing, with tracks by Mystikal (remember him?), Gangstarr, and KRS-One. It sounds like no other Marvel soundtrack out there, and that’s a good thing.
The Violence Doesn’t Hold Back
Remember that one scene in Avengers: Endgame when Thor decapitated Thanos. Like most people, I was like, whoa, they actually went there? And it was quite surprising for a Marvel/Disney production. But how could I forget that Blade was slicing vampires heads off and then catching his sunglasses way back in 1998? Granted, Blade was a hard R, and was distributed by New Line Cinema, but still. Blade was badass.
In fact, upon re-watching it, I’m kind of surprised with how violent it is. Deadpool’s violence is often for tongue-in-cheek purposes. But Blade is super violent, not holding back in the slightest when it comes to its fight scenes and visceral finishers. Blade is definitely a movie made for the Mortal Kombat generation and it shows.
The Villain Is Actually Interesting
Remember the first Iron Man movie? It pretty much did everything right except, well, the villain. Iron Monger kind of sucked since he was pretty much a bigger, alternate version of Iron Man. In fact, a great majority of the MCU villains were pretty lame in the first 2 phases, with Loki being the one exception.
But Stephen Dorff’s version of Deacon Frost is a compelling counterpoint to Blade. He’s a young vampire who wants to make a name for himself by trying to start a war between humans and vampires. But since Frost is not a pure-blood vampire (much like Blade himself), he holds animosity toward pure-bloods and kills them for treating him like dirt. He also has a connection to Blade’s mother who turns out not to be dead at all since she was bitten by Frost. It’s these complex dynamics and more that make Deacon Frost one of the best pre-Magneto/Killmonger villains from the Marvel stable of characters.
It’s Actually Really Funny
And here’s the thing about Blade. You probably most remember it for Wesley Snipes kicking ass, but do you remember it for Wesley Snipes being hilarious? It’s true! Blade is actually a really funny movie if you watch it today. Take for example the Mister Crispy scene where Blade comes into a hospital to kick some ass, and cops shoot at him. Blade just looks at them and is all like, “Are you out of your damn mind?”
Or how about when Blade confronts that familiar pretending to be a cop who tries to assault Dr. Karen Jenson (Played by N’Bushe Wright). Blade sneaks up on him and starts destroying Dr. Jenson’s apartment, and she’s like, “Is all that necessary?” And then Blade calls the familiar a “hooker” for vampires. It’s just like, the whole movie is really funny, and you’ll laugh and pump your fist when you watch the movie, if you should decide to watch it again.
Honestly, Blade is probably my favorite Marvel movie outside of the MCU. It has a lot more personality than the X-Men flicks, and good God is the trilogy better than the terrible Fantastic Four movies. But what do you think? Have you seen the first Blade recently? Is it even better than you remember it? Sound off in the comments section below about what you think of the daywalker.