Sometimes, all it takes is an innocuous statement with only a slight connection to something like Marvel Studios’ Blade reboot to set the internet on fire. That’s exactly what head honcho Kevin Feige has done today, as remarks he made during a TCA panel have fans questioning now whether Mahershala Ali’s debut in the MCU will be as PG-13 as it currently sounds. The reaction, quite frankly, has fans in a (sometimes R-rated) state of distaste.
CinemaBlend was on hand for Feige’s big kinda/sorta bombshell, as we attended the TCA panel where he made a comment that caused a flurry of reactions online. While today did see other events occur, like the exact release date of projects like Loki, and an announcement that the hotly anticipated Moon Knight series should go into production in a month, the subject of more adult-themed content like Helstrom did come up. When asked if the defunct Hulu series’ addition to Disney’s Star platform could signal more forays into adult programming, Kevin Feige responded as follows:
I think we target everything we’re doing now for kids and adults. So I think your question is: more adult or R-rated. You know, other than Deadpool, which has already established itself as a certain genre and a certain rating that we’ve already said we would not mess with when we start working with Deadpool – which we have. Other than that, we’ve not ever encountered a story, or a storyline, or a character’s journey that a PG-13 or the tone or the ratings that we’ve been using up to this point has prevented us. We’ve never been held back by it. If we ever are, then certainly there could be a discussion to be had now that there are other outlets like Hulu, like Star. But that just hasn’t been the case yet. We’ve been able to tell all the kinds of stories we’ve wanted to with the tonality and the rating structure that we have now.
So what does this have to do with Blade? Well, Feige's "hasn't been the case yet" comment was called out by some fans who know that movie is in the works currently and have had hopes for an R-rating. Though Feige seems to be talking about previous projects -- and Deadpool -- you could naturally see where the upset and chagrin of Blade fans would begin to creep in, especially in the light of writer Stacey Osei-Kuffour’s hiring to write the film. With her credits including serving as the story editor on HBO’s Watchmen, you wouldn’t think that this sort of limitation would be visited upon an iconic Marvel character who deals with a lot of blood. In all honesty, the idea the property may not be R-rated at the end of the day is a concern, and as you’ll see with our first reaction, there is indeed a total lack of amusement.
One has to wonder what former Blade star Wesley Snipes would think about all of this. In reality, he’d probably say something diplomatic about how whatever serves the story is what should happen. But, if you wanted a response from his spicy Demolition Man character, Simon Phoenix, it’d probably go something like this:
Humor aside, the character of Blade is best known for fighting vampires, and dispatching them in pretty extreme fashions that go heavy on the red ink. Fans know this even if they haven’t read the comics, as the 1998 Blade film literally starts with a blood rave; just in case you were under the impression that the character earned the name from some culinary wizardry. You can see the evidence behind that very claim below:
To wrap it all up, we’ve got a Blade fan who has some pretty strong language to express their disapproval of a PG-13 rated entry in the legacy of this trailblazing character. Which, again, is totally on brand with Blade. If your franchise builds part of its brand of cool on a line like, “Some motherfucker's are always trying to ice skate uphill,” a PG-13 feels like it’s only going to be a problem and not a solution.
If you thought that Blade wasn’t going to come up after any sort of R-rated remarks involving the MCU, you might be skating up that hill yourself. Whatever the reality of the situation ends up being, we’re admittedly in the early phases of Mahershala Ali’s Daywalker coming to life on the big screen. So for now, we’ll keep a cautiously optimistic attitude, and await to hear further updates as they develop; especially if that leaked release date is somehow confirmed in the process.