Mahershala Ali in Alita: Battle Angel

As Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe presses on, the massive film and TV franchise continues to add new characters. Fan-favorite vampire hunter Blade is one of the major players fans will be able to see in the coming years, and the prospect of the character making his big-screen return is exciting. While Mahershala Ali has been cast in the lead role, news of developments behind the scenes of the project have been few and far between. But now, the film appears to have taken a massive step forward, as it’s reportedly hired a director to take the reins. So with that, let’s bring on the blood!

Marvel Studios has reportedly tapped Bassam Tariq to direct Blade. Deadline reports that before Tariq was tapped, Mahershala Ali and studio head Kevin Feige had been interviewing candidates since last fall. Per the trade, Tariq’s hiring isn’t a done deal just yet and, as expected, Marvel has not commented on the matter.

Bassam Tariq is best known for his work on Mogul Mowgli, a critically acclaimed indie drama starring Riz Ahmed that was released last year in the United Kingdom but has yet to be distributed in North America. To some, this may seem like an unexpected hiring choice, but it actually lines up with what we know about the studio. Marvel has a knack for tapping indie filmmakers for its blockbusters, and this practice has proven to be quite successful. One need only look to Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler, Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi, or all of the work done by Joe and Anthony Russo for the franchise. None of them had prior experience making movies carrying $100 million-plus budgets, but the executives and filmmakers behind the world's most popular comic book movies respectively recognized their special storytelling abilities. The results have been consistently excellent, and it will be wonderful to discover precisely what it is in Tariq that excites the studio – particularly for an excellent character like Blade.

It was during the Marvel Studios panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that Marvel Studios shocked the world by not only announcing that a Blade reboot was in the works, but that Mahershala Ali had already been cast as the titular vampire-hunting Daywalker. With many other projects in development, the project hasn't made many waves since then, but we did learn back in February of this year that Watchmen's Stacy Osei-Kuffour has come aboard to pen the screenplay. We don't currently have any details about the plot of the developing film, or who the central antagonist will be (though we have come up with a few suggestions).

Obviously being in talks with a director to come aboard is a huge step forward for Blade, and it's a sign that Marvel Studios is getting more focused on making the film a reality – but sadly what we don't have right now is a timetable for the movie. While a a whole bunch of new release dates were announced at the end of last year during the Walt Disney Company's Investor Day, one project that didn't get one is the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first vampire feature. Because we don't know when it will be coming out, it's a bit tricky to predict when we can expect it to go into production. Fans will have to demonstrate some more patience as we continue to wait for more new information, but for now you can scope out everything that is on the way from the franchise by heading over to our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide.

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