Following Blade's Director Exit, Mahershala Ali's Marvel Movie Has Hit Another Setback

The past several months have a number of upcoming Marvel movies take major steps forward, including WandaVision’s Matt Shakman becoming Fantastic Four’s director and Deadpool 3 bringing in Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine one more time. And then there’s the new Blade movie, which hit a bump in the road two weeks back in the form of director Bassam Tariq exiting the project. Well, sorry to those of you who are looking forward to the Mahershala Ali-led reboot, but there’s been another setback.

In the wake of Bassam Tariq dropping the Blade directorial reins, THR has learned that Marvel Studios has temporarily halted all “production-related activities” in Atlanta, Georgia on the The Daywalker’s Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. The plan was for Blade to begin shooting in November, but now the pause button has been pressed while the studio searches for a new filmmaker to fill Tariq’s shoes and carry out further development. The publication’s source said crew members were notified early Tuesday, and because of this decision, it’s unlikely that Blade will end up hitting its currently slotted November 3, 2023 release date.

Bassam Tariq’s departure from Blade was attributed by Marvel Studios to “continued shifts in our production schedule,” although he will remain attached as an executive producer. While some might have presumed that a replacement director would be tapped soon after, two weeks later, Marvel has decided to “slow down and deepen the search,” as well as take extra time to hash out other elements of Blade, with a source saying that “they really want to get this right.” This isn’t the first time that Blade’s production has needed to be shifted, although those prior occasions were due to script rewrites.

In 2019, 15 years after Wesley Snipes’ time as Blade ended with Blade: Trinity, it was announced at San Diego Comic-Con that Mahershala Ali would play the MCU’s incarnation of Eric Brooks, the dhampir (half-human/half-vampire) who spends his time slicing and dicing these bloodsuckers. While we’re still a ways off from seeing Ali as Blade, the actor did vocally cameo in Eternals’ post-credits scene when his character spoke to Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman offscreen. This is Ali’s third Marvel-related role, having previously played Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes in Luke Cage and Aaron Davis/The Prowler in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Beau du Mayo, whose credits include Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, The Witcher and Moon Knight, wrote the latest Blade draft. While Mahershala Ali is the only officially-confirmed cast member so far, it was reported in November 2021 that Da 5 Bloods’ Delroy Lindo had come aboard, and that was followed four months later by the reveal that Krypton’s Aaron Pierre would also be involved. It’s unclear if Blade’s latest production delay will prevent either of these actors from appearing, but considering that Ali was the one who approached Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige about playing Blade, clearly this is an important project for him.

CinemaBlend will continuing passing along updates on Blade’s progress, as well as let you know if its release date ends up changing. For now, you can pass the time by watching the Marvel movies in order or reading our coverage on other MCU installments.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.