Marvel Studios' Blade may not make its rumored 2023 release date, according to a new report.
Per The Cosmic Circus, which has form for revealing information about Marvel movies and TV shows ahead of schedule, the vampiric anti-hero's Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) debut might not be ready in time to launch in 2023. That's down to a delay in the superhero film officially entering production, with filming not expected to begin until October 2022.
A listing on the Production List website previously suggested that principal photography would start on July 4, with Atlanta (a prominent Marvel Studios filming location) and New Orleans used as stand-ins for Blade's gritty world. Now, though, The Cosmic Circus claims that work won't begin until Fall 2022 (that's Autumn for non-US folk), though the superhero fansite doesn't offer a definitive reason behind the supposed delay.
The Cosmic Circus suggests that script or movie scheduling issues may be behind the move, although key Blade stars – lead actor Mahershala Ali, plus The Underground Railroad's Aaron Pierre – are currently filming separate projects for Netflix. Ali will star in a movie adaptation of Leave the World Behind, while Pierre is set to star in action-thriller Rebel Ridge. It's more likely, then, that Marvel has put a pin in Blade's production until the actors are readily available.
Regardless of the reason, the upcoming MCU project isn't likely to meet its supposed 2023 release date. Many fans expected that Blade would be part of Marvel's Phase 4 slate and, with no Marvel movie penciled in for late 2022 just yet, Blade would have been the perfect film to slot into late October – i.e. just in time for a Halloween release. However, this apparent delay may mean it's pushed back into the studio's Phase 5 line-up (more on this in a moment) instead.
Still, we won't be short of MCU content in 2023. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, and The Marvels are all slated to launch in theaters next year. Meanwhile, on the Marvel TV show front, you can expect the likes of Secret Invasion, Loki season 2, and Ironheart to arrive on Disney Plus.
For more Marvel-based content, find out why Thor: Love and Thunder may not be Chris Hemsworth's final outing as the god of thunder.
Analysis: could Blade head up Marvel's Phase 5 slate?
If you believe the rumors surrounding Blade's delayed production, it's certainly possible. After all, Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has alluded to the fact that Phase 4 is working towards its conclusion.
Speaking to Total Film, Feige confirmed that Marvel was "nearing the end of Phase 4", and that the studio has already laid the groundwork for where Phase 5, plus the MCU's next Infinity Saga-style event, will go. Given that much of Marvel's Phase 4 slate has centered around the concept of the multiverse, variants of superheroes/supervillains, and incursion events, it's pretty evident that the multiverse will continue to be the primary focus of Phase 5 and beyond.
With Marvel Studios set to hold a panel in Hall H at this year's Comic-Con, as well as take center stage at D23 Expo later in 2022, we'll learn more about its plans for Phase 5 movies and Disney Plus shows. And, in our view, both of those presentations will include more details about its Blade reboot, which could end up being the first MCU movie in Marvel's Phase 5 line-up.
As we mentioned earlier, Marvel has already mapped out its 2023 movie slate. Meanwhile, there are four MCU TV series, including Echo and the trio we listed above, in the works. If filming on those seven projects is completed before the end of 2022, we'd expect them to not only be released next year, but to also bring the curtain down on Phase 4.
If we're right, that means Blade might the first MCU Phase 5 project. As long as The Cosmic Circus is correct in its assumptions about an October start date, principal photography on Blade could be completed by early to mid-2023. Add in what will likely be a lengthy post-production cycle, and Blade could launch in cinemas by 2024 – thus kicking off Phase 5 in the process. That is, unless Marvel is dead set on including Blade as part of its Phase 4 plans.
Hopefully, we'll find out more when Marvel take to the stage at Comic-Con and D23 Expo. In our opinion, though, an anti-hero as iconic as Blade would be the perfect way to kickstart Marvel's Phase 5 slate. If Marvel is prepared to install it as the first movie of its next phase, we wouldn't be averse to such a move.