Marvel Studios' Blade movie is in serious trouble, with multiple reports suggesting development has stalled two months before filming begins.
The Marvel Phase 5 project, which is currently slated to release in theaters in November 2023, was set to enter full production shortly. However, Blade is in danger of missing its launch date altogether after director Bassam Tariq left the superhero flick just two months before shooting was due to start, according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
In a statement provided to THR, Marvel said "continued shifts in our production schedule" was a major reason behind Tariq's departure. The Mogul Mowgli director is, however, still expected to be credited as an executive producer for the work he's conducted on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie so far.
Speaking to THR, Tariq and Marvel thanked each other for putting in the hard yards. It seems, then, that the studio and director have parted on good terms. MCU insider BigScreenLeaks has speculated that Marvel has some big names lined up to succeed Tariq, while Grace Randolph suggested Marvel is looking at individuals including Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods, Malcolm X), Gina prince-Blythwood (The Woman King), and Ms Marvel and Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Billal Fallah, as potential candidates.
I’m told that the current BLADE script is roughly 90 pages and features exactly TWO (lackluster) action sequences. Mahershala said to be very frustrated with the process. Feige said to be spread too thin. But hey, that’s just what sources are telling me. Don’t shoot the messengerSeptember 28, 2022
Tariq's departure is less than ideal, but it isn't the only dilemma that's given Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige a major headache.
According to industry insider Jeff Sneider, Blade's script is not in a good place. The Ankler reporter has claimed that the movie's screenplay is just 90 pages long and contains two lackluster action sequences.
Per Murphy's Multiverse, Beau DeMayo, whose previous credits include Netflix's TV adaptation of The Witcher, has been drafted in to rewrite the script. DeMayo has also penned scripts for Moon Knight on Disney Plus, as well as Marvel's forthcoming X-Men 97 animated series, so the film should be in good hands if he's involved. It's unclear if former scribe Stacey Osei-Kuffour is still on board with DeMayo being drafted in to spruce up the script.
Additionally, BigScreenLeaks and The Cosmic Circus' Lizzie Hill have claimed that Blade won't enter full production until January 2023 – just 10 months before it's supposed to be released. Meanwhile, a casting call put out by Angela Boehm Casting (thanks to Reddit for the find) states that filming won't begin until spring 2023, which could be any time between March and June. Not ideal preparation for a tentpole movie.
Given all of the above, it's unsurprising to learn that lead star Mahershala Ali is believed to be extremely frustrated over the new delays. The latest round of production hiccups come three months after we reported that Blade's production date had been pushed from July 2022 to October 2022. Sounds like the Marvel film is lacking some bite in many areas.
We've reached out to Disney and Marvel for comment on Osei-Kuffour's involvement moving forward, as well as the movie's expected filming start date. We'll update this article if we hear back.
Analysis: receiving the good news alongside the bad
Given the speculation surrounding Blade's production issues, it wasn't overly surprising to see some good news drop on the same day in the form of a Deadpool 3 update.
We already knew the Merc with a Mouth's MCU debut was on the way, with Kevin Feige confirming Deadpool would join Marvel's cinematic juggernaut back in January 2021. We've received a few important updates since, with lead actor Ryan Reynolds seen preparing for the physically-demanding role, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick updating fans on how the script is progressing.
The biggest update, though, came via Reynolds yesterday (Tuesday, September 27), with the Canadian actor revealing Hugh Jackman will reprise his role as Wolverine in Deadpool 3. Oh, and that the R-rated movie would arrive in theaters in September 2024.
Okay, that launch date is two years away, but it wouldn't be surprising if production on Deadpool 3 starts earlier than expected – or might even get its theatrical release moved up again.
As Marvel's statement to THR revealed, the studio's production schedule is forever shifting. If Blade's release date is pushed back in order to give it more time to be completed, the rest of Marvel's Phase 5 slate (and its first Phase 6 film, if that's where Deadpool 3 fits into proceedings) could be altered. That could mean Captain America: New World Order, Thunderbolts, and Deadpool 3 arriving in cinemas earlier than we thought.
Marvel has previous form for this kind of thing, with the studio swapping Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's and The Marvels' 2023 release dates. Ant-Man 3 was further along the production pipeline than its Phase 5 sibling, hence the duo trading launch dates. So, if Blade isn't shooting until next spring, the likes of Cap 4 and Deadpool 3 might start filming earlier. If that ends up being the case, expect Marvel to announce any release date changes in the near future.
For more MCU-based content, check out our Marvel movies in order guide. Alternatively, read up on everything you need to know about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, or enjoy our breakdown of every She-Hulk post-credits scene so far.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.
Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.
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