Wesley Snipes is BLADE! Period.
Wesley Snipes. The name is synonymous with action, charisma and a kind of winning smile we don’t see much anymore. His issues on and off the set have led to a career outside of the spotlight but he will always be remembered for classic roles in such movies as White Men Can’t Jump, Demolition Man and of course Blade.
His turn as Blade, a half-human/half-vampire anti-hero, became the stuff of legend. I can still recall waiting in a massive line during the first weekend of Blade 2. It was an event. And this was all before the superhero wave of the early 2000s.
After the disappointing third film and the forgotten television series the character disappeared into the shadows from whence he came. Rumors persisted though. The new Marvel Cinematic Universe was rife with bigger stars and more impacting story lines. And the call for the return of Blade began quietly but grew throughout each phase. Wesley Snipes creating waves of excitement with hints of meetings at Marvel.
Mahershala Ali Gets His Turn
From there the demand only grew, reaching critical mass at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con when Mahershala Ali was announced as the new Blade. The two-time Oscar winner had pursued the role himself and the reaction was uproariously positive. Even Wesley Snipes gave his endorsement of the move.
How will Ali rank against Snipes? We’ll have to wait for that answer but we can all certainly agree that Ali has some big vampire hunting shoes to fill. Prior to Blade Snipes was coming off films like Murder at 1600 and Money Train. He was a star and after a failed attempt to get a Black Panther movie made he turned his sights towards Blade. A minor character from the comic book Tomb of Dracula, a discontinued horror book that was, at the time, a leftover for niche collectors.
Wesley Snipes as the Original Blade
It didn’t matter though. The hunt was on, so to speak, for Snipes and in 1998 Blade, a modern, slick, take no prisoners, one-liner spewing vampire killer was born. Snipes took the name from the comic but almost everything else was born out of the movie.
Snipes didn’t just make Blade a character, he made Blade an icon.
He brought charisma to a character that had no right to have any. An anti-social hermit whose only interest in life is killing vampires could have easily been a dull, empty hero but Snipes gave him a wry, dark sense of humor and an impressive physicality that included sword work, martial arts and a wide array of wrestling moves. Something I can only imagine came from Snipes.
The Aftermath of Blade: Trinity (2004)
The third film ended up being remembered more for Snipes’ bad attitude and behavior than for its merits (of which there aren’t many). And with that the franchise died but like any good vampire it wasn’t completely dead as the announcement at Comic-Con proved.
Without Snipes, without his talent and charm we would never have known about the potential of Blade nor demanded to see the character again. Will he always remain the best version of the character? Will he be the Christopher Reeves of vampire hunters? Will there be a countless string of actors attempting to top his performance or will Ali quickly overtake him? I’ll certainly be rooting for Mahershala but I’ll never forget the glory of Snipes, the way he caught a pair of sunglasses in the air or his infamous line because no matter what “some motherf**ckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.”