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Marvel’s ‘Blade’ with Mahershala Ali on Hold Until Early 2023 as Director Search Continues

Slated helmer Bassam Tariq exited the project September 28, pushing production back now to early 2023.

US actor Mahershala Ali poses on the red carpet upon arrival at the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London on February 10, 2019. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Mahershala Ali

AFP via Getty Images

Marvel is honing in on the “Blade” production.

After director Bassam Tariq exited the film September 28, two months ahead of production, the “Blade” crew members were notified that the project is on pause. Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali stars as the vampire superhero, with “Moon Knight” scribe Beau DeMayo penning the script.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported that Marvel temporarily shut down all production-related activities in Atlanta, where the project was slated to start filming in November. The film still does not yet have a director attached. Production is expected to resume in early 2023.

“Blade” currently has a release date of November 3, 2023, which is expected to be delayed due to the production shake-up.

“They want to really get it right,” an unnamed source told THR.

“Blade” was announced by Marvel at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed that “Moonlight” and “Green Book” Academy Award winner Ali had personally called him to pitch a reboot of the iconic character, originally brought to the screen by Wesley Snipes in 1998 film “Blade,” followed by “Blade II” and “Blade: Trinity.”

The Marvel character is based on the comics by Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan. Lead star Ali hand-picked “PEN15” Emmy nominee Stacy Osei-Kuffour to pen the script; Osei-Kuffour eventually left the project, with DeMayo leading script rewrites. Osei-Kuffour was Marvel’s first Black female writer on a feature film.

Per THR at the time, “only Black writers were seriously considered, a reflection of Marvel’s focus on diversity and making representation a key factor — especially when tackling non-white characters.”

Director Tariq previously told IndieWire that “a Black man created the superhero world that we’re in, that’s just the truth” and he was “so honored” to work with both Ali and Osei-Kuffour to bring the revamped story to life.

After exiting the project, the “Mogul Mowgli” director said in a press statement, “It’s been an honor working with the wonderful folks at Marvel. We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film.”

Marvel added, “Due to continued shifts in our production schedule, Bassam is no longer moving forward as director of ‘Blade’ but will remain an executive producer on the film. We appreciate Bassam’s talent and all the work he’s done getting ‘Blade’ to where it is.”

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