Mahershala Ali simply called Marvel and asked to be cast as Blade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kevin Feige made several big announcements during Marvel Studios’ panel at San Diego Comic-Con, but among the most exciting was that Blade was going to be introduced into the MCU, and that 2-time Oscar-winner Ali would be playing the iconic character.
The character Eric Stokes Brooks, a.k.a. Blade, was introduced in 1973 in the comic The Tomb of Dracula #10. Comic book readers will be familiar with the famous vampire hunter, but movie buffs should also know the character since he’s gotten a total of three movies. Three films starring Wesley Snipes were released by New Line Cinema between 1998 and 2004. For years it was thought that Snipes might return for Blade 4, especially since the actor even said he doesn’t want anybody else to play Blade. After the rights to the character reverted back to Marvel Studios, the chances of Snipes returning became even less likely, especially when the MCU had become so successful. It took over 10 years for Blade to be introduced to the MCU, but it apparently wasn’t that hard for Ali to get the role.
When THR reported Ali’s casting in Blade, they also found out that Ali actually called Marvel Studios to personally ask to play the character. When talking with THR, Feige explained, «When Marhershala calls, you answer» and revealed that Ali called the office shortly after he won his Academy Award for Green Book.
Ali has proven his acting ability by winning Oscars for films like Moonlight and the aforementioned Green Book, but the actor has also been apart of a few other superhero projects already. Ali appeared in Luke Cage as Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes for a total of six episodes in season 1. Despite the Netflix superhero shows technically being part of the MCU, the show’s characters never crossed paths with characters from the Marvel movies, and didn’t even reference the films. Ali also voiced Uncle Aaron (The Prowler) in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and played the villain Vector in Alita: Battle Angel, which was based on a Japanese Manga.
Ali has no doubt been a part of some notable projects in his career, but playing Blade will be the biggest role he’s had in a superhero movie by far. Fans were ecstatic when Ali was revealed to be playing Blade, but Feige was probably just as thrilled to snag the actor for the role. Getting somebody of Ali’s caliber for a superhero role will no doubt benefit Marvel, and now that the role is cast, fans just want to know when Blade will hit theaters.