From what we all have come to see, the MCU is yet to establish its stronghold over explicit horror. “Moon Knight” established the arrival of the supernatural. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” also had a drop or two of MCU horror besides having supernatural elements, among other things. “Werewolf by Night,” although belonging to the horror genre, didn’t claim it as much as it paid tribute to the classic horror films. So, frankly speaking, Blade can either make it or break it for the MCU as far as horror is concerned because the stakes are automatically high, especially since the previous Blade films have set the bar high.
Frankly speaking, it was indeed “Blade” that brought forth the re-emergence of superhero films as we know them today. The first “Blade” film came out in 1998, four years before Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” (2002). In it, Wesley Snipes more than did justice to the character of the daywalker. While the second one was decent and the third one not really appreciated, the three films are very gory with an ample amount of dread in them, if not horror. Either way, the darkness was palpable, which is a lot more than we can say for the MCU.
The advent of “Moon Knight” in the MCU ushered in the era of the supernatural, no doubt. The show, even though it didn’t have as much of “Moon Knight” as it did Marc Spector or Steven Grant, was able to highlight how it was different in its nature from previous MCU shows and how it would pave the way for something hitherto unexplored in the MCU. What’s surprising is that, compared to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Moon Knight” does a better job of exploring the supernatural quite literally. The grandeur of the Egyptian gods is far more pronounced than that of the vast multiverse, as depicted in “Doctor Strange 2.” It seems that MCU is rather bent on the exploration of the unknown and using it as a horror motif than going for outright horror. With Blade, things will have to change, or fans will be disappointed, much like many of us were with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” If Marvel wants to introduce Blade the way he should be introduced, the production giant will have to let go of its apprehensions regarding R-rated content. It is high time.
Jason Blum, founder & CEO of Blumhouse Productions (“Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” “The Purge,” “Oculus,” and “Sinister”), has stated that it isn’t easy to pull off horror on a big budget, but if anyone can do it, it’s Marvel. Marvel needs to take this seriously if it wants to add horror to its genres. It will have to allow director Yann Demange a creative freedom that he has already proven he has the right to with the zombie horror miniseries “Dead Set.” Also, visuals will play a huge part, which is yet another area where Marvel has faced heavy backlash recently. With visual effects becoming a cliche and the re-emergence of practical effects, Blade will put a lot of Marvel’s strengths to the test.
More than anything else, Blade will have to come up with a new way to show vampirism. Bloody businesses, lineage, and rising from the dead are all concepts that have been covered time and again in films. It should try to base itself on the mold that Sony made with “Morbius,” which did have a dark vibe to it, and then work on it further. Fun fact: a deleted scene from 1998’s Blade does show a glimpse of Morbius. Unfortunately, Marvel couldn’t use it in the film because it didn’t own the character. Mahershala Ali is no doubt a great pick for the role, but it is up to the creators to ensure that they don’t misuse such a great talent.
All that being said, Marvel is capable of pulling off dark stuff, as we have seen with “Daredevil” and “The Punisher.” So, if it does decide to really go all in, it can. Both shows have jumped platforms from Netflix to Disney Plus. This is a sign that Marvel Studios is spreading its wings to incorporate mature content and upping its game. While Daredevil’s intro in “She-Hulk” didn’t reveal much about the production giant’s take on the character, it will do well to not sanitize the character unduly. You can remove the blood, but you better not touch the gore. The same goes for the Punisher. Such characters have a dark past, and one should honor them by giving them a present and future that are equally heavy and moving. Wesley Snipes’s rendition of the character and its reception is still palpable and worth watching again. So, while Marvel wouldn’t repeat what’s happened before, it should learn from the past. Let’s hope that we get a worthy Blade who gives us a taste of blood, unlike anything we have tasted before.