Things The MCU's Blade Needs To Get Right About The Character

Despite never achieving quite the same amount of mainstream recognition as other Marvel Comics characters like Wolverine, the Hulk, or Spider-Man, Eric Cross Brooks — better known as Blade — has had a long history in comic books, having been around for half a century. The character first appeared in "The Tomb of Dracula" #10 in 1973, and was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan. A lifelong vampire hunter, Blade is an expert hand-to-hand combatant and is armed with a wide array of dangerous weapons. Because he is half-vampire, he's immune to vampire bites, making him even more of a threat to these vicious creatures of the night.

Blade became even more popular with the release of his own film in 1998, which was a big enough hit to warrant two sequels. He was portrayed by Wesley Snipes, and while the films arguably don't hold up too well today, Snipes' slick performance is a standout and helped renew interest in the comic book source material. "Blade" helped create the superhero movie world that dominates the pop culture landscape. Shortly after its release, other Marvel Comics characters — the X-Men, Spider-Man, and more — got their own movies, which achieved more success. Now that Marvel Studios has regained the rights to "Blade" and is working on a new cinematic version of the character to be played by Academy Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali, we have the chance to see Blade done right on the big screen. As long as Marvel Studios sticks to the following guidelines, of course.

Give Blade a small-stakes story

Because of his position as a vampire hunter in the comics, Blade has rarely taken on the sort of world-ending threats as the Avengers or the X-Men, typically sticking to missions much closer to the ground. There have been a few exceptions to this, of course. For example, during his early-1990s revival, he joined the Midnight Sons alongside Doctor Strange, Morbius, Ghost Rider, and others to take on the incredibly powerful immortal demon goddess and sorceress Lilith. Blade also teamed up with the X-Men during the "Curse of the Mutants" crossover, which saw Dracula's son Xarus set out to establish vampires as the dominant species on Earth. However, these sorts of conflicts are largely out of Blade's wheelhouse.

If the powers that be at Marvel Studios are smart, they'll stick to the formula established in the comics and give Blade a mission that doesn't involve reality as we know it being threatened by a godlike megalomaniac. At least at first; I have no problems seeing a movie that involves, say, the Avengers calling on Blade's unique skillset to take down a massive villain, but that sort of plot should wait. Not only should Blade refrain from joining in on the battle to save the galaxy, but he should also actively avoid those kinds of conflicts so he can take on the enemies that live in the shadows. Besides, a more intimate story means more room to flesh out the complexities of the character.

Focus on Blade's unique fighting skills

One of the things that separate Blade from his more superpowered contemporaries in the comics is his general lack of superpowers; other than being half-vampire, he doesn't have much in the way of enhanced abilities. However, that doesn't mean he's not dangerous, as he is a master martial artist and weapons expert. In the "Tomb of Dracula" series from the 1970s, Blade mostly hunted down vampires with little more than some wooden stakes for heart-impaling and his gifts as a fighter. However, over the years, he's upgraded his arsenal with more high-tech gadgets, including specialized stabbing weapons, various firearms, flamethrowers, grappling hooks, and even silver-based armaments for the occasional werewolf encounter.

The original "Blade" trilogy largely stuck to this formula, and Marvel Studios would be wise to follow suit. A little physical enhancement is fine, as Blade's vampiric physiology gives him an accelerated healing factor and a boost in durability and strength. However, the MCU version of the character shouldn't overdo it and instead focus on his more human qualities. He can't fly, shoot lasers out of his eyes, or punch a hole through a mountain; his fighting style is more up close and personal, which means Mahershala Ali should undergo some serious martial arts training to bring Blade's signature fighting style to the big screen. Glossy CGI battles and chases simply won't be enough to do this character justice — give us kicks, punches, and lots and lots of stabbing.

Don't connect him to the wider MCU – just yet

As stated earlier, Blade has largely stuck to his own spooky corner of the Marvel Comics universe, rarely interacting with the big guns. During his 1970s adventures in "The Tomb of Dracula," he would sometimes team up with other vampire hunters like Quincy Harker and Rachel van Helsing, but because of his distrusting personality, he would always return to his life of killing bloodsuckers as a solo act. In the early 1990s, Blade appeared in a team series, "Nightstalkers," along with Frank Drake and Hannibal King, to take on supernatural threats. Though the team was put together by Doctor Strange (who still wasn't even a well-known character like he is today), Blade and the others were generally confined to the occult side of the Marvel Comics universe, which only occasionally featured more famous characters.

The comic book version of Blade mostly sticks to the shadows, and that's a big part of what makes him such a singular character. His Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart should retain as much of that outcast quality as possible; having him interact with, say, the Hulk or Star-Lord so early into his time on the big screen would arguably undermine his mystique. While it's inevitable that he'll interact with the MCU's A-listers at some point down the line, Marvel Studios would do well to build out the creepy world that Blade operates in before he has a superpowered smackdown with Ant-Man or Captain Marvel.

Keep Blade's backstory in the dark

Before he was Blade, he was Eric Cross Brooks, a boy born to a mother named Tara Vanessa Cross-Brooks and a father named Lucas Cross, who, because of a false allegation, was sent to prison in Latveria (which us True Believers know as the home of Doctor Doom). When Tara was going into labor, she was assisted by a vampire named Deacon Frost, who was disguised as a doctor; he killed her just before she gave birth to Eric, resulting in him absorbing some of Frost's blood and inheriting some vampiric characteristics. When Eric was still quite young, he stumbled upon Jamal Afari, who was being attacked by vampires; he helped the older man, who then taught him how to become a vampire hunter, solidifying his destiny.

It's a fascinating backstory, but it's one that should only be hinted at in Blade's Marvel Cinematic Debut. One of the reasons for this is that the MCU has enough origin stories, and while showing the characters' backstories gives us insight into how they became who they are, we've seen so many of them now that it's starting to get repetitive. Also, because Blade is such a mysterious character, we shouldn't be given more than a few hints about what led to him becoming a vampire hunter. The occasional flashback or brief exposition is more than enough to get the gist of his history, but any more than that, and his mystique will be ruined.

Give Blade a clearly defined motive and characterization

Blade has had a fascinating evolution as a character in his decades of existence. As a young man, he was trained to become a master fighter and an expert with handheld weaponry, and began hunting down vampires. However, he let his skills and first victories get to his head, so by the time he encountered the incredibly powerful vampire Lamia, he barely managed to hold his own against her, prompting him to become an even more dangerous hunter. However, it was when his first lover, Glory Anah, was turned into a vampire that his quest to hunt vampires became truly personal for him. Blade became a hardened loner with a singular focus. But despite his tough demeanor, he's not without compassion, generally displayed when having to perform mercy killings of those who've been turned into bloodsuckers.

Who would've thought that a vampire hunter could be so complex? Wesley Snipes played a pretty slick version of the character in his films, but he was arguably one-dimensional. With the extremely talented Mahershala Ali filling out Blade's leather outfit, wooden-stake bandolier, and cool shades, Marvel Studios has the perfect opportunity to turn the character into someone with plenty of depth. An outcast who only works with others when he has to. An adept combatant who sometimes gets his butt handed to him when he gets cocky. A coldhearted killer with a rare show of kindness. There's quite a lot to do with Blade.

Blade needs truly terrifying villains

As a vampire hunter, Blade has duked it out with some pretty horrific nemeses. One of the enemies he's battled the most is Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed Blade's mother and gave him vampiric abilities. Before he was a vampire, however, Frost was a human scientist whose quest for immortality led to him experimenting on a bloodsucker, ultimately leading to him becoming a creature of the night himself. In addition to gaining the usual strengths and weaknesses of other vampires, Frost was also given the unique ability to turn his victims into clones of himself that he could control with his mind. Some other morbid malefactors that Blade has fought include the Darkholders (an ancient black magic cult that worships the Elder God Chthon) and Dracula.

We got a good dose of horror in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," but Blade's first MCU outing really needs to up the scare factor. Morbius was unfortunately given a watered-down treatment in his Sony Pictures film, so hopefully, Marvel Studios can avoid that mistake by pitting Blade against some genuinely frightening antagonists. Give us barely-human entities with pale faces, blood-dripping fangs, unblinking eyes, and a plethora of gruesome powers, and fans will have the "Blade" film they've always wanted. Of course, in order for them to pull this off, they should skip Marvel's usual PG-13 rating and jump right into R-rated territory.

Use Blade to bring in Marvel's version of Dracula

That's right, Bram Stoker's gothic creation has a Marvel Comics counterpart, and was even given his own series, "The Tomb of Dracula," which debuted in 1972. While the series initially took place in a continuity separate from the rest of the mainstream Earth-616 universe, he eventually started bumping into popular characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men. Of course, his most famous adversary is Blade. The two became bitter enemies when Dracula bit Blade's mentor Jamal Afari and turned him into a vampire, prompting Blade to kill Afari to spare him a life of killing innocent people for their blood. Blade even teamed up with some characters from Dracula's mythos, including Jonathan Harker's son Quincy Harker, Abraham Van Helsing's great-granddaughter Rachel van Helsing, and Dracula's last living mortal descendent, Frank Drake.

I know, I know — we've had a million versions of Dracula on the big screen already, and we're going to have a million more. Still, wouldn't it be cool to see what Marvel Studios does with him? It may seem odd for a company that has its own stable of characters at its disposal to dip into existing mythologies, but Thor isn't an original Marvel Comics creation, and look how popular he is with general audiences. Marvel Studios has been slowly building out the horror side of its universe, as seen in the "Werewolf By Night" Disney+ special, so why not bring in one of the original silver screen monsters?

He should be a globetrotting antihero

There's something almost James Bond-like about Blade, in that his adventures often take him around the world. Blade was born in the Soho area of London, England, and it was there that he hunted down his first vampires, demonic entities, and other supernatural creatures. One of Blade's earliest quests saw him tracking down Dracula across Europe and Asia, always getting close to killing him once and for all, but never managing to put him down. For a time, Blade was a member of Ogun Strong's team of vampire hunters based in China before they were all killed by Dracula. Blade spent time in Boston when he was with Borderline Investigations, Inc. (also known as the Nightstalkers), and he teamed up with the X-Men in San Francisco to take down a new vampire threat in the "Curse of the Mutants" storyline.

The point is, vampires don't follow the rules of jurisdiction that govern us mere mortals, and neither should the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Blade. Kevin Feige and Co. would do well to make his first real outing a world-spanning adventure that takes him to ancient and forbidden locales à la the "Indiana Jones" films. As a more grounded character, it just doesn't make sense to send Blade into the multiverse or into space, at least right off the bat. From big cities to forgotten ruins to labyrinthine jungles, there are so many cool spots to send Blade to as he hunts down the creatures of the night.

Have him team up with other supernatural heroes

Blade is quite paradoxical; like Wolverine, he's a character who, despite being fervently against working with others, often ends up joining a team. Throughout his time in the comics, Blade has joined forces with numerous heroes and fellow vampire hunters. Some of the earliest people he called teammates were Quincy Harker, Rachel van Helsing, Frank Drake, and Taj Nital, with whom he's had an on-again, off-again relationship. Then there were the Nightstalkers put together by Doctor Strange, and saw Blade team up with fellow occult experts Frank Drake and Hannibal King. And let's not forget about his stint with the Midnight Sons, who counted among its ranks Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze (both men who have held the title of Ghost Rider) and Morbius.

While Blade did join a version of the Avengers for a time in the comics, he's a character that fits more comfortably among other supernatural heroes. No doubt his brief stint with Earth's Mightiest Heroes will mean that he'll join them up on the big screen at some point, but hopefully, we'll see Blade partner with such characters as Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange, Werewolf by Night, or Man-Thing before that happens. The team-ups that we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far have focused on massive, even galactic, threats; let's see Blade and similarly-styled heroes enter into a reluctant alliance to take down some monsters in a castle somewhere.