Blade Director Bassam Tariq On Bringing The Character Into The MCU: 'There Is No Blade Canon'

Bassam Tariq, who helmed the new Riz Ahmed film "Mogul Mowgli," is set to bring Blade into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Mahershala Ali playing the daywalking half-human/half-vampire. In a recent interview, Tariq confirmed that yes, he's directing "Blade." He also provided some hints as to the film's approach to the character. Specifically, Tariq says that he's not too concerned with sticking to a specific canon, because the character doesn't really have a specific canon in the comics. Whether or not you agree with that, reader, is another matter.

Blade in the MCU

Word that Bassam Tariq would direct "Blade" broke back in July, and in case there was any lingering doubt, Tariq confirmed his involvement during an interview with The Playlist Podcast. "First of all, I can confirm that I am directing 'Blade.' Marvel is letting me do that. There might be, like, a Marvel sniper here somewhere pointing a gun at me or a redaction device or something," Tariq said, adding: 

"What I will say it's like, it's not that I felt it was, I didn't think that this was gonna happen. You know what I mean? Just to be very honest, I'm honored, and it's a privilege. I'm here in service of Staci Osei-Kuffour, who is the incredible writer that's writing the film. She wrote on Watchmen, she wrote also Pen15 and Power and The Morning Show, she's just a phenomenal presence and a juggernaut in her own right, and Mahershala. For me, it's really working in their service, and I think that's how I'm trying to take it day by day because, to think of anything more is tough."

Tariq also said that Marvel takes "big swings for a big studio," continuing: "I can't say anything about it, but I'm so excited about what we're doing, like I'm so excited ... and I can't wait."

"Blade" was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, and first appeared in the pages of "The Tomb of Dracula #10 " in July 1973. The character made his big-screen debut with the 1998 movie "Blade," starring Wesley Snipes and featuring a scene where vampires go to a rave and the sprinkler system rains blood down on them. That's cinema, baby. The Wesley Snipes "Blade" spawned two sequels, and there was talk off and on over the years of Snipes possibly returning to the role. Then, news of a new Blade movie was announced during the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, where it was revealed that Mahershala Ali would be taking over the role. So how will this new "Blade" differ from what came before? And will it stick to the source material? 

"We Care About Character"

Regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe approach to "Blade," Tariq said: "What I can tease about it is that we care about character, it's very important for me, and character is something that ... I don't think of genre, I think of character, and where our character has to go is gonna be really important." He also had some interesting comments in regard to how the film might approach the canon of the character: 

"What's so great is it's not as boxed in as I think people imagine it to be, which I thought it was. But it's quite exciting. And I think the reality is there no Blade canon. If you ever read the comics, they're always changing. "Oh it's this story, it's this story.' What's the canon? It's not like Peter Parker. His name is Peter Parker. In some comics, his name is Fred H. Blade, you know, instead of Eric Brooks. So it's an interesting thing. Unfortunately, the runs never lasted that long, and there have been some interesting and exciting waves. But I can say it's character first."

First: I didn't know the character's name in the comics is Fred H. Blade, and now I very much want them to keep that for this new movie, and change the title from "Blade" to "Fred H. Blade." Second: while I'm sure some folks might raise their eyebrows at the "there is no Blade canon," I think Tariq is saying all the right things here. Character first is the best way to approach this, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.