Director Bassam Tariq has parted ways with Blade, as confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter. The film, anticipated for a November 2023 release, has already been delayed at least once, per THR. Most recently, it was expected to begin production this fall, though it is uncertain if this will change following this new development.
“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,” Marvel Studios says in a statement provided to THR. “We appreciate Bassam’s talent and all the work he’s done getting Blade to where it is.”
The director also issued his own comment, though the scheduling conflict has not been clarified. “It’s been an honor working with the wonderful folks at Marvel,” Tariq says. “We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film.”
Blade stars Mahershala Ali as the title character, a vampire-human hybrid who has devoted himself to hunting vampires. The role was made famous in live action by a trio of Wesley Snipes movies released between 1998 and 2004, before the establishment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ali, who made his debut as Blade through a voice cameo in Eternals, approached Marvel Studios about the role himself following his second Oscar win for Green Book in 2019. Blade has become one of the most anticipated entries in the MCU since its announcement in 2019, and comics fans are hoping for an adaptation of the supernaturally-powered team the Midnight Sons, which would potentially also include characters like Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, Elsa Bloodstone, and Werewolf By Night.
THR doesn’t provide any hints as to who might pick up the reins from Tariq, but reports that the script has also been a work in progress. Watchmen’s Stacy Osei-Kuffour penned the initial version, followed by Moon Knight writer Beau DeMayo signing on. According to The Ankler’s Jeff Sneider, the script currently lacks the blockbuster action that the franchise is known for, containing “exactly TWO (lackluster) action sequences.”
Tariq made his feature debut in 2020 with Mogul Mowgli, an intimate drama starring Riz Ahmed as an up-and-coming rapper whose tour is derailed by a sudden illness. Though Spider-Man veteran Sam Raimi joined the fold with Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, many recent MCU directors have been brought on after establishing themselves with much lower-key fare, such as Nia DaCosta, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Taika Waititi.