In the late 1990s, Marvel Comics found itself in dire straits. The comic book industry was facing a downturn, and Marvel, one of its giants, was on the brink of bankruptcy. However, an unexpected hero emerged from the shadows…Wesley Snipes and the groundbreaking movie, Blade. This seemingly unconventional choice for a superhero film would go on to save Marvel Comics in more ways than one.
Marvel’s Struggles in the Late ’90s
Marvel Comics, once a powerhouse in the comic book industry, was facing financial turmoil in the late 1990s. The company was burdened with debt because of the on-going comic book crash, and its attempts to expand into other media were met with mixed success. Filing for bankruptcy was on the table. The future of Marvel Comics looked uncertain. They needed a breakthrough and thy needed it fast.
The Unlikely Choice: Blade
Amidst the uncertainty, Marvel took a bold step by greenlighting a film adaptation of Blade, a relatively obscure character from the Marvel Universe. With a roster including Spider-Man, Captain America, and The Hulk, the selection of Blade, a half-man, half-vampire vampire hunter who isn’t even considered a traditional superhero, was unconventional to say the least. But Marvel saw potential in bringing this character to the big screen. They also had the foresight the keep the comic’s mature themes and make it an R-Rated film. Another huge risk in and of itself.
Wesley Snipes: The Perfect Blade
To bring Blade to life, Marvel cast Wesley Snipes in the titular role. In 1998 Snipes was at the height of his action hero run thanks to his roles in Demolition Man, Passenger 57, etc. He brought intensity, authenticity, and that much needed cool factor to the character. He looked, sounded, and action’d the part. Snipe’s portrayal of Blade added a level of depth and sophistication that set the movie apart from traditional superhero films of the time.
Breaking Ground: The First Successful Marvel Movie
Blade, released in 1998, defied all expectations. It was a critical and commercial success, marking a turning point for Marvel. The film’s budget; $45 million and it’s total box office, a whopping $131.2 million. The film’s success paved the way for future superhero movies in general while also proving that lesser-known characters could resonate with audiences.
Expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Blade laid the groundwork for what would later become the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). While it may not have been an immediate connection, the success of Blade encouraged Marvel to explore other characters and properties, eventually leading to the interconnected universe that dominates the film industry today.
A Financial Lifeline
The success of Blade didn’t just save Marvel’s reputation; it injected much-needed funds into the company. The film generated a nearly $90 million profit. That financial boost provided by the film allowed Marvel to restructure its debt and set the stage for a remarkable comeback.
Legacy of Blade
Wesley Snipes and the first Blade movie left an enduring legacy in two arenas. The success of this film spawned two sequels and demonstrated that superhero movies could appeal to a broader audience, paving the way for subsequent Marvel, and even DC adaptations. Blade’s impact is felt even today, with a new generation of fans discovering and appreciating the character in the comics and his highly anticipated official entry into the MCU.
Post Credit Scene
Blade with Wesley Snipes at the helm, emerged as an unexpected savior for Marvel Comics in a time of crisis. The success of the film not only revitalized Marvel’s financial standing but also paved the way for the future of superhero cinema. Wesley Snipes and the first Blade movie proved that sometimes, the most unconventional choices lead to the most remarkable successes.
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Written by @TalentedMrFord