5 Lessons Blade Taught Studios About Superhero Movies (They Have Clearly Forgotten)

Since when was being rated R such a bad thing?

Daniel Frazier

Contributor

New Line Cinema, Marvel Entertainment

New Line Cinema, Marvel Entertainment

Gone are the days where heroes dressed in costume were considered camp and not a box office draw: the superhero movie is now one of the primary sources of blockbuster cinema entertainment, and of box office bucks. In the coming year alone, audiences around the world will see the release of another Spider-Man film, a second Captain America, a fifth film to bear the X-Men brand, and Marvel’s answer to Star Wars featuring a band of misfit adventurers in space, in Guardians Of The Galaxy.

And that’s not to mention 2015 with the first screen pairing of Superman and Batman (and Wonder Woman), Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas as two diminutive Ant-Men, a Fantastic Four reboot, a possible Venom movie, and the second Avengers film. That’s quite a lot to take in even for the most die-hard of comic book/superhero fans. So how did this surge of mainstream popularity begin?

Superheroes have sporadically been the stuff of blockbusters in the past. 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1989’s Batman are two standout examples. But none of these films led to the lasting popularity for capes and masks as moviegoers are experiencing today. Many trace this current trend back to two movies, X-Men and Spider-Man. As a modest success in 2000, X-Men proved super-powered characters in costumes could be accepted by audiences. Just two years later, Spider-Man achieved mega-blockbuster status. But there is another film that serves as the granddaddy of the modern superhero film and truly paved the way for the genre: Blade.

Based on a Marvel Comics character with roots in Hammer horror movies and 70’s Blacksploitation cinema, Blade was released in American theatres in the autumn of 1998 and caught the audiences who saw it completely by surprise. Director Stephen Norrington and writer David S. Goyer took the elements of the comic and crafted a taut, thrilling tale centred on a half human/half vampire stalker of the undead. With Wesley Snipes bringing a reserved but still-compelling performance to the character, film fans were treated to a horror/action hybrid that would lay the groundwork for the soon-to-explode popularity of superhero films. It is surprising then that many of the elements of Blade that made the film memorable have fallen by the wayside as the genre has continued with origin stories, reboots and cinema universe building.

The following are five elements of Blade that have been nearly forgotten. While some of these elements may appear in various superhero films since, it is the combination of the five that makes Blade stand out from its followers.