10 Reasons Why The Blade Movies Still Matter
Wesley Snipes' Marvel comic book adaptation changed the game.
This summer marks a full two decades since Wesley Snipes first took to the screen head to toe in black leather with sword in hand as the super-powered vampire hunter Blade - and blockbuster cinema hasn't been the same since.
Not that the Blade movies were, by modern standards, bona fide blockbusters. Produced on comparatively mid-range budgets ($45-$65 million), the R-rated trilogy saw global box office returns totalling $415 million; less than a single studio tent pole movie is typically expected to make in order to be declared a hit today.
However, it's debatable as to whether many of the biggest box office hits of the last 20 years would have happened at all, had Blade not laid the groundwork for them.
One major upcoming movie whose roots can be traced back to Blade is The Black Panther. Back in the mid-1990s, way before Chadwick Boseman landed the role of Wakanda's sovereign protector, actor and producer Snipes had a Black Panther movie in development.
Who knows how that would have turned out, had the project gained momentum - but there's no question that the other Marvel Comics character Snipes brought to the screen had a very significant impact.
So just how did the Blade movies change the game, you ask? Well, let's break it down for you now...
10. It Was The First Marvel Movie Franchise
This may be hard to imagine, especially for younger readers, but... there was a time when Marvel movies were not a thing. Almost inconceivable, we know, but it's the truth.
Indeed, by the late 1990s, Marvel Entertainment was in bad shape. Comic sales were down, and the company was battling bankruptcy, hence they were selling off the screen rights to their characters every which way, resulting in the tangled web of rights issues which it's taken them all these years to untangle (not that it's entirely tangle-free today).
While the movie rights to Marvel superheroes might seem like gold dust in retrospect, the truth is that the characters were not especially hot properties at the time. There had been only one theatrically released movie based on a Marvel character: George Lucas's notorious 1986 misfire Howard the Duck (or two if we count 1985 Conan spin-off Red Sonja, also a widely derided flop).
Beyond that, the only other Marvel movies yet made were 1989's The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren, and 1990's Captain America; both low budget productions which went straight to video.
And let's not forget 1994's infamously unreleased Roger Corman production The Fantastic Four, or the Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD TV movie with David Hasselhoff (made in the same year as Blade, remarkably).
Blade changed all that. It was a Marvel movie produced on a proper, large-scale budget, which played in cinemas worldwide. And it did one more thing that was even more significant...