In an unexpected turn of events, Marvel‘s vampire action-thriller Blade has lost its director. It is unknown if Bassam Tariq’s departure from his role will affect the original release date of the movie starring Mahershala Ali, but he will remain on board as executive producer.
As confirmed in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel representatives have confirmed that Tariq has parted ways with the film. “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 said in their statement. “We appreciate Bassam’s talent and all the work he’s done getting Blade to where it is.” Tariq, who previously directed and co-wrote Mogul Mowgli, reiterated his departure in his own follow-up statement, thanking Marvel for the experience so far and wishing the next director well. “It’s been an honor working with the wonderful folks at Marvel. We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film,” Tariq said. An unknown source has indicated that Marvel is already in the process of sourcing a new director.
It is unclear if Tariq’s departure as director will affect production. The production of Blade was first announced at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, in which Ali made a surprise appearance wearing a baseball cap with the Blade logo during a Marvel panel. Filming was set to begin in Atlanta in October/ November, with the movie originally given a release date of November 3, 2023. Sources now say this date is yet to be determined.
Tariq’s stepping down as director is not the only change in the production of Blade, which has already seen several rounds of script rewrites. Beau DeMayo, who has worked on Marvel’s Moon Knight as well as other shows including The Witcher and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds remains the current writer. DeMayo replaced Stacy Osei-Kuffour, who wrote the initial script Tariq worked off during 2021. Changes have not been announced in regards to cast, in which Ali is still set to star in the film as titular character Blade alongside Delroy Lindo (The Good Fight) and Aaron Pierre (Old).
Blade will follow the story of the half-mortal, half-immortal vampire hunter originally created by Marv Wolfman. Blade first appeared in Wolfman’s The Tomb of Dracula No. 10 in 1973, which was illustrated by artist Gene Colan. Originally played by Wesley Snipes in an early 2000s trilogy, Blade focuses on the hunter seeking to avenge his mother, who was killed by a vampire when giving birth to him. The character (as played by Ali) also made a voice appearance in a post-credits scene at the end of Marvel’s Eternals.
At this stage, Blade is still set to appear in theatres November 3, 2023.