‘Blade’ Director Bassam Tariq Exits Marvel’s Vampire Movie Ahead of Production Start

Mahershala Ali will star as the half-human vampire hunter first played by Wesley Snipes

Development on Marvel’s reboot of the “Blade” movies has hit a snag, as Bassam Tariq has stepped down as director on the film just weeks before it was supposed to go into production.

“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. We appreciate Bassam’s talent and all the work he’s done getting Blade to where it is,” Marvel Studios said in a statement.

Aside from that explanation, no further details were provided about Bassam’s exit.

“Blade” is still scheduled for Nov. 23, 2023; considering production was set to begin in November, Marvel will have to scramble to find a new director in time to stave off any delays. Bassam joined the film in Summer 2021. Playwright Stacy Osei-Kuffour wrote the script for “Blade,” which reboots the character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali will star, taking over from Wesley Snipes, who portrayed the half-human vampire hunter in the original “Blade” trilogy, which kicked off in 1998 with “Blade,” followed by “Blade II” in 2002 and “Blade: Trinity” in 2004.

Those films departed from the comics by making Blade half-vampire (he’s just a normal human who happens to be immune to vampirism in the comics), a depiction that has stuck with popular culture and is assumed will be kept for the reboot.

Made for a relatively modest $45 million, “Blade” was a surprise hit, bringing in $131 million. The sequel directed by Guillermo del Toro was even more successful, making $155 million off a $54 million budget. Together, the films are credited with helping to revive super hero films in the wake of 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” proving that the earlier movie’s poor reception didn’t mean the genre was dead. Arguably they paved the way for the “Dark Knight” trilogy and eventually the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan, Blade first appeared as a supporting character in 1973 and starred in his own title shortly thereafter.

THR first reported the news.

Umberto Gonzalez contributed to this report.