So I’m channel-hopping the other night, which is a thing that people with cable still do, and I come across Blade. You remember Blade, right? The one where Wesley Snipes plays a surly, snarling Daywalker waging a guerilla war against the vampire cabal that secretly runs the world?
It’s pretty great. The sequel, directed and co-written by some art-house nobody named Guillermo Del Toro, was even better. (We don’t talk about the third one too much.) And though nobody seems to remember this, Blade is a Marvel character.
In fact, Blade was technically the only good Marvel movie until X-Men came along a couple of years later and made people take comic-book cinema seriously. And that got me thinking about where Blade might fit into Marvel’s ongoing movie project, and what other characters deserve a shot at a new incarnation.
This is actually tougher than you might think, since a lot of the characters who were ill-served by solo vehicles have already been rehabilitated – Joss Whedon fixed the Hulk in The Avengers, for example, and Netflix reclaimed Daredevil, Elektra and The Punisher from their clunkier big-screen incarnations. But I found a few. Shall we?
He’d have to be recast, of course Snipes has kept himself in shape, but we’d need a younger face to introduce the character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Imagine Doctor Strange going to Blade for help when a vampire horde attacks Greenwich Village, in much the same way Tony Stark recruited Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Mahershala Ali would be perfect, but he’s already played a Marvel character in the Luke Cage series, so I’m going to go in an unexpected direction and suggest Lamorne Morris, a comic scene-stealer most recently seen in Game Night who’s about the same age Snipes was when he first played the character but looks about a decade younger. Maybe Morris’s New Girl co-star Jake Johnson, who voices Peter Parker in next month’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, could set up a meeting.
Batman is such a large part of DC’s ongoing cinematic universe that his wiliest adversary – and, perhaps, his greatest love – really should have turned up by now, even if it was just as a photograph on a desk in the Batcave. Harley Quinn is the star of the two Bat-spinoffs currently in production (Suicide Squad 2 and Birds Of Prey), but that means there’s a huge opportunity just lying there, waiting to be snapped up if someone can figure out the casting. Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway all put their own spin on the character, but we need someone who can hold her own with Ben Affleck. Rosario Dawson has some time in her schedule now that Netflix has cancelled Power Man and Iron Fist, and we already know she’s comfortable with cat ears. Alternately, if they recast Batman with a younger actor and want to de-age everyone else accordingly, Helena Howard displayed a feral edge in this summer’s terrific indie Madeline’s Madeline that would suit Selena Kyle very nicely indeed.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR
Josh Trank’s 2015 disaster soured the world on Marvel’s beloved super-family, but it wasn’t the fault of the actors: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan had a good sense of the characters, and probably would have been a lot of fun in a better movie. Now that Disney owns Fox, the biggest barrier to bringing the FF into the official Marvel continuity is gone – but Ryan Coogler casting Jordan in Black Panther would seem to disqualify him from returning as Johnny Storm. And then it hit me: Stephan James is just a few years younger, and he did tell me he wanted to play Spider-Man a couple of years back. The Human Torch might not be such a leap.
DC and Warner already hinted at the return of the space cop in the opening sequence of Justice League, which saw members of the galaxy-guarding Green Lantern Corps assemble on earth alongside the Amazons and Atlanteans to stave off an invasion by Steppenwolf waaay back when. But after the Ryan Reynolds movie cratered in 2011, Hal Jordan probably isn’t the best character to wear the power ring… so let’s give it to his comic-book successor John Stewart – who appeared in Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, voiced by Lil Yachty. I’m thinking John Boyega might be a good choice for a live-action Stewart he does a pretty good American accent, and he’s going to need something to do after Star Wars wraps.
Superhero Nonsense is NOW’s weekly column delving into all things superheroic. Check out previous columns here.