The news is out! Blade, the long-awaited cinematic reboot of Marvel’s resident vampire hunter, is now without a director. Bassam Tariq, who had been attached to the project since the summer of 2021, relieved himself of his duties after multiple delays in production forced the film past his range of availability. Marvel Studios is said to already be in search mode for a new filmmaker to take over Mahershala Ali‘s much-anticipated bloodsucking debut, but with relatively short notice and a tight schedule to work with, it might not be easy to lock a creative down. Luckily for Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel, Murphy’s Multiverse has a few suggestions that just might do the trick.
When thinking of a potential new director, it’s important to keep in mind that Marvel will need somebody who can step in quickly and pick up the reigns of production with ease. It’s very likely the studio will reach out to talent they already know, and keep to names that likely won’t demand a total restart of the creative process once they’re on board. This narrows down the list considerably, but also provides an excellent list of helmers that would be sure to make the best Blade film possible.
Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah
When one thinks of directors who’ve worked with Marvel Studios in the past and recently had their schedule pretty cleared up, one thinks of the duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. The creative pairing have had a rollercoaster year, and essentially all of it has been within the realm of live-action superheroism. Adil and Bilall spent the last couple years directing the first and last episodes of the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel before moving on to make DC’s Batgirl film. As has been widely reported in recent months, only one of those two projects actually released. At one point, the team was supposed to take over Eddie Murphy‘s Beverly Hills Cop IV, but that job has also since fallen through.
The point being made here is that, despite an immense amount of talent between the both of them, Adil and Bilall are not currently tied down to any known movie or series. Following the loss of Batgirl, Marvel boss Feige sent the duo an apologetic email that implied he hoped to work with them again soon, and their previous directing credits (namely Bad Boys For Life) suggest they’d be a perfect fit for the action-packed world of Blade. The biggest setback in this plan would be if Feige prefers they return for a potential second season of Ms. Marvel instead, but since that project is merely a rumor and not officially in the cards, the betting man would be smarter to put it all on Blade and hope for the best.
Similarly to the previous entry on this list, filmmaking veteran Antoine Fuqua is currently without an immediate project. The director, known for his work on films like Training Day and The Equalizer, recently lead production on a Will Smith-starring movie titled Emancipation for Apple TV+. However, controversy surrounding the actor’s now-infamous Oscar’s slap and a handful of filming delays have caused Emancipation to be put on the back burner. Couple that with the fact Fuqua supposedly met with Marvel Studios about the potential of directing something back in 2018, and there may be cause to believe the filmmaker could be on the list of talent being sought out by Feige at this very moment. While it has been a long time since that widely-reported meeting took place, Marvel is well-known for their ability to circle back around to creatives and concepts that didn’t work out in the past. At the very least, Feige has Fuqua‘s phone number, and the latter’s notable filmography of gritty, action-based plots with plenty of real-world symbolism would mix perfectly with a take on Blade that has Mahershala in the titular role.
A name that’s currently hot in Hollywood, Gina Prince-Bythewood could be an incredible sleeper pick for Blade if her schedule allows it. The director has spent the last couple of years building an impressive resume in the action genre, adapting The Old Guard graphic novel to positive reviews in 2020 before releasing The Woman King to critical acclaim just this past month. Both projects were praised for their fight choreography and story elements, putting Prince-Bythewood at the top of the list of people who could likely handle what Blade requires.
Not only that, but the former Love & Basketball filmmaker has a history with Marvel projects, having worked on Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger in 2018 before developing the unmade Silver & Black for Sony’s Spider-Man universe. With Sony and Marvel Studios now so friendly, it seems plausible that Feige could have a standing relationship with Prince-Bythewood that leads to her taking over directorial duties for Blade. The creative already passed over directing The Old Guard 2, so the next few months might be open enough for her to slide in and make her mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
F. Gary Gray
Bringing it all the way back to 2015, when F. Gary Gray topped Marvel Studios’ shortlist of possible directors for the megahit Black Panther. Obviously, he didn’t take the gig, which ultimately went to Ryan Coogler with Gray helming Universal’s The Fate of the Furious instead. However, the fact Marvel was so high on the filmmaker at that point could mean he’s still on their radar nearly a decade later, with his only upcoming project being the undated Kevin Hart heist film Lift. The creative has a history of crafting movies with over-the-top action scenes, and has worked with major studios on summer blockbuster-style products on many occasions. All of this could make Gray the perfect veteran presence to step in and course-correct Blade in an efficient manner.
The least likely name on this list, but one that could be a lot of fun. Best known for her stellar acting career, Regina King has spent the last decade dabbling with work behind the scenes as well. She’s been directing episodes of television since 2013 and made her feature film debut with One Night in Miami… in 2020. According to showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, the iconic creative almost directed an episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage during its two-season run, and although she’s since denied it, King was once listed as a name in contention for DC’s Superman reboot. Her busy schedule may not permit it, but if she could find the time to fit Blade in, it could make for one of the most exciting and original directing choices Marvel Studios has ever made.
Source(s): CBR, Collider, Entertainment Weekly