Like every other studio in the business, Marvel Studios reshuffled its 2020 and 2021 film slates more than once as the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted every aspect of production. Two weeks ago, at Disney’s Investor Day, the studio revealed the latest (and hopefully final) plan that saw it’s 2022 slate rearranged, moving Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther II and Captain Marvel 2 a spreading the release dates of its four films (Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness is still set for a March 2022 release) a little more evenly throughout the year. Interestingly enough, the studio did NOT place a film on the October 7, 2022 date that they reserved late last year. That date has remained open, but reserved for a Marvel Studios film, though for many fans, it’s become increasingly hard to believe Kevin Feige would release a film on that date as it would mean going head-to-head with Sony’s animated Spider-Verse sequel, which was moved from April to October of 2022 during the pandemic. And while that logic holds up, an official Investor’s Day fact sheet presents the possibility that Marvel Studios may be at least thinking about dropping Blade, a FIFTH feature film, in 2022 and that October date makes sense for a lot of reasons.
As you can see in the first image, the fact sheet indicates that the projects are listed in chronological order. The second image then lists Blade between Black Panther II’s July 8th release and Captain Marvel 2’s November 11th date. A quick check of the calendar shows that October 7th happens to fall in between those other two dates. An October 7th date would also put Blade, a film set to reintroduce Marvel’s premier vampire hunter, in theaters during the time of year when audiences are in the mood to watch films about such things. So while it’s a little hard to see Marvel Studios putting out 5 films in one year, the evidence is all there staring us in the face…how we chose to interpret it is up to us.
Of course, there are quite a few obstacles in the way of Blade making that October 2022 release. Fiege did tease upcoming news about the project during the Investor Day presentation, but as of now, the only thing we know about the project is that Mahershala Ali will star in it. As far as we know, the film doesn’t have a creative team behind it at the moment, and Marvel Studios has historically liked to give the team about a year to work together before filming. They also tend to film about 12-16 months before release, which means they’d like to begin production on the film sometime between June and October of 2021. Now there are certainly exceptions to those rules on either side: sometimes the teams are together longer, sometimes shorter; sometimes films get started closer to expected release, sometimes further out (especially now with all the uncertainty). For example, Destin Daniel Cretton was brought on board to direct Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings just 10 months before filming was scheduled to begin. If Marvel Studios has a good idea of where the film is going and maybe an in-house outline of the script, it’s not impossible to believe that the film could be ready for an October start of production if they were able to get a team together sometime early next month. If such an announcement comes in early January, it could provide a couple more data points to help us make a decision. Of course, the best data point would be an official announcement and in these crazy times it’s best for all of us (even me!) to wait on one of those. But at this point, we cannot say with any certainty that we will not see Ali as Blade in the Fall of 2022.