Days after a simple four-word, one-emoji tweet (“He will do great” plus prayer hands) made the rounds with Snipes championing Ali (who just made his MCU debut — by voice, anyway — in an Eternals post-credits scene), the 59-year-old screen vet had more encouraging things to say about the sword hand-off during our interview for his new Netflix limited series True Story with Kevin Hart.
In fact, Snipes says he’s talked to Ali about the situation — and feels no bitterness about it at all.
“We’ve spoke — we shared that the issue of him being cast wasn’t between us, that’s business,” he tells us.
“I’m cool with it. I don’t walk around as Blade, so I’m not attached to the character like that [laughs]. I feel no emotional loss. Zero. And I’m happy that he’s being recast and more than likely will do a great job.”
The New Jack City and Dolemite Is My Name star played the beloved vampire hunter in a trilogy of films from 1998 to 2004 (Blade, Blade II and Blade: Trinity), and the reaction to Marvel’s 2019 announcement that they’d be introducing Blade to the MCU as played by Ali proved how popular Snipes was as the character also known as Eric Brooks.
For as much as excitement as there was over the casting of Ali, the two-time Oscar-winning actor (Moonlight, Green Book) who also played the villainous Cottonmouth in the first season of the Marvel’s Netflix series Luke Cage, the news riled Snipes fans who thought he should get another shot at donning Blade’s famous black trench coat again. (Snipes had said as recently as 2015 that he hoped to do another installment and was “in talks” with Marvel.)
But superheroes change hands all the time — there have been three Spider-Men and six (six!) Batmen since 1989 — and Snipes will be 60 in July. The oldest Marvel star, by comparison, has been Robert Downey Jr., who was 52 when he went into production on the last two Avengers films.
Snipes admitted he was caught off guard by Ali’s initial casting announcement in 2019, but has sought to calm his fans from the get-go. “To all the DAYWALKERS losing their minds right now, chillaaxx,” Snipes said in a statement to ComicBook.com shortly after the news broke at San Diego Comic-Con. “Although the news comes as a surprise, it’s ALL GOOD. Such is the ‘business’ of ‘entertainment!’ Much peace to the Marvel Cinema Universe crew — always a fan.
“Congratulations and Salaam to Mahershala Ali, a beautiful and talented artist whose expressions I look forward to experiencing for many years to come. Inshallah, we will someday work together.”
In our interview this week, Spikes shared what advice he’d have for Ali, who is expected to go into production on the Bassam Tariq-directed Blade reboot in July.
“Make sure you’re in shape, man,” he says. “Try not to get hurt. With the demands of action movies, you gotta be an elite athlete and be well-conditioned to survive, and avoid injury.
“And enjoy it while it lasts.”
True Story premieres Wednesday, Nov. 24 on Netflix.
Watch the True Story trailer: