Marvel Comics hadn’t had a hit movie in actually theatres despite their popularity in the comic book world. DC Comics had Superman and Batman but by the late 1990s their films weren’t doing too well either. In 1997 DC released Batman and Robin and Steel. Both critical and box office duds. Strangely enough Marvel had sold several of their characters to different studios but New Line, a division of Warner was the first to make a Marvel character into a feature length movie.
20 years ago this week Blade hit theatres and become a hit for Marvel and New Line. It would change the landscape for superhero movies and paved the path for more Marvel movies forcing DC/Warner to relaunch the Batman franchise. Starring Wesley Snipes as Blade, a vampire hunter who is trying to kill all vampires, the movie was one of the first R-rated superhero movies.
Blade started off as a supporting character from Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula comic series. He eventual started starring in his own comics but he was just a regular person obsessed with killing vampires. Here they tweak his origin and give him more super powers. Blade’s mother was killed by a vampire when Blade was born making Blade a daywalker a half human, half vampire making him super strong, hard to kill but sunlight doesn’t affect him like it does with vampires, hence daywalker.
The movie starts with Blade attacking a group of vampires at an underground rave. One of the vampires survives and is mistakenly taken to a hospital where he attacks Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright). Blade saves her and tries to help cure her before she becomes a vampire with the help of his partner Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). Meanwhile Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) takes over the vampire council and has plans on resurrecting a vampire god to take over the world.
Director Stephen Norrington would only direct two other movies, the last being the terrible adaptation of Alan Moore’s comic book series The League of Extraordinary Men which Norrington hated working on and quit movies after that. After Blade’s success Fox would bring Marvel’s X-Men next to the big screen followed by Sony’s Spider-Man. The film is fun, stylish and violent. The movie was a surprise hit and would eventual spawn two sequels, the second one directed by Guillermo del Toro.