Wesley Snipes kicked off the modern superhero movie movement after the dismal reaction to ‘Batman & Robin’ in 1997. Snipes’ ‘Blade’ brought a dark, violent, adult sensibility that opened the door for 2000’s ‘X-Men’ and things have only snowballed from there, with the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy which earned Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, last year’s milestone ‘Wonder Woman’, which succeeded partially by truly speaking to women, and ‘Logan’ the first superhero movie to ever be nominated for an Academy Award in a writing category.
But before ‘Blade’, did you know that Snipes got very close to bringing another Marvel champion to the big screen? It’s true. Snipes struggled for years to get a ‘Black Panther’ movie made, but unfortunately hit several roadblocks that ultimately resulted in it never getting made. Luckily, the experience paved the way for ‘Blade’, but who knows what might have happened if Snipes had starred in a different superhero movie earlier? Would history have played out differently?
That we’ll never know, but for perhaps the first time, in anticipation for the release of Marvel Studios’ ‘Black Panther’, starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler, Snipes revealed his struggles with getting his version made, which include the inability to find a proper script and director, not to mention the limitations of CGI technology of the mid-90s. Apparently, Mario Van Peebles, who directed Snipes in ‘New Jack City’ was one choice to helm ‘Black Panther’, but Snipes says he never met with him. But he recalls having a difference of opinion with John Singleton, who was hot at the time, after his success with ‘Boyz in the Hood’.
“We went through three different scripts and a couple of different director options — very interesting director options at the time. They were trying to find the young, up-and-coming black directors.
“I laid on [Singleton] my vision of the film being closer to what you see now: the whole world of Africa being a hidden, highly technically advanced society, cloaked by a force field, Vibranium. John was like, ‘Nah! Hah! Hah! See, he’s got the spirit of the Black Panther, but he is trying to get his son to join the [civil rights activist] organization. And he and his son have a problem, and they have some strife because he is trying to be politically correct and his son wants to be a knucklehead.’
“I am loosely paraphrasing our conversation. But ultimately, John wanted to take the character and put him in the civil rights movement. And I’m like, ‘Dude! Where’s the toys?! They are highly technically advanced, and it will be fantastic to see Africa in this light opposed to how Africa is typically portrayed.’ I wanted to see the glory and the beautiful Africa. The jewel Africa.
“I love John, but I am so glad we didn’t go down that road, because that would have been the wrong thing to do with such a rich project.
“Ultimately, we couldn’t find the right combination of script and director and, also at the time, we were so far ahead of the game in the thinking, the technology wasn’t there to do what they had already created in the comic book.”
Speaking of comic books, Marvel Comics was actually on the verge of bankruptcy and would have had to liquidate all of its assets, but ‘Blade’ helped save it and the company has only gone up since then, leading to the phenomenally successful Cinematic Universe that dominates the box office today.
As for Snipes, he is interested in reviving Blade in a new movie. But he isn’t sour about the upcoming ‘Black Panther’ which he is not part of.
“Even though I am not a part of this particular project, I support it 1,000 percent, and I am absolutely convinced that it will be a catalyst for change and open other doors and other opportunitie. And we need that kind of diversity and different flavor now. He is a young, talented actor, and I think he is going to make it his own. I hope they give him a great opportunity to really come into the fullness of the character.”
‘Black Panther’ directed by Ryan Coogler stars Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker and Letitia Wright. It opens in theaters on February 16.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter