Mahershala Ali to Star in 'Blade' Reboot for Marvel

BTS Mahershala Ali-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Van Van Alonso
The casting was announced during the studio's Hall H presentation at Comic-Con.

Mahershala Ali is joining the Marvel Studios fold as the star of a Blade movie.

The casting was announced Sunday during the studio's Hall H presentation at Comic-Con, where Ali received massive applause as he took the stage and put on a Blade baseball cap.

Created by writer Marv Wolfman, Blade made his first appearance in the 1973 comic book The Tomb of Dracula #10 as a supporting character. He is known to be a vampire hunter — half-mortal, half-immortal — who tries to rid the world of vampires as a way of avenging his mother, who was killed by a vampire as she gave birth to him.

Wesley Snipes starred as the vigilante in David S. Goyer's Blade franchise, which began with the 1998 original and was followed by two sequels, Blade II and Blade: Trinity. The series grossed $204 million at the box office, and is considered to have served as the unofficial kickoff to the modern comic book movie culture.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter after the presentation, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said that Ali called the studio after winning the Oscar for his work on Green Book. "When Mahershala calls, you answer," Feige said. At the meeting, Ali came right out and said that he wanted to do Blade. That was that.

Ali is a two-time Oscar winner, having first snagged a statuette for his role in Barry Jenkins' Moonlight. He was most recently in theaters with Robert Rodriguez' Alita: Battle Angel. Curiously, he appeared on Marvel and Netflix's Luke Cage as the villain Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes. Technically, the Netflix shows took place in the same universe as Marvel's films, though they never truly felt like they connected.

Patrick Shanley contributed to this report.