Marvel Movie Madness! Part 7: Blade

We sink our teeth into Marvel's vampiric hero.

by | May 24, 2011 | Comments

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.


Part 7: Blade (1998, 55% @ 84 reviews)

Directed by Stephen Norrington, starring Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright

Matt: In 1998, Blade hacked and slashed his way onto the big screen in one of the bloodiest comic book adaptations we’d ever see (at least until Blade II). Wesley Snipes, mostly at the top of his stardom, played the vicious vampire killer, and the movie was directed by a relative newcomer named Stephen Norrington.

I remember liking this movie, but I was surprised at how bleak it was when I rewatched it. There’s a washed out feeling to the cinematography that’s somewhat alienating, and I think it really helps set the tone here. As I watched it though, I felt like there was a conflict between the laconic intensity of the Blade character and Wesley Snipes’ natural exuberance. Blade is very dour character here (more than he is in the comics), but sometimes Snipes just can’t help mugging, or making a wisecrack.


Alex: Absolutely, this movie looks fantastic. The sets have zero clutter, with the images stern and elegant. It actually creates a sense of oppression, reminiscent of The Dark Knight later on. Other than some unfortunate CG work during the climax, it’s hard to believe Blade has been out for nearly 15 years.

Norrington is clearly more comfortable with Snipes’s physical strength than later directors who waste a lot of time on unnecessary stylized shots and slo-mo moments. You got Wesley Snipes in front of the camera; just let him do his thing and you’ll get all the badass you need. There’s very little posturing and chasing around in this movie. It’s all direct choreographed brawling and it just feels great and real.

That’s what I love about Blade and X-Men: they were filmed when Marvel had no precedent of Hollywood success. They hide their comic book origins and focus on making sense within the real world. Blade has refreshing immediacy, something slowly traded away for spectacle in modern comic book movies.


Tim: I agree with you, Alex. Having not read the Blade comics, I could imagine how this story looked on the page without much difficulty. I really enjoyed how movie plugs you into its world without tons of convoluted backstory or heavy portentousness. Still, there’s a lot going on here: at times, Blade is an AIDS parable, at others, an Oedipal nightmare. Sometimes, Snipes comes across as the supernatural resurrection of John Shaft — he’s a supercool freelancer navigating the underground on a mission to make things right. But none of that detracts from the sheer fun of this movie — it’s got several fantastic set pieces (I particularly love the disco bloodbath at the beginning), and the performances are all better than they need to be. I could listen to Kris Kristofferson read the phone book, and N’Bushe Wright is good enough here to make it lamentable that we haven’t seen much of her since.

In some ways, the sleek aesthetic of Blade feels like a dress rehearsal for The Matrix one year later: it’s got leather trench coats, shades, a throbbing techno soundtrack, spiritual mumbo jumbo, and truckloads of spent shell casings. Alex is right — some of the special effects look surprisingly dated, and the end is probably 15 minutes too long. But he’s also correct in the fact that Blade is an assured B-movie that works well despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that Blade is a lesser-known Marvel character — it’s not weighted down with the expectations of a rabid fan base, so it can go about its business with efficiency and a good deal of panache.

Alex: Marvel was probably cautious after watching D.C. let Superman and Batman rise, crash, and burn. Smart to toss out Blade first to test the waters.

More Marvel Movie Madness:

Tag Cloud

Polls and Games BBC Infographic X-Men TBS crime thriller travel docudrama NBC composers crime Sneak Peek Valentine's Day Superheroes Rocky Certified Fresh Lionsgate TCM DirecTV LGBTQ Nominations E! GLAAD Starz Extras Rom-Com Comedy Fall TV Amazon OWN Kids & Family Showtime supernatural singing competition Summer 24 frames FX Spring TV 2015 Schedule Holidays adventure Biopics Bravo Star Trek BBC America Horror technology Podcast ABC historical drama Awards dramedy Martial Arts Best and Worst TLC Music Election Star Wars Reality Ghostbusters cooking Musicals TV Red Carpet Comic Book Adult Swim Year in Review History Masterpiece ABC Family Interview Thanksgiving Winter TV science fiction CBS The Arrangement Esquire Disney Channel RT History Premiere Dates Hulu Teen MSNBC TIFF Fantasy Marathons Tomatazos Comedy Central Super Bowl SundanceTV police drama Oscars comiccon ITV Video Games Crackle Mystery Sci-Fi Fox News The CW Freeform Countdown Action diversity VH1 Food Network Set visit IFC Country harry potter aliens Pop Disney Musical WGN war AMC period drama TV Land Emmys Nat Geo Syfy Grammys Toys BET cinemax PBS USA Writers Guild of America Trivia CMT sitcom Cartoon Network CNN A&E biography Marvel APB zombie cops serial killer boxoffice TruTV HBO psycho NYCC discovery politics GoT First Look Nickelodeon thriller Lifetime Watching Series FXX Universal vampires Box Office Netflix Opinion CBS All Access GIFs TNT Drama Photos Reality Competition Calendar Logo Tumblr Trailer Character Guide 2017 FOX based on movie El Rey Dark Horse Comics Pirates Mary Tyler Moore ESPN VICE Animation Rock 007 PaleyFest sports Winners Sundance TCA American Society of Cinematographers TCA 2017 2016 MTV SDCC DC Comics crime drama President social media Cosplay