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

TCA Universal Lifetime zombie Crackle Music President Country crossover war comiccon Reality Competition supernatural Sundance cats CBS All Access Pirates Trivia Drama cinemax Grammys E! DC Comics police drama boxoffice Tumblr Food Network crime Syfy YA 2015 zombies 20th Century Fox Character Guide dramedy The Arrangement TruTV Superheroes Countdown biography AMC Holidays Martial Arts Valentine's Day Spike Ellie Kemper 21st Century Fox Showtime Year in Review Shondaland Starz ITV The CW politics Warner Bros. Paramount Network BET SDCC Reality FXX medical drama USA Network Acorn TV FX golden globes sports Super Bowl FOX Musical VICE NBC Infographic HBO DirecTV Awards Netflix Box Office thriller Biopics Kids & Family cops APB Sci-Fi Fox News Nominations See It Skip It Sundance Now Adult Swim Animation festivals what to watch Superheroe Bravo VH1 History Lionsgate Action Sneak Peek Mary Tyler Moore A&E aliens TNT Certified Fresh Mystery Pop RT History Summer vampires Pixar 45 TCM GLAAD Watching Series technology X-Men Cartoon Network composers based on movie Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Western finale dc justice league IFC Films TIFF Star Trek discovery PBS cults MTV El Rey GIFs Nat Geo 2016 Sony Pictures Ghostbusters spy thriller Creative Arts Emmys Marvel USA Oscars binge crime drama Photos Trailer Britbox hist DC streaming service singing competition DC Universe robots crime thriller NYCC 2017 docudrama historical drama SundanceTV Hulu Rom-Com Spring TV sitcom Esquire National Geographic TV Mindy Kaling Horror harry potter ABC Family Tomatazos BBC America psycho TLC First Look Musicals Disney Channel Interview Red Carpet Comic Book LGBTQ Dark Horse Comics Cosplay romance Masterpiece Marathons Nickelodeon transformers Best and Worst talk show E3 Polls and Games social media diversity Freeform Schedule Disney Paramount ABC MSNBC Winners BBC Teen Set visit ESPN Premiere Dates Video Games Toys IFC GoT Thanksgiving Christmas Winter TV YouTube Red Fantasy Podcast TV Land Opinion American Society of Cinematographers PaleyFest political drama unscripted dceu OWN 24 frames science fiction period drama Extras Fall TV Calendar WGN Lucasfilm CW Seed Emmys Writers Guild of America TBS Star Wars CMT cooking Comedy Logo TCA 2017 Amazon SXSW Comedy Central travel adventure ratings CNN CBS Rocky 007 Election serial killer Rock