Director Yann Demange Wants to “Unleash” Mahershala Ali

Image: 20th Century

Marvel’s upcoming Blade movie will introduce the beloved vampire hunter to the MCU and mark his first theatrical appearance since Wesley Snipes bowed out of the role with 2007’s Blade Trinity. Much has been made about what the movie is or isn’t, but for director Yann Demange, the film will be a great showcase for star Mahershala Ali’s darker side.

While doing promo for his upcoming short film Dammi, Demange told Deadline he’s excited to be “more open, more vulnerable” in future projects, but he wants the Marvel flick to really do right by Ali—who he called a “deep actor”—and showcase the man’s range. “I’m excited to show a kind of ruthlessness, a roughness [Ali] has, that allows him to walk the earth in a particular way. I love him for that,” explained Demange. “He’s got a dignity and integrity, but there is a ferocity there that he usually keeps under the surface. I want to unleash that and put it on the screen.”

A two-time Oscar winner, Ali is mainly known for appearing in dramas like Moonlight and Green Book, though he’s appeared in a few action movies, including Predators and the two Mockingjay films. His most physically intensive roles have, funnily enough, been in animated fare like the Prowler in the Spider-Verse movies and Titan in Invincible. Looking cool in action is something of a prerequisite for a Blade actor; Snipes’ movies succeeded in part because the actor looked like he could beat up anyone who came at him, which he often did.

Demange went on to confirm that Blade will be R-rated like the Snipes films, which will make it the MCU’s second R-rated film behind Deadpool 3. That rating is “so important,” he continued, and will likely interest those who have a fond affection for those earlier films and their lovably bloody violence.

Blade is expected to hit theaters on September 6, 2024. Demange’s full interview about Dammi and how it resonates with his own background can be read here.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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