9 Blade Movie Facts You Probably Didn't Know
By Chris E. Hayner on
It's been 20 years since Blade rampaged into theaters. While in 2018, the Marvel Cinematic Universe reigns supreme in the comic book movie world, 1998 was a simpler time. Films based on graphic novels and comics weren't an automatic win, and you had just as much chance to be Howard the Duck as you did Batman Returns.
Blade helped show viewers that you could take a comic book idea and gear it towards an audience that wasn't made up of children. This movie was rated R and took its violence and gore very seriously. In doing so, it became a modest box office success and fan favorite movie that still holds up two decades later.
Still, even with 20 years of love for Blade, there's plenty you may not know about the film. Thankfully, some of those things are now coming to light thanks to producer Robert Engelman and star Eric Edwards (Pearl). The two took part in a screening of the movie presented by Screamfest in Los Angeles recently, which I was able to attend. After the film, they fielded questions from the audience.
In between regaling the audience with stories of making a comic book movie before they were cool, Edwards and Engelman both shared some very interesting into about their time on the set of Blade, including these nine pieces of trivia you have probably never heard before.
After you've checked out these facts, don't forget to take a look at our complete ranking of Marvel movies, from best to worst, according to critics
1. The director was not easy to work with.
While the final cut of Blade is great, it was a hard road to go down for Engelman. One of the biggest issues was director Stephen Norrington. "He was an unbelievable nightmare to work with," the producer said. "He was completely crazy and imbalanced."
For Engelman, it was a truly bizarre experience filled with highs and lows. "We had the strangest relationship," he continues. "We would fight all day long. Everyone on the crew thought we'd hated each other. Then in dailies, it'd be the cameraman, Steve, and me. We'd get all these sheets of paper, roll them up in little balls and we'd just throw them at the screen. We'd just laugh, race around in our chairs, and then the next day we'd go back to fighting."
2. However, there's one thing the director did perfectly--Blade's tattoos.
One of the most interesting visual aspects of Blade was the ink on the titular Daywalker. Blade was covered in intricate tattoos, care of Norrington.
"[He] was a complete crazy guy, but a brilliant visualist," Engelman admitted. "He actually drew all the tattoos for Wesley Snipes. He drew half the sets. I mean, it really was his vision."
3. Pearl was initially going to be a gay vampire.
While it was a small role in the film, it's hard to forget Pearl, the massive vampire Blade encounters. Originally, though, the character was going to be quite different.
"I read it and well originally the vampire was probably gay," Edwards revealed. "We were talking [and] in one draft they wanted like a young boy laid across my stomach, but I guess they decided not to. Which I thought was funny cause I always played it that way."
4. Wesley Snipes didn't necessarily give the movie everything he had
Blade is clearly one of Snipes' best roles, but that doesn't mean he was always giving 100%. "Wesley was great," Engelman said. "Wesley was a bit lazy. He wanted to leave early on Friday, come in late on Monday. And the first day he says, 'Actually, I don't think Blade is gonna talk very much.'' Well, I knew what that meant. He didn't need to have any lines. But he was terrific. He took it real seriously, and he was Wesley."
5. There's one big reason Snipes wanted to do this movie.
While playing a comic book superhero in a Marvel movie seems like an obviously good idea in 2018, 1998 was a different time. Comic book films didn't necessarily mean instant success and the MCU was still years away from existing.
Knowing it was something of a gamble, Edwards asked Snipes what make him say yes to Blade while the two were on set. "He goes, 'Bob, I get to kill everyone. I get to be as vicious as possible and everyone cheers and I'm not a bad guy.' He says, 'Where else can I do that?' So he just loved the idea that he could be this vampire killer and just go crazy" Edwards explained.
6. The Pearl costume was very difficult to put on.
Given the all of the special effects for Pearl were done practically, that means Edwards had to wear a massive costume. However, it was a more complicated process than most probably think.
"The suit was this huge contraption where it had a floor that was on hydraulics that they would lower down," the actor said. "I would get in, I would sit in first, and the guy who played my left arm would come in, the guy who played my right arm would come in. These two puppeteers and then they would raise us up, lock it, and once I was in then they would attach my head to the body of this huge suit. And that I think took 45 minutes to an hour to do. And then it, it only took like 15 minutes to pop off."
7. What's more, the entire set for those scenes was built around Pearl.
Given the size of Pearl, it was impossible to fit the character into a set that was already designed. Instead, they had to create the space with Pearl in mind.
"You know, normally, you know you say, 'Here's the actor. You move to where we want,'" Engelman remembered. "In this case, it was all about you and then the set, we would move around you. It was a little strange. We had a great, great production designer, Kirk Petruccelli, and he just did a fabulous job and with Steve. Like I said, Steve would do a lot of Photoshop and design it and then Kirk would then take it to a whole different level, and then we tie it in with the effects and the stunts."
8. How did they make Wesley look so good in his fight scenes?
Throughout the film, Blade is getting into some fierce hand-to-hand combat with a number of vampires and in each skirmish, Snipes looks like a supremely talented fighter. How is that done? Pit him against supremely talented people.
"What the secret was is, for example, in the scene in the archive, with the little girl," Engelman said. "She's a real martial artist. She's done it her whole life. She started at age five. Wesley does a bunch of roundhouse kicks and then you have a real, you have a really good martial artist who then takes the hit and flips and does all this stuff and it makes Wesley look like he's incredibly good."
Still, that's not to take away from Snipes own abilities. He continued, "Wesley is good. He is a very good martial artist for someone who, in their later years, has studied it and really worked on it. But it is different than some of the people we hired who've been raised their whole life doing martial arts. So, the secret was, you put someone really good, like a Billy Blanks or one of those people next to him, and it's the way they take the hit that really makes Wesley look so great."
9. The original ending of the movie was very different.
Initially, the ending of Blade was going to see Frost (Stephen Dorff) literally turning into the blood god La Magra, which was essentially a swirling mass of blood. While that ending was shot, there were some on the creative team that new at the script stage it was a bad idea.
"Some of us knew it cause we read the script and said this isn't working," Edwards revealed. "But the studio didn't believe it, and it wasn't [until] we had shot the ending and they just felt it wasn't enough. You know, it really just didn't have enough oomph to it and Steve came up with a new version, and it cost a ton of money, and New Line supported it."
That new version is the now iconic sword fight between Blade and a possessed Frost. Thankfully, this is the version fans got to see.