‘Blade’ Director Bassam Tariq Exits Mahershala Ali-Starring Film, Marvel Pauses Production (UPDATE)

According to reports, the film was slated to begin shooting later this year. It wasn't immediately clear if Tariq's exit would have an effect on release plans.

Director Bassam Tariq is pictured at an event

Image via Getty/Andreas Rentz

Director Bassam Tariq is pictured at an event

UPDATED 10/11, 12:38 p.m. ET: Not only has director Bassam Tariq exited the new Blade with Mahershala Ali, but the film has also been hit with a formal pause.

That’s the word straight from the Hollywood Reporter, which wrote Tuesday that Marvel Studios decided to “take some extra time” by pausing the project, which was believed to be in the pre-production stage in the Atlanta area. For now, the alleged goal is to resume production by early next year.

Deadline added that Marvel’s Phase 6 release slate was just shaken up in a broader way, with Deadpool sliding back from Sept. 6, 2024 to Nov. 8, 2024, which had been Fantastic Four’s premiere date. Now that much-anticipated franchise-starter will hit Feb. 14, 2025. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty will still drop May 2, 2025, but its conclusion, Avengers: Secret Wars, shifted from Nov. 7, 2025 to May 5, 2026.

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Director Bassam Tariq has exited Marvel’s upcoming Blade film starring Mahershala Ali.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news on Tuesday night, it wasn’t immediately clear what kind of effect the director’s exit would have on the film’s planned November 2023 release date. Shooting was reported to have previously been on track to start up later this year in Atlanta, Georgia.

In a statement toTHR, a Marvel rep cited Tariq’s exit as being a result of “continued shifts” in the schedule. Tariq, who will still hold an executive producer title on the film, said he was “eager to see” where the next director takes the project. At the time of this writing, a new director had not been publicly announced. 

Last September, Tariq—then fresh off the U.S. release of his and Riz Ahmed’s Mogul Mowgli—shouted out the Wesley Snipes-led Blade trilogy for having gotten “this whole ball rolling.” He also touted the observable talent of writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour and star Mahershala Ali, whose extended assortment of acclaim includes two Oscars.

“A Black man created the superhero world that we’re in, that’s just the truth,” Tariq told IndieWire at the time.

Ali, meanwhile, said during a Breakfast Club interview last December that he was “humbled and so encouraged” by the public support he and the project had received from Snipes.

“It’s a lot of pressure, it’s a lot,” Ali, who previously entered the larger Marvel universe with his performance as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes in Netflix’s Luke Cage, said. “But, you know, other people have done it and survived and succeeded so I’m gonna try to set myself up to do the absolute best work I can do.”

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