On February 16th, Marvel’s first African superhero makes his solo debut on the big screen in Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the titular hero. The character of course first appeared on the big screen in Captain America: Civil War, but did you know he *almost* got his own movie in the ’90s?
In a fascinating piece over on THR today, Wesley Snipes recalled the never-told specifics on the aborted project, which at one point had John Singleton attached as director. Snipes was to star as T’Challa in that original iteration of Marvel’s Black Panther, fresh off his roles in New Jack City, White Men Can’t Jump and Demolition Man.
“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa,” Snipes told the site. “It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”
Of course, Marvel ended up pulling the plug on Black Panther back then, but the failure of the project directly paved the way for Snipes to nab the lead role in another Marvel Comics adaptation: 1998’s Blade, which is credited for kick-starting Marvel’s big screen success and itself paving the way for a new crop of comic book adaptations.
“It was a natural progression and a readjustment,” Snipes recalled to THR, speaking about the death of Black Panther and birth of Blade. “They both had nobility. They both were fighters. So I thought, hey, we can’t do the King of Wakanda and the Vibranium and the hidden kingdom in Africa, let’s do a black vampire.”
“Remember, during that time, Marvel was going through a liquidation and there were concerns that the whole company might fold,” Snipes went on to note. “And it is my understanding that [Blade] was a catalyst to its resurgence and the empire we see now.”
So will we ever see Snipes back as Blade? If he has his way!
“I am very much open to all of the possibilities,” Snipes says. “If Blade 4 comes along, that is a conversation we can have. And there are other characters in the Marvel universe that, if they want to invite me to play around with, I am with that too. I think the fans have a hunger for me to revision the Blade character, so that could limit where they could place me as another character in that universe.”