Marvel's Blade Writer Refutes Rumor Mahershala Ali Was "Fourth Lead" in Female-Led Reboot

Michael Starrbury says the vampire hunter was never "the fourth lead" despite reports the character was not the focus of Marvel Studios' Blade reboot.

A writer on Marvel StudiosBlade reboot is taking a wooden stake to rumors that the vampire hunter was to be "the fourth lead" in his first solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Variety reported that the twice-delayed reboot — which Marvel producer Kevin Feige announced at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2019 — "at one point morphed into a narrative led by women and filled with life lessons" and relegated Mahershala Ali's Blade to the background. And Ali, the two-time Oscar winner who called the studio and told Feige he wanted to be Blade, was reportedly "ready to exit" the turbulent production that has gone through two directors and at least five writers.

One of those writers, Michael Starrbury, has offered a comment amid speculation that Blade was to focus on Brielle Brooks, the half-human, half-vampire daughter of Blade

"I worked on a draft of this before the strike. Never saw a version where Blade was 4th lead or it was a 'narrative led by women and filled with life lessons' but I suppose a lot could have happened since I had anything to do with it. He was in 99% of the scripts I was a part of," Starrbury wrote on X (formerly Twitter). In a subsequent post, the Emmy-nominated When They See Us writer added: "Whatever is going on with Blade I'm hoping for the best. Some good folks are involved in that joint."

Starrbury then added that Ali's Blade "was in almost every scene" while he was on board the project. "I don't know what happened but I'll just say I seriously doubt he was ever the 4th lead in any draft."

Starrbury boarded Blade last November when Yann Demange (Lovecraft Country, White Boy Rick) replaced director Bassam Tariq (Mogul Mowgli). Deadline reported at the time that Marvel Studios was eyeing a "darker tone" on Blade "than other MCU projects have been in the past," though it was unclear if it would be as dark as the R-rated trilogy that starred Wesley Snipes.

Stacy Osei-Kuffour (HBO's Watchmen) was the first scribe hired on Blade. Tariq took another stab at the script, and Beau DeMayo (Marvel's Moon Knight, X-Men '97) turned in a draft before Starrbury was hired with Demange. In April, Marvel tapped Ali's True Detective writer Nic Pizzolato around the time that Blade cast X and Pearl star Mia Goth in an undisclosed role. According to Variety, Feige hired Emmy and Oscar-nominated writer Michael Green — whose credits include Fox's gritty, R-rated Logan and Blade Runner 2049 — to overhaul Blade and start from scratch. 

Blade is currently set to release on February 14, 2025.