“Real Filmmakers” Don’t Work for Marvel, Says Popular Director

in Entertainment, Marvel

blade-wesley-snipes

Credit: New Line Cinema

Marvel Studios has been making headlines recently, and hardly any of them have been positive. Now, following a damning exposé that detailed the behind-the-scenes chaos at the entertainment giant, the director of Menace II Society (1993) had an MCU-related insult of his own, saying he shut down an offer to direct the upcoming Blade (2025) reboot for a, debatably, unfair reason.

Blade Marvel
Credit: New Line Cinema

Related: Marvel Goes Too Far, Mahershala Ali’s ‘Blade’ Aims to Create A Bolder MCU

Hopes were high when Marvel first announced that an MCU Blade reboot was in development at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2019. But years later, on the anniversary of what should’ve been its 2023 premiere, the movie’s prospects are looking more grim than ever.

The new Blade movie stars Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali, along with A-listers like Mia Goth, Delroy Lindo, and Aaron Pierre, all of whom have joined in unknown roles. Marvel initially tapped Bassam Tariq to lead the project, though the film hit a major snag when he decided to part ways with his MCU gig. Now, after some amount of delay, it has been confirmed that Blade will be moving forward with Yann Demange at the helm.

Mahershala Ali with Kevin Feige when Blade was announced
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Admits Defeat, Announces New Version of the MCU

Wesley Snipes’ Blade franchise has accumulated a sort of cult following over the years, having famously played Eric Brooks in three movies starting in the late 1990s, finishing with the 2004 flop Blade: Trinity. Although the vampire slasher flicks didn’t exactly win the hearts of critics, fans still continued to rally for the character, but as the reboot inches closer to reality, the Daywalker’s return has already faced obstacles.

For one, the new Blade movie aimed to begin filming in Summer 2023 as the final movie of Phase Five, according to Marvel President Kevin Feige, but was postponed due to the WGA strike that commenced on May 2. Some Marvel productions, including Deadpool 3 (2024), continued filming in the meantime; however, they were additionally paused when SAG-AFTRA began striking on July 14.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool scaling a wall in 'Deadpool'
Credit: 20th Century Studios

As the strikes are currently ongoing, it’s unclear when Blade might begin filming ahead of its, now, 2025 release window. But after severe delays, on top of Marvel Studios entering full-on crisis mode following numerous box office flops, some are starting to wonder if production will ever begin at all or if the project will end up shelved.

Either way, many strong opinions are circulating around the new Blade movie, but perhaps none are as cut-throat as seasoned filmmaker Albert Hughes, who co-directed projects like From Hell (2001) and The Book of Eli (2010) with his brother, Allen Hughes.

You see, Hughes recently appeared on an episode of Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, where he revealed that he was in talks to direct both the Disney+ Secret Invasion miniseries and Blade but ultimately decided that he wasn’t the right man for the job.

Nick Fury shocked in Marvel's 'Secret Invasion'
Credit: Marvel Studios

When explaining his reasons for passing up what many aspiring filmmakers consider to be the golden ticket into Hollywood, Hughes admitted to feeling “uncomfortable” with the idea of working under Marvel’s “system,” which he broke down into the studio’s box office numbers, title scores, and VFX rankings before eventually coming to an informed decision:

I’ve been in talks with the obvious studio about superhero movies a couple of times, but I always felt uncomfortable because I knew it was a system. And they’re very nice, and I went through a long process. In fact, I broke down all their movies and put them in a spreadsheet and broke down the box office, watching the title scores, where the VFX ranks, I had to do a deep dive on them.

Kevin Feige at D23 Expo
Credit: D23

Ultimately, Hughes came to the realization that he simply wouldn’t be able to work within the “controlled” boundaries of the Marvel Studios system, and said he “do[esn’t] understand” why any “real” filmmaker would even want to try:

And I got, halfway, not very close, halfway through the process, and I go, ‘No, I would implode from the kind of controlled nature of that world and not being able to do what I do.’ And I don’t understand why a real filmmaker would want to be in that system. I understand why up-and-comers would, which they do a good job of. finding people at the right time. But I think I would implode.

Hughes is far from the first director to criticize Marvel’s history of studio interference, which can greatly discourage prospective directors from signing onto projects like Blade. The MCU’s whole gimmick is creating a cohesive, interconnected universe, meaning most, if not all, of their film and TV releases have to have the same style, tone, and visual appearance. So, while some filmmakers have managed to add their own stylistic flourishes to the MCU projects they bring to the screen, it’s a rarity.

Blade Movie
Credit: New Line Cinema

Understandably, Hughes had some valid concerns about studio execs interfering with his vision for an MCU project, and didn’t want to be “poked and prodded” while trying to execute his version of the story. Because of this, Hughes “smelled it pretty early” and “had to quit that job,” whatever it was:

So if you’re getting hired for you, and what you do and what you bring, I’ve been in a situation more recently where I’m getting poked and prodded, and it’s like, ‘Oh, you don’t really want what I do. That was checking a box for them, and this is not going to work out. And it didn’t work out; I had to quit that job. I smelled it pretty early, and I said, ‘No, I’m not here for this.’

Although some might interpret Hughes’ remarks as a jab against the filmmakers who do decide to collaborate with Marvel, there’s undoubtedly a grain of truth to what he had to say about the studio’s “system,” which seems to be actively working against itself.

Marvel has a reputation for flip-flopping directors on nearly every project, especially their slate of Disney+ originals. And taking Hughes’ comments into consideration, it’s no wonder why. Unless a filmmaker has some sort of personal stake in the comic book franchise, needs their big break into the industry, or just needs a nice paycheck, Marvel doesn’t seem like the type of place where creative freedom is a priority, leading directors to run in the opposite direction.

Official Marvel Studios Blade Logo on a black background
Credit: Marvel Studios

Still, it’s important to note that the term “real filmmakers” is extremely subjective, as some directors simply might not’ve had the chance to grow their film and TV portfolios before signing onto a Marvel project.

It’s also worth mentioning that Oscar-winners, including Chloé Zhao, who helmed Eternals (2021), Sam Raimi, who brought back Spider-Men both new and old for Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and Taika Waititi, who’s credited with reinvigorating interest in the Thor franchise with Thor: Ragnarok (2017), are all considered at the top of their field — and still decided to work with Marvel.

After last week’s scathing Variety report, however, Hughes is probably counting his blessings that he didn’t sign on to helm Blade given the circumstances. Only time will tell how everything unfolds leading up to the film’s release, and if there might be a bit more truth to Hughes’ warning to prospective MCU directors than you might think.

Blade is currently slated to arrive in theaters on February 14, 2025.

Do you agree with Albert Hughes’ analysis of Marvel Studios? Did he make the right move by not signing onto Blade and Secret Invasion? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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