Blade almost had a hugely different beginning and truly terrible ending
In a parallel universe, this movie went on to become something else entirely...
Close your eyes and imagine this.
LL Cool J as Blade.
Jet Li as Deacon Frost.
All directed by David Fincher.
Yep, they were all the first choices by the production company, and it is very different to even imagine what that might look like.
Thankfully, common fate intervened, as Jet Li decided to do Lethal Weapon 4 instead, Fincher went on to make Fight Club, and LL Cool J settled on Deep Blue Sea.
So the producers saw sense and offered the lead role to... Denzel Washington. And then Lawrence Fishburne. Pretty much every major black actor working in Hollywood at the time except for Wesley Snipes, who was busy working with Marvel on getting a Black Panther movie off the ground.
Yep, 20 years before it would eventually become a reality, Snipes was trying to bring King T'Challa to the big screen, and it was only once he sat down with the Blade's writer David S. Goyer (who would go on to write Batman Begins) and director Stephen Norrington (who would go on to... not have much of a career at all, really) that he was convinced the kung-fu ready vampire/hunter was a much better fit for his skills set.
Released on 21 August 1998, it predates the "grown-up" superhero movies like Logan and Deadpool by a few decades too, and it would seem that things were kicking off pretty well for Marvel's first official movie franchise...
Clip via Yoda
... but critics and audiences at the time clearly weren't fully ready for this kind of comic-book movie, as it scored only 45% on Metacritic, and made only $131 million at the worldwide box office.
However, it was such a huge hit once it arrived on home video, it did warrant the even better Blade II in 2002, and unfortunately, the franchise killer that was the truly diabolical Blade: Trinity in 2004.
Not that the first movie was without its problems, as the initial cut ran at a bum-numbing 140 minutes and early test screenings were met with some of the worst responses imaginable.
Some harsh cuts were made (the movie now runs at exactly 2 hours), but the biggest change came with the ending, and... when you see it, it makes total sense as to why that change was made.
If you can remember, Blade and the bad vampires - headed by Stephen Dorff - are in an ancient vampire temple, trying to bring forth La Magra (which actually translates into The Skinny Lady, but whatever), the vampire blood god.
The actual ending results in Dorff getting some vaguely increased powers, but the original ending featured him turning into a... how do we put this?... blood tornado? (Skip to the 8 minute mark in the video below to see it in all of its "glory")
Clip via 21Cinefilo
Yep, that is quite possibly the worst special effect sequence in the history of special effects, and when the first audience watched it in the early screenings, it was enough to have everyone watching convinced that they might be watching one of the worst movies ever made.
Thankfully, everyone involved had a good long rethink, and landed on the sword-fight we have now instead.
So there you have it: in a parallel universe out there somewhere, people watched the first Blade, starring LL Cool J fighting Jet Li as a blood tornado. There but for the grace of the blood god go we...
Blade is on tonight (Monday 12 November) at 10pm on ITV4.