The 21st century has not been kind to Wesley Snipes.
Despite being groomed for super-stardom in the ’90s, and cast in hugely marketable studio vehicles like “Rising Sun,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Demolition Man” and “Passenger 57,” as of late he’s been convicted of tax evasion, stranded in DTV land and watched helplessly as his sole profitable franchise sidelined him and self-destructed.
I’m referring, of course, to the “Blade” series, which birthed two kick-ass entries in Stephen Norrington’s 1998 original and Guillermo del Toro’s even better “Blade II,” and then met a grisly, undignified end with the tedious and badly-written “Blade: Trinity,” which treated the titular vamp-hunter like a grouchy babysitter for Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds’ young ‘n hip Nightstalker characters.
Though the “Blade” name survived “Trinity’s” disappointing box-office performance long enough to inspire a lame Spike TV series starring the unappetizingly-named rapper Sticky Fingaz, the show’s cancellation after only 12 episodes did little to demonstrate for showbiz execs that the half-breed fanged one had any life blood left in him.
So, David S. Goyer, the writer and executive producer behind the franchise, moved on to bigger things and all was pretty much quiet — minus the ridiculous rumors of a Deacon Frost spin-off trilogy — in the “Blade”-verse.
While promoting the upcoming Antoine Fuqua cop thriller “Brooklyn’s Finest,” Snipes, responding to a query from JoBlo’s Arrow in the Head site regarding the potential for a fourth film, stated that “there has been some talk about a ‘Blade 4’ and that he would be interested if the script was right.”
But who exactly would spearhead the project? Goyer — who famously clashed with Snipes frequently throughout the production of “Blade: Trinity” — is up to his ears with a third “Batman” film, an “Invisible Man” reboot/sequel and, quite possibly, “Ghost Rider 2”).
My take? I suspect that we’ll see another “Blade” film in the next few years, albeit a reboot with a new cast. As awesome as Snipes was in the role — and make no mistake, he flat-out nailed it — the man is circling 50 years old and, unfortunately, while vampires don’t age, actors do. Blade is a seriously physical role (and, unlike Hellboy, much harder to mask with stunt doubles and CG) and it’s doubtful that New Line would want to greenlight another installment — six long years after the last detested entry — and not have further sequels in mind. There’s also the significant issue that there may still be bad blood between Snipes and the studio since he slammed them with a multi-million dollar lawsuit post-“Trinity.”
With that said, I’d still be thrilled to see Snipes have another crack at it. I just don’t feel optimistic about his chances.
A lot may hinge on how “Brooklyn’s Finest” performs and whether he gets any positive notices or work out of it. If he can find a way to become relevant and popular again, there’ll be no shortage of opportunities thrown his way. In the meantime, though, I wouldn’t hold your breath for a Snipes-starring “Blade 4.”
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.