ALWAYS BET ON WESLEY
Everywhere I look these days I see people referring to Black Panther as “the first mainstream black superhero movie”. Has everyone forgotten the Blade trilogy featuring Wesley Snipes? I am aware he isn’t a mutant, although some could argue he sort of is a mutated vampire. He is definitely a comic-book hero though — others may say anti-hero, but then if we categorise who is what in these movies, should we stop calling them ‘superhero’ movies altogether? Superman is an alien, Batman is a rich ninja-detective, Spider-man an infected school kid, the X-men are mutants, Captain America a soldier science experiment, Thor a god etc. Everyone has their thing. Does that mean Blade, who protects people and kills monsters, is not a superhero? Let’s not also forget Blade was the first movie to have the Marvel Studios logo at the beginning of the movie. I hear Wesley Snipes was also in talks with Marvel to originally play Black Panther too. I think some reviewers need to think back to the good old days, respect those flicks for what they were and retract the Black Panther comments. Punchy headlines only have real punch if they are in fact true.
ADAM KNIGHT, VIA EMAIL
Very good point, Adam — we definitely think Blade deserves the (non-wakandan) crown as the first ever black superhero movie. Although, a quick Google also turns up some other results: the comedies The Meteor Man (1993) and Blankman (1994), plus 1997’s Steel (with Shaquille O’neal) and Spawn. And is it possible Will Smith’s Hancock (2008) makes the grade? Over to you guys…
Above: Blade is cut. Left: an Empire-ised Man-cave.