At one point of time in Hollywood, an equal argument could have been made that either Denzel Washington or Wesley Snipes was the predominant, African-American male actor in Tinseltown. Fast forward approximately 25 years later to present-day and it's jarring to think about the vastly different trajectories that Washington and Snipe's career's have taken. One has gone on to accumulate Golden Globe and Academy Award statues while the other became somewhat of an afterthought, wallowing in a string of direct-to-DVD action films. Nevertheless, after a three-year stint in prison for tax evasion, Snipes could be poised for a resurgence, thanks to Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables 3. And who is Snipes looking to as an example for how to rebuild a career? Why none other than his US Marshals and One Night Stand co-star Robert Downey Jr. Said Snipes on the current superhero craze, "You know, if I would have understood the potential of… doing, or adapting comic book characters to feature films, and also the tie-in to gaming and digital technology, when I was doing the first Blade films, then I’d be in a different business right now. I’d be in a whole different ball game." Snipes continued, "Well, I still would have done, the, er, you know… er, the dramatic work, and probably had a kind of cushion to do experimental work, because the economics in that kind of business are huge. There were empires and institutions that were built off the Blade franchise. I mean, look at Marvel now, to this day. It’s a megalith!" This is the model that many of the superhero actors we know and love such as Downey, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman and others currently utilize. Coined as the "One for them, one for me" approach, these actors use their superhero turns to create bank-ability and studio confidence which translates to leverage that's used to finance and produce smaller, and dramatically heavier indie projects.
When Snipes was working with Downey on 'Marshals' and 'Stand', it was at a time when Downey was in a downward spiral, fueled by drugs and alcohol and marked by brief rehab and jail stints. "He was walking through the fire. He was walkin’ on coals,” recounts Snipes But Wesely says that even at that time, Downey's talent was still undeniable. Looking at where Downey was back then and where he is now, Snipes is hopeful for a similar resurgence with his own career. Said the Blade actor on Downey's rise to the top of Tinseltown, "It’s an inspiration not just to me but to others, that you can go through hell and high water, and you can have ups and downs, but there’s always a brighter day. This too shall pass. And if you keep your skills together, you open and you create opportunities for yourself."
Perhaps Snipes can put in a call to his old friend Downey and together, spur Marvel let Snipes put on the black leather and dark shades for one more turn as the half-vampire, half-human superhero? Time will only tell but Eric Brooks fans around the world will surely be keeping their fingers crossed for Blade 4.
Wesley Snipes and Robert Downey Jr. in One Night Stand (1998).
Is there room for Blade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?