Tariq’s departure comes as a shock, as production was set to begin in November on Marvel’s upcoming feature about the iconic comic book vampire slayer. The film is set to star Mahershala Ali in the title role, alongside a cast that includes Delroy Lindo and Aaron Pierre.
Although he will no longer be helming “Blade,” sources close to the situation state that Tariq will remain attached to the project as an executive producer.
The filmmaker was first confirmed as the director of “Blade” in summer 2021. He had previously helmed 2020’s rap drama “Mogul Mowgli,” starring Riz Ahmed.
“It’s been an honor working with the wonderful folks at Marvel. We were able to put together a killer cast and crew. Eager to see where the next director takes the film,” Tariq said in a statement, confirming his exit as director.
It remains unclear how Tariq’s departure could impact the production timeline for “Blade,” which is set for release on Nov. 3, 2023. Considering the carefully planned chronology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which sees events across various films and television series impact the storylines of subsequent entries, a substantial delay for “Blade” could potentially reshape Marvel Studios’ enormous slate of content in unforeseen ways.
Tariq is not the first director to exit a Marvel Studios film that has already completed a substantial pre-production timeline. “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson stepped down from helming its sequel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” four months ahead of filming. Sam Raimi later took over the project.
Additionally, Jon Watts, who has helmed the MCU’s three “Spider-Man” entries at Sony, exited as director of Disney’s upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot over the summer, though that project is eyeing a much further release date of Nov. 8, 2024.
“Blade” has been on the horizon for some time now. The project was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, with Ali making a surprise appearance at the conclusion of Marvel Studios’ Hall H presentation. The arrival was met with an uproarious response from fans, both in-person and online.
Ali has since made his MCU debut in the role — kind of. The actor’s voice can be heard in a post-credits scene of 2021’s “Eternals,” which features the vampire slayer speaking to Kit Harington’s character Dane Whitman.
The Hollywood Reporter was first to report news of Tariq’s exit as director.