The original script by Stacy Osei-Kuffour was set in 1920s New Orleans and featured Blade joining forces with vampire hunters Nora Helsing, Taj Nital and Quincy Harker to rescue his young daughter Zora from a vampire cult led by Deacon Frost and Karl Von Stadt, who want to use Zora’s blood to turn themselves into Daywalkers like Blade. It was PG-13, the focus was on Blade and the hunters navigating the vampire underworld in search of Zora, and the final battle at the cult’s compound was the only major action setpiece.
Bassan Tariq was set to direct and revised the script with Beau DeMayo. Marvel cast Milan Ray as Zora, Delroy Lindo as Deacon Frost, Aaron Pierre as Karl Von Stadt, and Joshua Mikel as Leon, Blade’s vampire informant. They were already casting for Helsing and Nital, and eyeing A-listers such as Christoph Waltz and Hugh Grant for Harker when Tariq was fired due to creative conflicts with Mahershala Ali, who did not like the script and Tariq’s vision for the character as an older, jaded veteran.