Publication: The Daywalker: Reading Blade as Genre Hybridity

Abstract:

Blade, from character to genre, is a study in hybridity. This paper will use contemporary genre theories to discuss how we approach the Blade films as part of the Marvel corpus, and how generic hybridity is personified by Blade himself. Blade simultaneously problematises and champions hybridity, exploring its complexities and successfully bridging a range of genres. From being a half-vampire vampire-hunter ‘daywalker,’ to his liminality as a black Marvel superhero, Blade himself challenges categorisations. His ‘daywalker’ status can be used as to model how Blade mythology draws from different generic narratives, allowing the hero to personify, develop, and subvert traditions through hybridity. Blade draws from a variety of notable genre traditions. He is an extreme development of the Western gunslinger and martial arts film’s samurai archetypes; as the border guardian between civilisation and savagery. Blade genetically bridges these borders as a vampire-human hybrid; especially when the late transgression of vampires into genres outside horror is considered. Wesley Snipes, playing Blade, supports this generic hybridity as a black martial artist/gunslinger hero, problematising categorisation. The resurgence of Marvel superheroes in cinema also pushes Blade into a liminal generic space: he is not wholly a superhero in the cinematic genre, but operates in the same comics universe. This paper seeks to situate Blade as a character and a mythology that thrives on hybridity, challenging and developing the many genres from which it draws.

‘The Daywalker: Reading Blade as Genre Hybridity,’ in Historical Essays on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, edited by Robert Moses Peaslee, Matt McEniry, and Robert G. Weiner (Jefferson: McFarland, 2016).

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