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"This isn't a vampire story," declares producer Peter Frankfurt

"This isn't a vampire story," declares producer Peter Frankfurt.  "It's an introduction to a phenomenal action hero, the likes of which we've never seen on the screen before.  It's an encounter with a world audiences have never even imagined."

Blade was first introduced to comic book fans in 1973 as a supporting character in Marvel Comic's Tomb of Dracula.  Over the years, the character was built into a franchise culminating earlier this year when he teamed with Spider Man.

One of the first African-American comic book heroes, it was this distinctive characteristic which attracted the attention of Frankfurt.

The producer had just finished Juice when he had a chance conversation with the head of Marvel Films about the absence of black superheroes in the comics.  "A few days later I got a copy of the Blade comic book in the mail," Frankfurt said.  The producer, who wasn't much of a comic aficionado at the time, was immediately intrigued by the idea of bringing Blade to the screen.

"Blade appealed to me because he's not your typical hero.  He lives to kill vampires and exact vengeance," Frankfurt said.

"Blade has a dark side," confirms Executive Producer Stan Lee, who began his legendary career at Marvel in 1940 and is currently responsible for the company's movie, television and animation projects.

Frankfurt met with Lee and fellow Marvel executive Avi Arad, who suggested he contact Michael De Luca, president of production at New Line Cinema.  De Luca, who acquired and developed a number of hit film properties based on comic books, including The Mask and Spawn, was instantly receptive to Frankfurt's idea for a feature film based on Blade.  "Mike's reaction was a definitive 'Go,'" recalls the producer.

After acquiring the rights to the property, the filmmakers sought a writer who would connect with the complex, tormented superhero.  They demanded a writer who would have an entirely original interpretation of Blade's tough, gritty world.  Frankfurt and producer Bob Engelman were highly impressed with David S. Goyer, who had the right training and sensibility for the job.

Goyer wrote the martial arts packed, action adventure, Death Warrant, and the unearthly science fiction thriller The Crow: City of Angels.  The writer was hired to pen the script for Blade, and he produced a first draft eight weeks later.

Goyer shared the producers' vision of the material.  Blade had to have a completely fresh take on the vampire theme; it would defy all of the ordinary vampire clichés.  And the script Goyer delivered was anything but ordinary.

According to Stan Lee, who is often disappointed in film adaptations of comic books, Goyer's screenplay didn't miss a beat.  "He nailed it," proclaims Lee.  "This is a very, very scary script, with a surprise on every page.  The vampires are terrifying and fantastic at the same time.  You've never seen anything like this before, anywhere," warns the Marvel executive.

At New Line, De Luca was ecstatic.  Recalls Frankfurt, "Mike read the screenplay and said, 'This is an epic action film, and it needs an action superstar.'"  The producers realized their hero was inherently different from the vast majority of goody-two-shoes comic book characters; Blade wore combat boots and they would not be easy to fill.

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