With the announcement of a new Blade movie in production by Marvel Studios, I got super excited and recently re-watched the original trilogy starring Wesley Snipes. I thoroughly enjoyed the first and second film, and was reminded of why I didn't like the third. Despite the less then stellar ending to the trilogy, Blade has left a lasting impact on comic book films. With acclaimed actor, Mahershala Ali now set to play the title character, I was wondering what other enemies he may face off against. At the moment I could only name two enemies off the top of my head: Deacon Frost and Dracula. That's when it dawned on me... Blade doesn't have very many memorable enemies.
He has plenty of enemies to be sure, but not many that really stand out. Most of his story lines center around Dracula, which is cool and I'd love to see a proper comic to film adaptation of the character, but there are so few others that really come to mind. Many of the best and most popular heroes out there have a very memorable rouges gallery. Be it 5 or 15 or 50 if you are Batman. Heck sometimes the characters didn't even first appear in the comics. One such character is Harley Quinn. And that brings us the main point of this blog: One of Blades most memorable villains was never in the comics. He was created for film.
He was the carrier of the Reaper Virus. Patient Zero. Jared Nomak.
Introduced in Blade 2, released in 2002 and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Nomak as far as I can tell was a creative liberty taken for the film. I do not recall there ever being a character like him in the comics, which is a real bummer as Nomak was a great antagonist.
If by any chance you have not watched Blade and/or the sequels, there will be spoilers. So if you don't want to be spoiled, I'd recommend watching the movies first and then reading this article. Otherwise, if you do not care for spoilers then by all means keep reading.
Over the course of the film it is revealed that the Vampire Nation had been conducting experiments on the virus that causes vampirism. The goal was to create a new breed of vampires. Ones that would be immune to garlic and silver, and could even survive in the sunlight. Overlord of the Vampire Nation, Eli Damaskinos was so desperate to succeed, that he tested this strain on his own son. The results was something much more horrifying.
Dubbed the Reaper Strain, this virus turned Eli's son into a literal monster. While it did give him an immunity to garlic and silver, It would mutate his body and drive him mad with a unending thirst for blood. “Escaping” his incarceration, he would feed continuously through out the nights that he was free. Not just on humans, but on vampires as well. That is when something disturbing became apparent: the vampire victims don't die...they turn, they become Reaper's like him. Though there is a major difference as the virus appears to make all but Nomak into near mindless monsters.
Because he is a threat to all living creatures, the Vampire Nation, form an uneasy alliance with Blade. He is introduced to the Blood Pack, an elite group of highly trained vampires (who were trained initially to hunt him) and together they hunt down the Reapers. Realizing that the sun is the only exploitative weakness, they attack Nomak's underground layer at sunrise. This goes south however, resulting in the deaths of nearly every member. Afterwards the truth behind Nomak's mutation is revealed, with Eli betraying and capturing Blade, but before he could be dissected, Nomak arrives and attacks the compound. Many of the guards are slain and after Nomak kills his father, Blade and Nomak have their final confrontation, ending in Blade narrowly taking the victory.
Many view Nomak as a tragic villain, and rightfully so. With barely any control over his hunger, Nomak finds his very existence to be painful. Regarded as a failure by his father, Nomak has no one left in his life. This pain would grow into a hatred for vampires, his father in particular. All of this already makes for a decent antagonist, though I think there could be a little more to this character than just his tragic backstory.
What I love about Nomak, aside from his appearance, is what he could possibly represent as a character. When creating villains for a hero, there seems to be an unofficial rule of 3. What I mean by this is regardless of how many bad guys a hero has, there seems to be 3 major big ones that keep showing up, each filling in a particular niche. In no particular order, you have:
the villain who has ties to the heroes origin.
The circumstantial villain whose actions make things personal with the hero.
And finally you have the villain who is the dark reflection of the hero.
A good example of these would be Hulk villains such as General Ross, the Leader, and the Abomination. Now of course this isn't always the case, as two or all of these characteristics could be rolled into one character. It is just something I have noticed with comics regarding their villains.
Blade has Deacon Frost (Origin) and Dracula (circumstantial). This is where I feel Jared Nomak comes into play. I believe he could represent the dark reflection of Blade. When looking at how this character behaves and interacts over the course of the movie, there are not only important contrasting characteristics to Blade, but also interesting parallels that go hand in hand. From personality traits all the way down to their clothing.
Blade is clean and stylish. His black leather/armor outfit meshes well with his personality. The way he catches his sunglasses whenever they are thrown at him or how he adds a slight bit of humor to an asswhoopin' are just part of what makes him so iconic. Blade is a well trained and talented martial artist with a wide assortment of tools, a home to call his own, and friends (albeit, just a few). Nomak, on the other hand, has nothing. His clothes are tattered and filthy. While skilled in combat, his style appears unrefined. He lives in a sewer system surrounded by feral reapers. It seems as though he is everything Blade is not.
There are of course certain similarities such as the thirst. You might be thinking “Duh. Of course they have that similarity, they are vampires.” Why I bring it up is the context around it within the film. Blade uses a serum to subside this craving. Strapping himself into a chair, He injects it via syringe as he jerks around uncontrollably. Nyssa, a pure blooded vampire and Nomak's sister, witnesses this and brings it up later during an argument. Nomak was very much an addict. Upon attacking a drug dealer in a alley, He took a moment to savor the taste of this man's blood on a shard of glass he pulled out of him. Both have an intense craving, that they cannot get rid of.
Both also have a disdain for vampires as they wish to eliminate them from existence. Nomak even addresses this similarity twice. The difference being that Blade aims to protect humanity, while Nomak couldn't care less about them. They are a food source, nothing more. This is of course what puts Blade and Nomak on opposing paths. As mentioned before, Blade must work with the Vampire Nation to stop Nomak, and through this actually begins to develop respect for some of his allies, namely Nyssa.
This creates a sense of confusion within Blade, as there are times he goes out of his way specifically to save her when the situation turns sour. It is implied, through their interactions, that there may be more than just a mutual respect going on between them. Especially near the end of the film, when Blade tends to a dying Nyssa, cradling her like someone would a lover.
In fact, just to deviate real quick, the original script pushed this even further. Both fall in love before the final act of the film and there was even a sex scene.
Back on topic, I feel like all of this is important to both Nomak and Blade's characterizations. Consider this: Nomak thought he could find a potential ally in Blade, and tried to “reason” with him twice, believing that they both want and need the same thing. He would even spare Whistler's life only so that he could tell Blade the truth behind the Reaper virus. A short while later, Nomak witnesses Blade trying to save his sister in the sewers, after the UV bomb pack went off. Blade cuts his wrist so that a severely burnt and weak Nyssa may drink. Blade spots Nomak standing across from them and both lock eyes. It appears as though Nomak is visibly bewildered by what he is seeing. I like to think it is because who he thought Blade was, isn't who he really is. After all, vampires tell stories of Blade like the boogie man. A merciless killer, hellbent on wiping vampires off the face of the earth... And here he is, rescuing a vampire from almost certain death. This is the defining contrast between the characters. Nomak spared a life for personal gain. Blade saved a life out of genuine altruism. This is the moment he realized that an alliance was never a possibility.
Something else worth noting is that this isn't the first time, Nomak spared a life. When Blade and Nomak meet for the first time, Nomak held Nyssa captive. This was before either Blade or Nyssa learned of Nomak's true heritage. When re-watching this movie I happened to question why he would let her live. Blade also questions this, and Nyssa is left confused too. An obvious excuse is that they are family; however, Nomak hates all vampires and wishes to eradicate them. By the end of the film he kills his father and infects Nyssa with the reaper strain. So why let her live before? This could have very well been just a cheap way to keep the audience guessing and on their toes. I feel a comic book adaptation of these characters could really flesh this out. Imagine if Nomak, for a time, actually low-key held family in high regard, with his father being the only exception. But as his infection continues to drive him mad, he would forgo all moral values he once had.
Because of this, I feel that even Nyssa and those associated with her (her father, and the Blood Pack) would all make great additions to the comics. By adding in these characters, it could help expand the lore in many directions, and give lots of depth to Blade and Nomak in new ways. What I mean by this is they don't have to follow the movie 100%. Now I am not saying they should flat-out deviate from the source, as that would be a very bad idea. What they should do is alter certain things as to give a more fresh take.
What if Blade fought the Blood Pack long before teaming up with them to fight the Reapers? This could help establish each member as exceptionally deadly in their own right and add onto the tensions of such an uneasy alliance.
What if Blade and Nyssa's relationship actually turned intimate like in the original script? She could essentially be the Talia Al Ghul of the series, acting as an anti-hero in certain ways. Readers would get a chance to see a side of Blade that is rarely, if ever, seen.
What if Nyssa didn't die after Eli's death and became the new Overlord? This could be interesting, as it could give her a lot of depth. She could be split between her loyalties to her own kind and her love for Blade, causing a great amount of disarray. Thus the Vampire Nation could fragment into different groups, vying for control.
What If the Reapers grew into such a horrible threat, that Shield and the Avengers had to got involved? perhaps after killing Eli Damaskinos, Nomak sinks further down the rabbit hole, gorging himself on so many people that he has his own army. No longer able to contain the Reapers, Blade seeks help from Shield. We could see characters like Captain America, Spider-man or Wolverine face off against Nomak as he wages a war on the world.
This is all something I'd love to read. A chance to see them brought to the pages of Marvel Comics. Nomak would be a great addition to Blade's rouges gallery. What do you all think? Do you like Nomak and would you like to see him in Marvel comics? How would you do it? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts.