Daredevil could be on its way back to Marvel Studios after many years at 20th Century Fox.
The comics property had been in very active development at Fox, which was fast-tracking a project with Joe Carnahan directing based on the blind superhero’s acclaimed Born Again storyline, a gritty crime saga written by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
Fox has licensed the character and his “universe” from Marvel (it released a 2003 adaptation starring Ben Affleck), but under the terms of the deal, it has to put a movie into production by early October. Earlier this summer, the studio lost director David Slade and quickly brought on Carnahan, who helmed The A-Team for Fox. The studio already has asked for and received two deadline extensions from Marvel.
Now sources say that the license will expire this week, something Carnahan referenced Monday in a tweet: “Think my idea for a certain retro, red-suited, Serpico-styled superhero went up in smoke today kids.” He then added, “We shall see. Time is NOT on anyone’s side.”
If the character does swing back to Marvel, it will be the latest hero to come home. The company historically licensed out its characters and in the late 1990s made a series of deals that have enriched studios across Hollywood. Fox snagged the X-Men line as well as the Fantastic Four and Daredevil universes.
With the subsequent creation of Marvel Studios, the company began a slow and quiet process of reacquiring its library. Iron Man came from New Line, for example, and Hulk was returned from Universal.
More recently, Marvel welcomed Blade back from New Line, which made a trilogy starring Wesley Snipes as well as a TV series.
While Daredevil returning to Marvel might be good for the company, a question remains whether it’s good for the character, who found renown when he became a gritty streetfighter and fighter of vigilantes and assassins. Marvel is now owned by Disney, which is seeking to exploit the characters within the bounds of the Disney image.
The Born Again storyline, by contrast, saw a longtime character become a porn actress and junkie, and the hero was pushed to the edge of madness. Both these character traits would be seem to be unbecoming of a Disney adaptation. Perhaps Disney will bring back the Stilt-Man and the Owl.
Watch Carnahan’s Daredevil sizzle reels below.