Fox's Daredevil Reboot Movie That Never Happened, Explained - VRGyani News and Media

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Fox's Daredevil Reboot Movie That Never Happened, Explained

For future generations, the concept of all Marvel’s comic book characters not being under one cinematic banner will be an alien concept. Now that Marvel Cinematic Universe characters are showing up in projects like Morbius, the tendrils of Marvel Studios and its creative exploits have infiltrated all ongoing live-action adaptations of Marvel Comics characters. But indeed, there was a time where this phenomenon wasn’t just common, it was the norm. Before Marvel Studios released Iron Man in 2008, the typical route for the spandex-clad Marvel characters to get to the big screen was for other companies to secure the film rights to these figures.

This included Daredevil, who was, alongside the X-Men and Fantastic Four, handled by 20th Century Fox, which resulted in the 2003 film Daredevil. However, studios like Fox didn’t get to own the film rights to these characters forever. After a certain amount of time, the film rights would lapse back to Marvel Studios. This looming situation informed Fox’s approach to handling a potential reboot of Daredevil at the start of the 2010s that would eventually never see the light of day.

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Initially, after Daredevil, Fox wasn’t in a rush to make a sequel thanks to the movie doing fine but not extraordinary box office numbers. The dismal performance of spin-off Elektra, as well as the comparatively larger success of the X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, also helped ensure that Daredevil would be taking a backseat at the studio. Ben Affleck publicly saying in 2006 he’d never do a Daredevil sequel further cemented the fact that The Man Without Fear wasn’t returning to the big screen anytime soon. It’s easy to imagine a version of this story where Fox just quietly let the film rights lapse given how this character was on nobody’s radar.

But then Marvel Studios hit it out of the box office ballpark with Iron Man. Suddenly, the prospect of any studio letting the film rights of a character like Daredevil return to Marvel was exceedingly more ominous than they were before. Not surprisingly, then-head of 20th Century Fox said in an interview, just a few months after Iron Man launched, that the studio was actively pursuing a Daredevil reboot. Rothman offered no timetable for when this new Daredevil film would launch but he said The Incredible Hulk and Batman Begins gave him hope for what a superhero movie reboot could accomplish.

A new ticking clock was going off on the property and it was time for somebody new to come in to take a swing at making Daredevil work as a big-screen property.

It took until the dawn of 2011 for concrete steps to be taken on making this project a reality, with filmmaker David Slade, fresh off his work helming the blockbuster hit The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, getting hired to direct the project. Slade would later explain that his vision for Daredevil would’ve been “complex and exciting”. Slade’s prior non-Twilight directorial efforts like 30 Days of Night also indicate that the production would’ve been a dark affair. That would’ve fit right into the grim and gritty aesthetic that was dominating blockbuster cinema at the start of the 2010s. Slade would never get a chance to realize that “complex” vision thanks to him departing the project later in 2011, bringing this troubled production back to square one once again.

Interestingly, at the same time as this solo movie reboot was trying to get off the ground, Fox was hiring screenwriters to toil away at another blockbuster film that would include Daredevil. This was an untitled crossover event picture that would’ve involved all the Marvel Comics characters Fox had the film rights to at that moment in time. Written by Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller, the project could’ve been a major launchpad for a new revamped version of the character. Details that have leaked over the years have painted a picture of a Civil War-inspired melee between the X-Men and the Fantastic Four—the plot reportedly kicked off with The Human Torch accidentally going supernova in New York City—but it remains tantalizingly unclear what role Daredevil would've had in a movie fixated on mutants and Fantastic Four members duking it out.

While the ambitious production got far enough along for Fox to approach The Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass to helm the prospective blockbuster, it never came to fruition. The studio’s goals for superhero movies turned elsewhere, including relaunching the Fantastic Four as a solo film franchise rather than in a big team-up movie. Thus, this project became another dead end for how Fox could keep Daredevil under its roof. The deadline for when Marvel Studios would regain the film rights to Daredevil was now approaching fast, with Fox needing to get a movie to start principal photography by the end of August 2012 or else they’d permanently lose the film rights to Daredevil.

It was in these final months that Joe Carnahan, who previously directed The A-Team for 20th Century Fox, entered the picture. He had a distinct pitch for a Daredevil movie that would harken back to grimy thrillers of the 1970s and 1980s. In 2014, Carnahan went into more detail on the project by revealing that, initially, Fox just wanted him to direct a finished script that he found to be solid in the action department but lacking elsewhere. Carnahan then decided to pitch his vision for an entire trilogy of Daredevil movies, each with a distinct flair that would evoke classic genre fare. Here's what the filmmaker said about his unmade trilogy back in 2014:

“What people don’t realize about the DD project is that the producers of the film, got to me very late. They had a script that I read and I thought that while the action was wonderful, the story didn’t really have any additional bite. There was nothing I suggested a trilogy as follows. ‘Daredevil ‘73’ ‘Daredevil ‘79’ and ‘Daredevil ‘85’ where I was going to do a kind of ‘cultural libretto’ and make the music of those eras a kind of thematic arc.

So the first one would be Classic Rock, the second one would be Punk Rock and the third film would be ‘New Wave.’ The problem was, the option was almost set to lapse so we made an eleventh hour bid to Marvel to retain the rights for a bit longer so I could rework the script. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. Marvel wanted the rights back. I don’t blame them.”

However, this ambitious concept for a Daredevil movie wouldn’t have a chance to forward. Carnahan later noted that he was first pitched the idea of directing Daredevil just as the film rights to the character were about to return to Marvel Studios. Despite attempts to extend Fox’s options to the film rights, Daredevil quickly returned to Marvel Studios. This studio would quickly get a new Daredevil property in the works by making the character the centerpiece of its TV collaborations with Netflix.

The three seasons of Daredevil have spawned a sizeable fanbase, one that dwarfs the following for the 2003 movie Fox commissioned. Even with Charlie Cox’s version of Hornhead being a positively received creation, though, it’s impossible not to contemplate what might have been if Fox had gotten a reboot of the character right. After all, Fox excelled in the 2010s in making lower-budgeted grimier takes on superheroes like Deadpool and Logan. That sort of take on Daredevil from a filmmaker like Joe Carnahan could’ve been full of promise and had the potential to be more than just a way to ensure Marvel Studios didn’t regain the rights to this superhero.

KEEP READING: Grading Ben Affleck’s ‘Daredevil’ as a Valentine’s Day Date Movie



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