Daredevil, the property based on the superhero, is on its way back into the arms of Marvel Studios after many years at Twentieth Century Fox.
The comics property had been in very active development at Fox, which had been fast-tracking a project that would have seen Joe Carnahan direct an adaptation based on the blind superhero’s acclaimed Born Again storyline, a gritty crime story by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
Under the terms it had licensed the character and his “universe” from Marvel, Fox had to have a movie in production by early October. In the summer it lost director David Slade and quickly brought on Carnahan, who directed The A-Team for the studio. That is after asking for, and receiving, two extensions from Marvel.
Now sources say that because Fox did not meet certain production timelines, the license will expire this week, something Carnahan inferred to when tweeted Monday “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, went through a round of setting up its heroes to companies big and small. Fox snagged the X-Men line as well as the Fantastic Four and Daredevil universes.
With the creation of Marvel Studios, the company began a slow and quiet process of reacquiring back its library. Iron Man came from New Line while Hulk came back from Universal, for example.
More recently, Marvel welcomed Blade back from New Line, which made a trilogy starring Wesley Snipes as well as a TV series.
While Daredevil being back at Marvel may be good for the company, the question remains whether it’s good for the character, who found reknown when he became a gritty street-fighter and fighter of vigilantes and assassins. Marvel is now owned by Disney, which is seeking to exploit the characters every which way it can but still within the bounds of a Disney image. The Born Again storyline saw a long-time character become a porn actress-junkie and the hero pushed to the edge of madness, both character traits that would be seem to be unbecoming of Disney adaptation. Perhaps Disney will bring back the Stilt-Man and the Owl.