Daredevil Comes Back to Marvel

Via Deadline, it looks like the rights to Daredevil are going to revert back to Marvel and to Disney after Fox killed an effort to reboot the franchise. The fact that the rights to certain key properties, including the blind Hell’s Kitchen lawyer, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men are held outside the company has always been one of the challenges to Marvel’s consolidation of its empire, and one of the reasons we saw a Spider-Man reboot this summer. Continuing to make use of the characters is the way outside companies keep their claim on Marvel characters live so the rights and the profits don’t revert back to Marvel and Disney.

I’ll be curious to see what, if anything, Marvel does with Daredevil. I’ve always thought the planned Marvel-ABC television show would be best off in a procedural format, both to lure in audiences who aren’t sold on superhero stories but are willing to test another lawyer, detective, or cop show, and to save money — if you can keep your hero in the office, courtroom, and street, you don’t have to invest quite as much in special effects and major action sequences. Daredevil, like She-Hulk, would be a fine contender for that kind of show, though I’d hope given the current Avengers lineup and Joss Whedon’s involvement with the television show, that they’ll choose a female character instead.

And I continue to think it would be smart of Marvel to develop a lower-budget, grittier run of hero movies, or a cable show that intersects them, a part of the market that’s open now that the adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’s Powers appears in limbo at FX. With Daredevil back in the fold, you could have an overlapping New York universe that includes him, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in Harlem, and Doctor Strange down in Greenwich Village. Marvel has always been woven deeply into the fabric of New York. The Avengers are disconnected by virtue of Tony Stark’s globetrotting, Bruce Banner’s time on the run, Black Widow’s missions, and the fact that Hawkeye and Captain America are buried in institutions. A lower-budget franchise, whether on the silver screen or the television, could root a separate set of characters deeply in a place, making their approaches and personalities facets of the city. That kind of storytelling always served the Law & Order franchise well, and with those shows cancelled or in their twilight years, there’s a place for a great new New York crime-solver, as well as for a different sort of superhero story.