With Netflix finally letting people see some actual data about its users’ viewing habits this week, it was confirmed that Marvel’s Daredevil is indeed a very big hit. The show marks Marvel TV’s first foray into the non-network fold, and it’s a markedly different kind of series than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Agent Carter as a result. As you may recall, Marvel didn’t always own the rights to the Daredevil character. Up until very recently, 20th Century Fox had them, and when their option was close to lapsing, they tried a last-ditch effort to make a film with Joe Carnahan. His iteration sounded amazing (it would have taken place in the 1970s), but unfortunately it was too little too late—they couldn’t get it off the ground in time, and the rights went back to Marvel.
Once that happened, many speculated about what Marvel would do with the character. Would he get the chance to join the MCU on the big screen? Would they simply hold on to him for a while? Turns out neither happened, as Marvel instead decided to make Daredevil the foundation for its new Netflix universe.
However, one higher up at Marvel argued against bringing Daredevil to the small screen: Joss Whedon. After The Avengers, Whedon signed a contract with Marvel that not only set him as the writer and director of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but solidified him as a “creative consultant” on the studio’s Phase Two. Speaking with IGN, Whedon says he tried to convince the studio that Daredevil would work better as a movie:
“I fought for Daredevil to be a film instead of a TV show. Then under the auspices of Drew Goddard and Steve DeKnight… I’m dying to see the show but they released it just as I started the press tour!”
For his part, Whedon said he didn’t think the tone of Daredevil could be sustained in a television series:
“If the show’s working, the show’s working. Comic books are serialised entertainment and a lot of them lend themselves to TV shows as much or more than they do to movies… I like him because he’s basically Marvel’s Batman, thanks to Frank Miller basically. So for me I didn’t think they’d be able to sustain that sort of mood on TV but TV has changed so much. It’s come up so much that I think it might just be the right place.”
While I think the show is fine, I’m bummed we never got to see Carnahan’s hard boiled iteration on the big screen. However, since the Netflix series has a much more film-inclined aesthetic than Marvel’s ABC series, it seems highly likely that Charlie Cox’s character could make an easy transition to the big screen in the future. When and if that happens, I’ll be curious to see how the character’s darker tone translates to a feature film in the Marvel universe.