It looks like Marvel Comics' "Man Without Fear," Daredevil could be the next character to brought to the big screen under the tent-pole of Marvel Studios' canon-consolidated cinema. Studio head, Kevin Feige reportedly confirmed that the film rights are now officially back in the Marvel Studios/Disney home stable with the likes of The Avengers and its spinoff films. This comes after years of being held by 20th Century Fox, who would make the 2003 Daredevil film with Ben Affleck and its 2005 spinoff, Elektra with Jennifer Garner.
Around this time last year, it looked like Fox was attempting to salvage their legal hold on the franchise by producing a reboot film, which, after a brief shuffle, was to be helmed by Smokin' Aces and The A-Team director, Joe Carnahan. Supposedly set to be a re-imagining of the blind lawyer vigilante's story set in the 1970's, carrying a gritty, Serpico-like edge, the film would have renewed Fox's claim to the film rights. However, the time in which they were allocated to get that project up and running passed last summer. They were surely weighing a number of factors; notably how their 2003 effort (and its spinoff) was a critical and financial failure, despite having big name stars in Ben Affleck, Collin Farrell, and Jennifer Garner. There was clearly some hesitance to commit to the project. Considering that we're in the middle of an unprecedented surge in the superhero film genre, that inertia speaks volumes on the project in question.
It takes the right kind of movie to reinvigorate a character's status. Something worth pondering is that before Marvel Studios' watershed 2008 film, the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man was pretty much on the same level of "B-List" popularity as Daredevil. (At least, to the mainstream, anyway.) -- Look what the right movie did for him. The latest report on the rights shift today was merely a formality for what was inevitable after Fox let the clock run out, pretty much conceding that "the right movie" (whether or not it was Carnahan's) was not within their risk/reward zone.
Now, Daredevil joins a list of recently jailbroken Marvel heroes such as The Punisher and Blade, who return home to the celluloid stewardship of Marvel Studios and its Disney backers. While no details have been discussed on what kind of projects could be on tap for those names, you can bet that the studio's current practice of meticulous long-term franchise planning means that SOMETHING is brewing. (Maybe for Phase Three or Four.)