The History of FOX/Marvel; Chapter 3: The DareDevil Rejects
Believe it or not, there was a time where FOX actually gave back the rights for a CBM back to Marvel because they knew they couldn't do the property right.
THE DAREDEVIL REJECTS
In 1964, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, along with Bill Everett, created DareDevil. A blind lawyer by day. A badass vigilante by night. At first, DareDevil was nowhere near as popular as the X-Men, or Spidey, or the F4. That's not to say he wasn't popular. It wasn't until the early 80s when (pre-insanity) Frank Miller got his hands on the man without fear and the character became more popular than ever. He even inspired some Ninja Turtle characters (Splinter's name is a parody of Stick). So making a DareDevil movie, espicially when the character was more popular than he ever was in years, made sense.
While the rights for X-Men & F4 were floating around since the 80s long enough for FOX to get their hands on them. However, FOX got the film rights for DareDevil around the same time they got the rights for other Marvel properties which had been in the hands of 50 other studios. In 1997, FOX had started their attempt to try and get the film rights from Marvel.
Despite already having the rights to two of their biggest names, Marvel didn't give the rights to FOX right away. This was because Marvel Comics was going through bankruptcy at the time. So instead, Marvel tried to sell the film rights for DareDevil to...
Remember that now.
In 1999, however, the deal didn't work out. Instead, Marvel made a deal with COLUMBIA PICTURES to make a DareDevil. They hired Chris Columbus to direct the movie and he co-wrote a script with Carlo Carlei. The script was then rewritten by Mark Steven Johnson. However, by 2000, Sony cancelled the project.
Later that year, New Regency bought the character and film rights from Marvel with FOX distributing the film. In 2001, they brought Johnson back to right the script, which was praised by Harry Knowles & Kevin Feige. The film was supposed to be rated "R" for nudity and violence. However, FOX cut it down to a "PG-13" because FOX wanted...
As for casting, Bullseye was actually supposed to be played by Ben Affleck, but he cast as DareDevil instead. Funny enough, the revese thing happend with Colin Farrell, who was supposed to play DareDevil, but got cast as Bullseye instead. Guy Pearce, Matt Damon, Vin Diesil, and Edward Norton were also considered for DareDevil. Meanwhile, for Elektra, FOX wanted Jessica Alba (ugh), Eliza Dushku, Rhona Mitra, Lucy Liu, Natalie Portman, Katie Holmes, Salma Heyek, or Penelope Cruz (And they considered EVEN MORE than this. I'm just listing the actresses I've heard of). Later, they (finally) cast the role with Jennifer Garner.
The film was finally released in Febuary 2003, and things didn't go as well as planned. They film was kind of a box office hit, as it just barely passed $100 million stateside. As for the critics, while the film didn't get TERRIBLE reviews, it still didn't get GOOD reviews. Some people didn't like it for the story, the protayals of Elektra and Bullseye, and the overuse of CGI (They even used CGI to make a rose. A freaking rose!). While others praised it for the darker tone, the action, and Michael Clarke Ducan's performance. Meanwhile, people were split on Affeck's DareDevil. Some loved him. Some hated him. But no one hated the movie more than Stan Lee and Ben Affleck. Stan Lee called the movie "tragic". Affleck, who was a HUGE DareDevil fan (he even went back and reread every comic with the character) claimed that they ruined the character.
However, the film was still a hit, and FOX saw a franchise in the film. But rather than make a sequel, they made a spin-off. Of who? The character who (SPOILER ALERT) died and no one liked...
So how do they bring back Elektra? It's stupid. And they do something that infuriated fans. You see, one of the complaints of the DareDevil was that they didn't bring in Stick, the guy who trained Matt Murdock, so we can all just assume DareDevil became a badass through magic. However, they brought him in for this, and the person he trained became an assassin. Yay!
Anyway, Mark Steven Johnson didn't return to direct or write the movie. For directing, FOX got Rob Bowman, the director of The X-Files movie (first one). For writing, FOX got Zak Penn (who would later write X-Men 3 & The Incredible Hulk), and TV writers Stu Zicherman & Raven Metzner.
Anyway, Jennifer Garner returned for the role, while Terrance Stamp (who FOX wanted for Magneto) was cast as Stick. One of the main characters of the movie is named Mark Miller, whose name is either a reference to DareDevil writer Frank Miller (just last name), or another comic book writer Mark Millar (though the last name is spelled differently). Ben Affleck makes a cameo as Matt Murdock, though it was cut due to the less-than-cheery reception for DareDevil. DareDevil's reception also caused the marketing people to promote the film as an X-Men spin-off.
When the film was released, it did EVEN WORSE than DareDevil. While that film got mixed reviews, this film was panned. While some thought that Garner did a decent job, everyone bashed the film saying it took itself too seriously. It didn't help either that the film was accused of having bad dialouge. The film was also a box-office bomb. Thus putting an end to FOX's DareDevil franchise.
As for what FOX did to the two films...
In 2004, FOX released a director'scut of DareDevil. Some people liked it for the bloodier violence and the Coolio subplot, while others said that wile this cut was better, the film was still a mess. They also critizied a deeted scene with Bullseye at an airport.
In 2006, Michael Clarke Duncan expressed interest in reprising his role as Wilson Fisk. However, later that year was around the time Ben Affleck said that the film sucked. Two years later, Jason Stathem said that he really wanted to play DareDevil (Stahem was rumoured to play Bullseye in the recent series, but he dropped out).
Later that year, FOX executive Tom Rothman mentioned that they were thinking very hard about rebooting DareDevil. In 2010, FOX & New Regency confirmed the rumours started by Rothman that they were rebooting DareDevil. They brought in Peter Cherin to produce and David Scarpa, the writer of The Last Castle, to script the film. The following year, 30 Days Of Night director, David Slade, was set to direct, but he dropped out a few months later. When Slade was directing, Brad Caleb Kane was set to rewrite the script. Unfortunatley, in 2012, Michael Clarke Duncan, who was considering reprising The Kingpin, passed away.
A moment of scilence for Mr. Duncan.
Anyway, later that year, it was announced that if there was no DareDevil sequel or reboot filming by October, the rights would go back to Marvel and Kevin Fiege. FOX tried to find a director to replace Slade. A-Team director Joe Carnahan got the job, but his idea of a 1970s-style film was enough to convince FOX that they needed some one else. But they decided not to find anyone else.
FOX gave up on the reboot (which is something they're not doin today with other franchises). They were prepared to give the rights to Marvel & Kevin Fiege, who had big plans for the man without fear.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention that Disney bought Marvel in 2009. Anyway, remember how I said that Disney was the first studio to try and get the rights to a DareDevil movie. Well, since Marvel Studios is now a division of Disney, then everything has come full circle. After all this time, Disney finally got the rights to a DareDevil movie.
However, instead of a movie, they made a Netflix series, as Fiege didn't want the movies to go dark. He made a deal with Netflix, to make an Avengers-style series (Defenders) with the same set-up. The first series they made was DareDevil with Charlie Cox.
This series was a huge went with everyone saying that what FOX got wrong, Fiege got right. The show is so good, that a second season with ELEKTRA.
Back to FOX, they weren't really upset over losing DareDevil. They still have the X-Men. However, as recently shown, there's one property (other than X-Men) that FOX won't let go of. And the final straw came in 2015. But before I can talk about 2015, I have to talk about what came before, back in 2005 and 2007.
TO BE CONTINUED...