How Marvel Should Reboot These 4 Movie Franchises

Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) $4 billion acquisition of Marvel in 2009 has turned out to be one of the wisest purchases the media conglomerate has ever made.

To date, the three Marvel movies distributed by Disney -- Iron Man 3, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World -- have generated combined global box office sales of $3.3 billion. Upcoming movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a rumored solo Hulk film will help the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue growing.

Back in April and May, Disney reacquired (Editor's note: not "bought back") the rights to Daredevil, Blade, Punisher, and Ghost Rider from Fox (NASDAQ: FOX  ) , Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) , Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF  ) , and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) New Line Cinema, greatly expanding the comic book roster in Disney and Marvel's new movie universe.

Blade, Punisher, Daredevil, and Ghost Rider return to Disney/Marvel. Source: Comicbookmovie.com

Although Sony still retains the movie rights to Spider-Man, and Fox retains the rights to Wolverine and The Fantastic Four, adding these new additional characters to Disney's version of the Marvel Universe could yield some fantastic results, if done correctly.

A look back at past box office successes and critical failures

In the past, Marvel films featuring Daredevil, Blade, Punisher, and Ghost Rider were mostly commercial successes, but they haven't fared well with critics.

Film (Year)

Production Budget

Global Box Office

Rotten Tomatoes Rating

Daredevil (2003)

$78 million

$179 million

45%

Elektra (2005)

$43 million

$57 million

10%

Blade (1998)

N/A

$131 million

55%

Blade II (2002)

$54 million

$155 million

59%

Blade Trinity (2004)

$65 million

$129 million

26%

The Punisher (2004)

$33 million

$55 million

29%

Punisher: War Zone (2008)

$35 million

$10 million

27%

Ghost Rider (2007)

$110 million

$229 million

26%

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

$57 million

$133 million

17%

Sources: Boxofficemojo.com, Rotten Tomatoes.

The main problem with these films, produced by three different studios with various creative teams, was that they lacked the singular creative vision that Marvel and Disney created with the current Avengers-centered film universe.

Therefore, as these four characters are brought back into Marvel and Disney's film universe, let's see how they should be rebooted and integrated with the rest of the Avengers.

Reboots #1 and #2: Daredevil and Punisher

I think the original Daredevil starring Ben Affleck wasn't a horrible film -- it just failed to live up to the high expectations set by Sam Raimi's critically acclaimed Spider-Man, which was released the previous year. It also didn't help that Daredevil tried too hard to replicate Spider-Man's rooftop plunges and pile on Matrix-like flourishes in its fight scenes, which detracted from the film's paper-thin plot.

The screenplay and casting of the original film were also problematic. Ben Affleck was a passable Matt Murdock, but Jennifer Garner was woefully miscast as Elektra. Garner was apparently chosen for the role due to previous work on Alias, but her petite frame and girl next door look simply didn't fit the character, who was taller, tougher, and Greek.

Meanwhile, the previous two Punisher films (excluding the hilariously awful 1989 film with Dolph Lundgren) failed to find an audience for the same reason -- they start out the Punisher story with Frank Castle as the violent hero, avenging the Mafia murders of his family by declaring a one-man war on organized crime Death Wish style. They both ignore the fact that the Punisher was originally created as a Spider-Man villain in 1974.

Since Spider-Man still belongs to Sony, a logical step would be to introduce the Punisher as the primary villain in a Daredevil reboot. In the comics, Daredevil has clashed with the Punisher before, most notably in the "Means & Ends" storyline in which Daredevil takes issues with the Punisher's brutal brand of justice.

"Means and Ends". Source: Marvel. 

It would be a great setup for an uneasy alliance between two characters with dramatically different philosophies, and also a way to lead into SHIELD's involvement -- since both Daredevil and Punisher would make great companion characters to Hawkeye and Black Widow.

Last but not least, Marvel should hire Frank Miller, the legendary comic book writer and artist who single-handedly revived Daredevil in the early 1980s, as the screenwriter. Although Miller has a mixed record with screenplays -- Robocop 2 and Robocop 3 were definitely not high points in his career -- he knows exactly how Daredevil should be written. It would be a move as clever as hiring Joss Whedon to pen and direct The Avengers.

Reboots #3 and #4: Blade and Ghost Rider

Meanwhile, Blade would be an easy character to reboot, since his story actually becomes intertwined with SHIELD's in the comics.

Rather than rely on a retired vampire hunter for guidance, as Wesley Snipes' Blade did in the original trilogy, it's likely that he will be saved and recruited by SHIELD, which will equip him with plenty of cool undead-killing toys to add some more fun to the mayhem.

And "fun" is a word that Blade definitely needs -- the original trilogy, for the most part, was a glum affair filled with Matrix/Underworld CGI flourishes that took itself far too seriously. A new take on the character, which mixes some old James Bond gadgetry magic with vampire-killing swordplay, would definitely breathe new life into the franchise.

Source: Enigmasmovies.com

Ghost Rider, however, will be a tougher film to reboot. The franchise has arguably been tarnished by Nick Cage's over-the-top theatrics and some epilepsy-inducing direction from Neveldine & Taylor in the second film, so Marvel will have to consider a serious reboot of the character to make it fit back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Instead of sending him back to the big screen immediately, I think that Ghost Rider should be reintroduced into ABC's Marvel's Agents of SHIELD as a villain. As a reader pointed out in my previous article on SHIELD, the show could benefit from introducing recognizable CGI Marvel characters from the films, rather than rely on cameo appearances from the big-name actors.

Since Ghost Rider's head is usually engulfed in flames, he could make an interesting adversary for the SHIELD team to track down, and be a big improvement over some of the dull, cheesy villains that we've been seeing on the show. From there, it could just be a few steps back up for Ghost Rider to rejoin the continuous TV and movie universe that Marvel and Disney are building.

A final thought

Marvel obviously reacquired these four characters with an intent to reboot them somehow. For now, it's all speculation, but it will be interesting to see how Marvel and Disney plan to expand their vision of a seamless Marvel Cinematic Universe by integrating these characters.

Will Marvel's TV and movie universe eventually become as huge as its comic book one? I look forward to hearing your thoughts, dear readers. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Read/Post Comments (21) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 2:23 PM, IAWhovian wrote:

    It was my understanding that they are using Netflix as a vehicle to relaunch Daredevil. Hopefully it will propel it onto the big screen again. I think the Netflix series idea is great. If you look at how well Netflix specific series have faired (Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, etc...) I definitely see this kind of thing happening more in the future.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/entertainment/report-marvel-teams-up...

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 2:39 PM, sonicview wrote:

    what is a shame for fans is that the various movie studios can't work together to bring these characters to life. Let Marvel create the Fantastic Four film and Fox films can distribute it. They can split the cost and profits. The people who have the rights to these characters shouldn't allow themselves to suffer from the arrogant thought that they can make a better movie with Marvel characters than Marvel can.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 2:53 PM, gr33d007 wrote:

    3 out of 4 of those pictured above should be remade and I wholeheartedly accept the article's notion for them to be rebooted into the present marvel film universe, EXCEPT BLADE because Blade did just fine as a story and really does not have to be rebooted, same actor, same universe, should fit just fine into the present marvel film universe. I don't see any reason why Blade should be listed unless it is because of the deeper role behind the character known as Frost in the Blade films, in the comics Frost is a scientist searching for immortality and thus becomes a vampire, in the films he already is a vampire trying to become a vampire god. Marvel could even just say that the Frost from Blade 1 is the doppelganger Frost that was mentioned in the Blade comics, they could just bring out another Deacon Frost and have that be the new villain in the next Blade flick. I personally don't see any reason to reboot Blade and its because its not like Marvel or New Line Cinema completely effed up on the series.....well okay they did sort of leave out that he was raised by prostitutes, then joined a gang, then became a vampire hunter, and well yeah okay so the origin came out wrong but I don't think it would make too much of a difference, would we rather stick with the image of young Eric Brooks being found by Whistler whilst gnawing on a victim or should Marvel remake it with him being a gangbanger raised by prostitutes who then becomes a vampire hunter? I personally, prefer the first.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 2:57 PM, gr33d007 wrote:

    I do also think that Blade could be less serious as well. That was one of its sad flaws as an action film

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 4:08 PM, lexilanipapi wrote:

    I think of the 4 movies Ghostrider has the chance to have the biggest comeback ... with the success of Sons of Anarchy exploding all over the motorcycle world there are comic fans and bikers longing to see the movie or even better a TV series do him right. Personally i would love to see a TV series over a movie because the Ghostrider story is so deep and filled with the constant battle of regret, darkness and vengence in one man it cannot be done right in a movie but regardless with disney at the helm and the seeing what they did with pirates - sky is the limit

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 5:05 PM, twist58 wrote:

    I think Ghost Rider, The Punisher, and Blade should be left untouched. Daredevil must be rebooted if necessary (and I know - since it's not listed - Fantastic Four is being rebooted as well, which it seriously needed).

    Nick Cage did fine with Ghost Rider, he just needed it to be explored more further (deeper in his character Johnny's angst and adjusting the storyline). Punisher? Thomas Jane's portrayal was great, the story was lackluster was all. And finally, Blade? Wesley Snipes already made the character what he is, so it should continue the storyline (ignoring "Trinity") albeit, toned down on the level of violence and a better story.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 5:18 PM, qthomas1 wrote:

    First off Blade was not the one to play with. He was a serious comic book character. So for Disney to make a comical type movie would totally destroy the essence of the character. and second the first one was rated R and needs to stay that way. But we all know how Disney mess up a movie (iron man2,3) two being the worst.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 5:21 PM, qthomas1 wrote:

    Blade was the best Marvel movie to date and that was 15 years ago. Sorry calling a spade a spade. Rated R make the best action movies

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 5:44 PM, kdowning wrote:

    A lot of what was said was right on the money. Nick Cage acting was very much over to top. And Ghost Rider needs a reboot big time.I find it hard to see Blade without Snipes.I'm open to anything new with daredevil other than with Affleck.Punisher was a better film than some think. Just not the lungren version. Thomas Jane made a great Punisher , and the Dirty Laundry short was great with him.The War zone Punisher was good and the actor was also cause he looked like one of the versions of the Punisher from the comics. I don't think anyone knows the real look of the characters more than marvel. I am looking forward to many more movies made from the comics.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 7:07 PM, NoPrize wrote:

    I love your Daredevil/Punisher idea. The question is, does Frank Miller still have *it*. His last few projects have been pretty off so I think the studios might be better off just adapting one of his earlier 80s creations.

    Since Daredevil will be coming to Netflix, what I'd like to see is a courtroom drama featuring Matt Murdock, with a little bit of Daredevil. Anyone remember the short-lived 70s Spider-man TV series? I loved the idea of a show revolving around the person - I've always thought, if these heroes were real, they wouldn't be parading around in costume 24/7.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 7:08 PM, SuntanIronMan wrote:

    I agree with twist58 about Nicolas Cage's performance in Ghost Rider.

    If you are going to play the part of a flaming skeleton from hell who rides a Harley-Davidson/Yamaha V-Max to fight evil, you need to be over the top with the performance. This is no time to play the part seriously! Haha.

    The whole concept of the Ghost Rider is so absurd. Not that other super hero concepts are sensible, but the concept of the Ghost Rider takes absurdity to a new level. Nick Cage's... Nick Cage-iness... was prefect for the movie.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 7:17 PM, mikejames573 wrote:

    On these 4 characters I hope they do the right thing with the Punisher. I love the character and the dark direction they could take him so that we dont have to always see a pg13 marvel movie. Same for Blade as well. Daredevil and Ghost rider I really dont care about unless they made a old west ghost rider movie. Not sure if they will ever do it but I always hoped they would remake Spawn and do it right. Todays special effects should make that so much easier to do. As you can see I want more of the rated R marvel movies. I do know Todd Mcfarlene owns spawn before anyone jumps on my case.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 7:38 PM, SuntanIronMan wrote:

    Adding to my previous comment.

    I'm not sure Ghost Rider will ever work well on screen (as a character who can carry an entire movie by himself). Good comic book character. But not every good comic book character makes for a good movie character.

    I do like the idea of having him as a character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I'm not exactly sure how that would work since they are fairly down to Earth with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe (well... as down to Earth as you can be in in movie universe with super heroes). Not sure how a skeleton from hell will fit into the that particular universe, but I wouldn't mind seeing them attempt it.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 9:47 PM, WarriorDL wrote:

    Hey, thanks for the CGI characters reference. That was me that suggested it (The Hulk).

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 9:46 AM, Baalzebul wrote:

    Good ideas on the majority, save Ghost Rider. Thanks to Cage's antics, there is no saving it. A better idea would be to make use of the old west story arc, "Trail of tears." (all the more if they can get Sam Elliot to take part, preferably as The Rider...)

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 11:57 AM, BriGeek wrote:

    If they play it right, they can get lesser known actors for these reboots, and start all of them of with the TV show. This allows the show some big name characters without the big prices, and also builds the audience for the movies. It's a win for both.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 1:45 PM, plmrelm wrote:

    There was an old story that included both Blade and Ghost Rider - Midnight Massacre was a five part crossover that included lots of 'darker' characters: Blaze, Morbius, and the rest of the Nightstalkers. That series would make a great adaptation and reintroduce these two (and allow for some 'minor' characters an appearance).

    I would agree with the Daredevil/Punisher crossover mentioned above as well.

    Any of these characters could show up in Agents of Shield to further strengthen that show and the universe altogether.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 5:55 PM, sigurdjarlson wrote:

    Blade was one of the best Marvel movies ever made. Fight scenes were outstanding; well choreographed and are still better than some of the action movies that came years after it. Wesley Snipes did a great job as the quasi-vampire fighting the thirst for human blood. The movie stood well on its own, unfortunately the sequels did not.

    I think the Punisher has run its course much like the Hulk. How many time can you reboot a franchise until you realize there just isn't a market for its story line? Ghost Rider seemed like a good idea but again, just like Punisher does not have a solid back story. These movies are better off in supporting roles.

    Daredevil has a similar story line as DC's Batman. For a re-boot to succeed the screenplay must be character-driven. The first movie was cluttered; too many personalities took away the focus on Daredevil.

    I think Marvel should focus more on developing new franchises that have potential tie-ups to existing ones. Iron Fist has huge potential given the large fan base of the character, the resurgence of interest in the martial arts due to the UFC and other MMA organizations and that Iron Fist can tie in with Luke Cage, SHIELD or the Avengers.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 11:24 AM, TMFSunLion wrote:

    Thanks for all the replies.

    I think the original Blade was an okay movie, but the sequels really weren't that great.

    I just think that Blade and Punisher teaming up with Hawkeye and Black Widow could be a wicked new movie franchise on its own, without the need for the "big 4" Avengers.

    Ghost Rider could work on SHIELD, since there was already that insane episode about the guy trapped between "Hell" (probably another dimension") and Earth.

    Besides, Ghost Rider is good material for Coulson to spew out more dry one liners.

    @NoPrize -- true, Frank Miller can be erratic. He once suggested that they reboot Batman so that Bruce Wayne and Alfred be auto mechanics instead:

    http://klockworkkugler.com/2010/10/20/what-could-have-been-d...

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 11:41 AM, yourmama1 wrote:

    I would have to agree with parts of some of the comments made like “2 out of 4 of those pictured above should be remade and I wholeheartedly accept the article's notion for them to be rebooted into the present marvel film universe, EXCEPT BLADE because Blade did just fine as a story and really does not have to be rebooted, same actor, same universe, should fit just fine into the present marvel film universe.” Blade should remain serious because that gives its appeal. Vampire hunting is a serious issue that must be dealt with. Just ask Bram Stokers Dracula. Blade should be left untouched. I would also have to agree that “Blade was not the one to play with. He was a serious comic book character. So for Disney to make a comical type movie would totally destroy the essence of the character.” I also find it hard to see Blade without Snipes. Blade was one of the best Marvel movies ever made. The fight scenes were great; well-choreographed and are still better than some of the action movies that came years after it.

    I think as a story line they could bring in Morbius the Living Vampire, actually a scientist named Dr. Michael Morbius Ph.D., and Queen of the Damned; Akasha, the Queen of and first vampire. To join together along with a few werewolf’s “as stated that could have been an alternate ending to blade Trinity.” To battle against Blade (Snipes), Dr. Karen Jenson (N'Bushe Wright) because they never stated what happen to her in blade 2, Also the black guy that blade meet in the store that handed him a bottle with essence of garlic written on it; as he hugged him, Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel), Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds), Ray Cumberland (James Remar), Christopher Heyerdahl (Caulder), The other black actor agent Wilson, Michael Rawlins “I think”.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 12:12 AM, bryanblade wrote:

    If there's gonna be a reboot of the Punisher, Thomas Jane MUST be in it. The man was born to play Punisher, just like Robert Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark, aka iron Man.

    As for Blade, Wesley Snipes did an excellent job, but if there really is gonna be a reboot, the actor must be one hell of a kung fu action pack star, may it be either Wesley Snipes again or Michael jai White

    Nicholas Cage seems to portray an older version of Johnny Cage, but the villains are the part that bothered me, Blackheart in Ghostrider 1 was a joke, where is the 9 feeet tall Blackheart demon with long spiky hair and red eyes? And all i get is a demon in human form?Cmon, Marvel, you can do better than that, If you can make the hero right, get the villains right as well, I see some development potential in Ghostrider movies, mystical villains like Nightmare, Mephisto, Zadkiel and Centurios ? We want the big bad boys on the screen too, and portray them as who they really are, not in some lame human forms. It would be even better if Daimon hellstrom was added into it, since he's a long time friend and ally to Ghostrider, they know each other very well.

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