Slowly, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is reuniting Marvel heroes under one roof. The latest to rejoin? Daredevil, a blind vigilante whose other senses are enhanced to a superhuman degree. Ben Affleck played the title character in a 2003 feature film that failed to meet heightened expectations.
Newsarama confirmed the shift in an interview with Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige earlier this week.
Efforts to reboot the franchise in later years failed for unspecified reasons. Finally, in October, News Corp.'s (NASDAQ:FOXA) 21st Century Fox returned the rights to Marvel Studios when a deal with would-be director Joe Carnahan fell through.
Here's a closer look at what might have been:
Now Disney is in control, and that's good news for shareholders who've seen what Marvel can do when it has creative control of its own properties. I'd love to see Carnahan make a noir film starring Daredevil -- something reminiscent of how writer-artist Frank Miller reinvented the character in the 1980s.
Miller gave DD a sharper edge. He also introduced the assassin Elektra as a love interest, subsequently played by Jennifer Garner in the 2003 film and a 2005 spinoff that bombed at the box office. The failures apparently made Fox executives gun-shy despite the source material.
How will Disney depict Daredevil? The comics contain dozens of rich storylines that could inform a script, but knowing Hollywood, a reboot seems most likely. For now, Feige will only confirm that Disney owns the rights, which is a step in the right direction given history.
Big parts of the Marvel Universe remain in outside hands. For example, Fox still has comprehensive film rights to the mutant heroes known as the X-Men as well as the Fantastic Four, a superhero family that's seen action twice on the big screen in recent years while helping to inspire the Pixar Studios hit The Incredibles.
Sony (NYSE:SNE), meanwhile, controls the rights to live-action Spider-Man films. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is filming now and due in U.S. theaters on May 2, 2014.
Daredevil isn't big enough to fill the void left by the X-Men, Spidey, and the FF. But then again, neither was Iron Man in 2008. Robert Downey Jr. has since made that character bigger than both Batman and Superman when it comes to big-screen earnings.
Does Disney have what it takes to transform Daredevil similarly? Finally, we'll get to find out.