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Development Deal: Daredevil

by  in Comic News, TV News Comment

If there’s one thing that a quick look at the current state of television and movies will tell you, it’s that there’s not much need for original ideas when there’s so much out there ready and waiting to be adapted, updated or just outright ripped off. That’s why we’ve decided to help in that process with a series which offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? Daredevil.

What Is It?
A long-running series from Marvel Comics, Daredevil is a superhero who gained his super-powers (Essentially, heightened senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell) from the same accident that robbed him of his sight. More grounded than many of his Marvel superhero contemporaries, Daredevil has – through accident as much as intent – become more about smaller, more grounded crime and evil than, say, Spider-Man or Iron Man, with threats often as internal as external (Even Dardevil’s secret identity causes some level of internal conflict; Matt Murdock is an upright attorney who has dedicated his life to the law, even as he breaks it every night as a costumed vigilante)… although there are, of course, ninja clans who can resurrect the dead and vicious crime lords who think nothing of widescale destruction as long as it serves their ultimate purpose, as well. As you might have gathered from that short description, when done right Daredevil can be an astonishing read, but there’s a lot of potential for it to miss the mark, as well.

What Could It Be?
Yes, I know there’s been that forgettable Daredevil movie (First mistake? That costume. Second mistake? Almost everything else), but unlike other Marvel super-heroes, I suspect that Daredevil could be far more successful as an ongoing television series. Only a small amount of tinkering with what’s already on the page could turn the idea into a very easily made television show, especially if part of that tinkering does away with the bright red skintight costume aspect (Think Smallville‘s ability to do Superman stories or a version thereof without the costumes, if you’re that doubtful). The essence of Daredevil is something that could work on television, I think – the pressures of living a (contradictory) double life, mixed with the potential procedural aspect of the weekly crime and whatever “wacky” office hi-jinks you choose to add in Murdock’s work life feel to me as if they could be a potent, entirely acceptable for a mainstream audience who may otherwise reject genre television, combination.

If it were up to me, as opposed to Jeph Loeb and the other decision makers at Marvel Television, I’d skip the more famous Frank Miller version of the character in favor of the current incarnation, as written by Mark Waid; there’s something very compelling about the idea that Murdock has determined to be happy even when his life would force most people into the darkest depression, and it’s a strong place for writers to start with the character, just from the sense of immediately inviting viewers to wonder when he’s going to crack (if ever).

The question of who could play a convincing Murdock is a good one; it’d be a demanding role that would require charisma (Murdock is meant to be a ladies’ man, after all) as well as the ability to convincingly pull off being blind as well as an action hero, and I admit I’m coming up blank for suggestions beyond Christopher Egan of NBC’s dearly-departed Kings a few years back. Choosing a showrunner is far easier, though; Bryan Fuller has superhero experience (He wrote the best Heroes episodes, way back when), showrunning experience (from the amazing Pushing Daisies, amongst other shows) and a relationship with Marvel TV’s Loeb from the aforementioned Heroes. He also understands how to balance light with dark, something that feels necessary for Daredevil, especially Waid’s take on the character, so he’s an obvious nod for me.

With Marvel TV already concentrating on the “street-level” characters in the company’s library – AKA Jessica Jones and Cloak and Dagger are already in development – Daredevil seems like a sensible addition to the company’s offerings, as well as something that could fit inside the crime procedural genre with only a slight twist. Surely that would make it too good to resist.