Before Ben Affleck donned the red mask in 2003 for Mark Steven Johnson's Daredevil, Chris Columbus and Carlo Carlei began work on their own version of the Man Without Fear, each taking a crack at a script before turning to veteran comics writer (and Carlei's friend) J.M. DeMatteis.
"I learned, very quickly, that, even with a background in both comics and film, turning a superhero saga into a movie was no easy feat," DeMatteis writes on his blog. "But after some false starts — and fantastic input from Carlo, Chris and two exceptional members of the 1492 team, Jim Mulay and Michael Barnathan — I completed a detailed treatment that seemed to please all involved. I was delighted, to say the least, but delight turned to ecstasy when I came home one day to find a message from Stan Lee — one of my childhood heroes and a man I still admire beyond words — on my answering machine. He’d read my treatment, he said (in his uniquely Stan way), and absolutely loved it. Stan 'The Man' rhapsodizing about my work? It took about a week for my feet to touch ground again."
Unfortunately, rights lapsed, deals changed, and ultimately Johnson was brought in to direct and write, resulting in the $179 million-grossing Daredevil (and Jennifer Garner's 2005 Elektra spinoff).
However, now DeMatteis is providing a glimpse of what might've been, sharing the first third of his treatment for Daredevil, the Man Without Fear (with the promise of more in the coming weeks). The excerpt features last names than comic fans will recognize as those of creators -- Romita, O'Neil, Mazzucchelli, DeFalco, Mackie -- Easter eggs that DeMatteis acknowledges wouldn't have made it to the screen.
"I suspect they all would have been removed before I ever started the first draft of the script," he writes.