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A Daredevil Movie Trilogy Almost Happened

Before the days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which was quickly swooped up by Disney in 2009 for $4 billion), film studios had already begun to mine the world of Marvel superheroes and make them their own. From 20th Century Fox came the X-Men films, Sony Pictures staked a claim on Spider-Man, and the first Iron Man movie was brought to the big screen by Paramount.

Nowadays, it's Disney who rules the Marvel kingdom of TV and film — and what a reign it is. The MCU is expanding now that Disney owns 20th Century Studios (bringing the movie rights for the X-Men and The Fantastic Four under its umbrella), not to mention its collaboration with Sony Pictures, which allows for joint custody of Spider-Man. Yet one Marvel superhero's fate remains up in the air, and fans of the character are eager to see how (or if) Disney will handle him.

In 2003, in the wake of director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, 20th Century Fox decided to get in on the action by distributing a film based on Marvel Comics' "Man Without Fear." Daredevil stars Ben Affleck in the titular role. His superpower senses overcome his blindness as he takes on villains of the criminal underworld in New York City's Hell's Kitchen. The film garnered a respectable number of ticket sales when first released in theaters despite mixed reviews from critics

Fast-forward to 2012. The MCU was quickly picking up steam, and the contract between Fox and Marvel over Daredevil was creeping toward the finish line. Feeling the pressure to take advantage of its property while it still could, Fox resolved to give Daredevil another shot. In fact, an entire trilogy of Daredevil movies was being planned. So what happened?

Fox wanted a family-friendly Daredevil

Fox made a deal with director Joe Carnahan to helm the new Daredevil film (via Den of Geek). Carnahan, who directed the 2010 action reboot The A-Team and was an executive producer on NBC's The Blacklist, was enthusiastic about the project, having been a fan of the Daredevil comics in the '80s.

Initially, Carnahan's intention was to make three Daredevil movies set during different time periods of the '70s and '80s. The writer-director was blown away by the gritty, darker nature of the comics and wanted to explore that in the films, per Den of Geek. Unfortunately, Fox wasn't so keen on the idea, wanting to keep it family-friendly. It seemed that Carnahan and Fox were at an impasse, and time ran out on Fox's contract with Marvel.

Yet all was not lost for Daredevil fans. Netflix released its own version of the tortured superhero with the Daredevil series in 2015, starring Charlie Cox as Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio (in a commendable performance) as the nefarious Kingpin. Although it garnered positive reviews from critics and viewers, the show was canceled in 2018 alongside its Marvel-Netflix sister shows as the wait for Disney+ began. Time will tell if the Man Without Fear will return to screens again — and how.