Daredevil is easily the unluckiest hero in the entire MCU. And no, we're not referring to the fact his body is covered with a layer of scar tissue or to Matt Murdock's inability to balance his superhero vocation with his personal life. We're not referring to the crushing losses he's suffered over the years or to the harsh relationship he had with his mentor Stick. Rather, we're talking about how Daredevil has been treated by both Marvel Studios and Marvel Television.
The first season of Daredevil streamed on Netflix back in 2015, and it was an immediate hit - so much so that, just a year later, Marvel released a second season that was similarly praised. Daredevil season 3 is finally coming out on October 19, and it's expected to draw upon some classic comic book arcs - including both Born Again and Guardian Devil.
Given that Ol' Hornhead's Netflix series is performing so well, it seems hardly fitting to describe him as the MCU's unluckiest hero. And yet, that's definitely the case - if only because Daredevil could be so much more.
- This Page: Daredevil Isn't In MCU Movies Because Of Rights Issues
- Next Page: What We Miss Out On Because of the Daredevil TV Show
Daredevil's Movie Rights Explained
In order to understand the troubled history of Daredevil, you first have to cast your mind back to the late '90s. This was a difficult time for Marvel, who were struggling to stave off bankruptcy after the bottom fell out of the entire comic book industry. Desperate to make ends meet, Marvel settled upon the strategy of selling off the film rights to their characters. That's why Sony has the rights to produce and distribute Spider-Man movies, while Fox has the X-Men. Around that time, Fox also bought the rights to Daredevil, in 2003 producing the Ben Affleck-starring dud.
By 2006, though, Marvel Studios was considering a bold and innovative new approach. Rather than continue selling off the film rights to the characters, Marvel would make their own movies. Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, and the entire film industry was staggered at Marvel's success. Initially, Fox still owned the rights to Daredevil (this is why he was off-limits to Marvel during Phase 1 of the MCU) and in 2011 hired directed David Slade and screenwriter Brad Caleb Kane for a new Daredevil movie.
When Slade left the project in 2012, Fox was faced with a difficult situation. Their ownership had an expiration date; similar to Sony with Spider-Man, if Fox couldn't get a Daredevil movie in production and out for release quickly, then the rights would revert back to Marvel (they'd previously kept them by doing an Elektra film, which hadn't exactly been a hit either). Joe Carnahan was interested in taking over, but Fox quickly realized his idea would take too long to produce. In April 2013, Kevin Feige confirmed that Daredevil's rights had finally returned to Marvel.
Kevin Feige Didn't Want Daredevil
But it seems Feige wasn't too interested in Daredevil. Back in 2013, Marvel was attempting to expand the MCU to incorporate both the movies and a range of spinoff TV shows; the first of these was Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As part of this, Feige agreed to an approach that would see characters passed on to Marvel Television if he had no plans for them on the big screen. And so, in November that year, Marvel Television struck an unprecedented deal with Netflix to bring hard-edged Marvel superheroes to the streaming giant. They signed up for four TV shows and a Defenders miniseries, the first of which was Daredevil.
Of course, back then Marvel Television hoped the film and TV empires would cross over. Charlie Cox even told Close-Up Film that his contract specifically allowed him to appear in a Marvel Studios movie "if they want me to do it." However, in the time between the show's announcement and release, something major changed.
In 2015, behind-the-scenes drama at Marvel led Disney to force a massive corporate restructuring. Marvel Studios was pulled out of Marvel Entertainment and established as a separate Disney subsidiary with Kevin Feige in charge. Marvel Television remainder inside Marvel Entertainment, under Jeph Loeb and his boss, Ike Perlmutter. Although Marvel Studios and Marvel Entertainment remained key stakeholders, the relationship between the two would never be the same - and it's had a massive impact on Daredevil's chances of heading to the big screen.
Marvel TV Has Become Increasingly Disconnected From The MCU
As already mentioned, back when Marvel Television launched their TV shows in 2013, they'd expected them to be pretty central to the MCU. That's why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. essentially started off as Marvel's tie-in TV series, with the first season featuring strong connections to Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and - most notably - Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That habit had continued with season 2. But after that schism between Marvel Studios and Television, the links between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the movies began to become a little more distant. Season 3 settled for a throwaway reference to Pym Particles as a crossover for Ant-Man, and season 4 only had a thematic tie-in to Doctor Strange (via a new Ghost Rider) rather than an explicit one.
Meanwhile, although Daredevil season 1 was ostensibly set in the aftermath of the Battle of New York, future Marvel Netflix shows eschewed all but the most indirect references to the movies. More recent MCU TV shows, most notably Runaways, could quite easily exist in a universe entirely separate to the Avengers.
Marvel's catchphrase may be, "It's all connected," but in truth it really isn't. The TV shows are secondary to the MCU, and by now it's pretty clear that TV characters will never appear in a Marvel Studios movie. Worse still, Marvel Studios has recently revealed that they're going to begin a series of their own big-budget MCU TV shows, to be distributed on the Disney streaming service. So the Marvel Television series - like Daredevil - have essentially been relegated to a third tier of canon, even less important to the MCU. As it stands, there's simply no conceivable way Matt Murdock - a major Marvel character - is ever going to appear on the big screen.