‘Daredevil’: David Scarpa looks for new Matt Murdock

Feb. 05, 2010 | 11:05 p.m.

Another Hollywood entity is trying the daredevil move — literally — of rebooting a superhero franchise that hasn’t really been away that long.

The Fox-affiliated production company New Regency, which produced the initial “Daredevil” back in 2003, is making another go of a movie headlined by that character. The company is interested in restarting the Marvel franchise and has hired David Scarpa, a writer best known for the script of the 2008 sci-fi remake “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” to offer a new take. Former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin will also produce the project via his new production company.

Fox/New Regency have been rumored for some time to be interested in a new “Daredevil,” but to this point had taken few concrete steps in that direction.

The first “Daredevil,” which came out in 2003, starred Ben Affleck as the supersensory superhero and Colin Farrell as his nemesis Bullseye, with Jennifer Garner playing love interest Elektra Natchios. Despite some mixed reviews, that film performed reasonably well (about $180 million in global box office) — enough to prompt the spinoff “Elektra” with Garner back in 2005 (which didn’t perform as well). It’s not yet established who from those casts might return if the new “Daredevil” moves forward.

The original Marvel comic book series “Daredevil” told of the adventures of Matt Murdock, a young man from the working-class neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan who acquired particularly keen touch and hearing senses after a bio-chemical accident left him blind. Those familiar with the reboot say that the new project would give Scarpa latitude to reinterpret plot points and character nuance.

Mark Steven Johnson, who also counts “Ghost Rider” among his credits, wrote and directed the 2003 “Daredevil.” (He recently moved on to a less fannish realm, directing the Kristen Bell romantic comedy “When In Rome.”) In addition to “Earth,” Scarpa also wrote on the military-prison thriller “The Last Castle” that starred James Gandolfini.

New Regency is following a vogue for reboots of franchises that were, well, just booted. Sony is scrapping its existing Spider-Man franchise to start over with “(500) Days of Summer” director Marc Webb and screenwriter James Vanderbilt, who will tell a high-school-set origin story. The initial “Daredevil” did feature some details of the character’s beginnings, though a new script would not be burdened down with nearly as much of the mythology that saddles the “Spider-Man” franchise, which over three films intensively explored the character’s origins and development.

Studios generally are eager to continue development even on less-high-profile comic book characters. Fox, in particular, wants to ensure that it doesn’t miss out on the superhero bounty (“X-Men” and its spinoff characters are currently its most vibrant superhero properties). Keeping comic book licenses in active development also legally prevents the characters from reverting to Marvel, which would happen over the coming years if new development work wasn’t done on the Marvel-licensed titles.

–Steven Zeitchik

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 “Daredevil” art. Credit: Marvel Comics.

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