If you’ve been in this pop-culture news space for as long as I have, then you probably remember A-Team director Joe Carnahan‘s sizzle reel (proof-of-concept presentation meant to give an overview of a project) for a Daredevil film set in the ’70s from 2012, around the time the rights were reverting back to Disney. If you’ve never heard of it until the piece, then it’s something you must absolutely see.
The A-Team director’s sizzle reel is a beautiful mishmash of iconic New York and Daredevil imagery. Carnahan uses scenes from classic 70s films like Dirty Harry, Taxi Driver, and The Warriors as an inspirational backdrop for his superhero period piece. These scenes, spliced with some of the most iconic Frank Miller Daredevil panels and underpinned by Curtis Mayfield‘s Superfly, paint the perfect cinematic picture of what a film starring the Man Without Fear would look like set in the era that defined the character’s legacy.
When this came out 8 years ago, I remember being vehemently against the idea of setting Daredevil anywhere but the present day. The MCU at the time was in its infancy. No TV shows had been produced yet and the first Avengers had just come out. The idea of Matt Murdock returning to Disney’s fold was beyond exciting. I had just come off reading the entire Volume 2 run consisting of Brian Michael Bendis‘ and Ed Brubaker‘s work and in my naive nerdy brain, I was hopeful that he’d be one of the next characters in line for a new movie.
Sadly, no new Daredevil movie ever happened. Just a year after Carnahan’s pitch was released, Marvel announced a huge partnership with Netflix which, in the end, gave us 3 full seasons of the Man Without Fear. The films never acknowledged the existence of such a show, leaving a void in this tapestry of diverse heroes. And with all the ground the Netflix shows have covered, and the growingly cramped space of present-day stories in the MCU, a part of me has opened up to the idea of Daredevil as a vehicle to tell stories in eras untouched in the MCU.
I’m a firm believer that the next iteration of Daredevil has to be something we’ve never seen from the title, regardless of whether they decide to reboot the cast or bring the Netflix stars. In my book, they can either take the opposite route of what the shows have done and tackle the bright and fun Mark Waid-era of Daredevil or maintain the tone that made the shows a huge success but with a twist: set it elsewhere like Carnahan’s idea.
The same way Captain Marvel filled some gaps on what the MCU was like 25 years ago (has it really been that long?!), a period piece Daredevil set in the 70s or 80s could switch things up for the MCU. Visually, that era has its own language. Contrary to what the Netflix shows did where they did their own take on what a broken-down Hell’s Kitchen looks like in modern-day, you get to maintain the authenticity of what New York actually was like 40 years ago.
You can also do some cool stuff with Matt outside of New York and Hell’s Kitchen. The comics has seen Matt away from his hometown multiple times throughout the years. He’s had a notable stint in San Francisco back in the day, which was revisited by Mark Waid in his run. Occasionally, the character gets to go to a crazy place like Latveria or Alabama, as seen in one of the most underrated Daredevil stories ever, Daredevil: Redemption. There’s so much you can do with the existing dark tone just by simply changing up the setting. REwatching Carnahan’s reel after 8 years is a nice reminder of that.
Tackling the Mark Waid is a whole different discussion. It’s honestly my preferred route between the two for a slew of reasons but that’s another article for another day.