May 28, 2014

DAREDEVIL Loses A Showrunner But Gains A Matt Murdock

You guys, Marvel had a rough Memorial Day weekend.

It all started on Friday, right as I was walking into the theater to see Days Of Future Past, when word broke that Edgar Wright was walking away from the looooooong gestating Ant-Man feature that was scheduled to kick off Marvel's Phase Three.  After a lot of ugly rumors and speculation, it appears (according to the usually reliable folks at Latino Review) that the Powers That Be at Disney and Marvel had suddenly balked at the idea of making a movie with a criminal as the protagonist, even if that criminal is lovable goofball Paul Rudd.  So they ordered up a page one rewrite of the script courtesy of a couple of their in-house guys including Eric Pearson, the guy guy responsible for most of Marvel's increasingly fun series of One Shot shorts.  The script came back a few weeks later and apparently it was an abomination, so much so that Wright and his co-writer Joe Cornish felt they had no choice but to leave the project.  This, obviously, blows.

The very next morning came another bombshell: the Daredevil series that Marvel had been cooking up for Netflix had apparently lost Drew Goddard as its showrunner, ostensibly so that he could focus on piecing together the increasingly ill-conceived Sinister Six movie for Sony.  He's been replaced by Stephen S. DeKnight, another member of the Joss Whedon School of TV Making who oversaw the last few seasons of Starz's Spartacus series, which was extremely popular among people who accidentally subscribed to Starz.  Goddard, who will still end up receiving a vestigial credit on the finished series, actually left weeks ago, but once the Wright news broke, the floodgates of information opened up brought unto Kevin Feige a raging headache as the internet rushed to declare this double whammy of bad press as the harbinger of 40 years of Marvel darkness.

Word has it that Goddard may have been clashing with Marvel over casting the show's lead, and while we may never know who he had his sights on (I've seen some suggestions that it was Joel Edgerton, a possibility almost too awesome to have been real) we now know who Marvel has anointed as the one true Matt Murdock: Charlie Cox, he of the giant forehead pictured above.  Cox was the lead of Matthew Vaughn's Stardust, a movie that my wife is exceedingly fond of and which I only vaguely recall watching one time.  I do remember that Claire Danes played a literal falling star and Robert DeNiro was a transvestite airship pirate, yet somehow I feel like neither of those two things were nearly as awesome as they sound in print.  More recently Cox played the Irish hitman/valet who loved up Kelly MacDonald on HBO's Boardwalk Empire and I will admit both that I quite liked him in that role and that I didn't realize he was also that Stardust guy until 20 minutes ago.

Obviously it's troubling that Marvel seems to be bleeding creative talent out its ears, but it seems a tad early to be going all Chicken Little on Feige and friends just yet.  Daredevil will proceed and probably end up being somewhere this side of adequate, while really anything could still happen with Ant-Man.  I think it's just as likely that Marvel announces a new director in the next three weeks as it is that Marvel announces that they're scrapping the project all together.  Mostly I just feel bad for Wright and Goddard, two unique voices who have now both lost out on the opportunity to realize some serious personal passion projects.

Here's hoping that this time next year doesn't find Paul Rudd shrugging his way through a late-night press tour and Charlie Cox assuring us, "It'll be better than that Ben Affleck one!"

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