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Although it looks like there’s no stopping Marvel Studios at this point, that wasn’t always the case, and it took many years for a successful comic-to-visual medium translation to happen. The company’s latest success is the Netflix crime drama Daredevil, and according to Marvel icon Stan Lee, the Man Without Fear would have had a series a lot sooner had it not been for a bit of ignorance behind the scenes.
Here’s how Lee put it at a recent Gillette event promoting their Marvel line of razors, according to the Toronto Sun.
I wanted to do that many years ago, but at the time the people who owned [Marvel] were very foolish. There was a beautiful actress who wanted to play Black Widow alongside Daredevil in the TV show…I came to the person who at the time was the CEO of Marvel and I said, ‘We have a chance to do this as a series,’ and this idiot said, ‘If it bombs, that’ll hurt the character.’ And I said, ‘If that was the case, we’d never do anything.’
Stan Lee isn’t exactly one to pull punches, but that’s about as harsh as it gets from him, straight up calling the guy an idiot. I mean, who can blame him, right? I’m not sure that Daredevil back then would have been anywhere near as excellent as it is in the hands of Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight, who took over when Drew Goddard left, so perhaps that ex-CEO wasn’t quite as dumb in hindsight. But that’s still a rotten excuse for not taking a chance with a beloved comic book character.
If we can do a bit of speculating, Lee is presumably referring to the 1975 attempt to get the project off the ground by model, musician and David Bowie’s former wife Angela Bowie. (Parents of Moon director Duncan Jones, incidentally.) She received the rights to Daredevil from Stan Lee, and went so far as to take promotional photos of herself as Black Widow, and Ben Carruthers as Daredevil, which you can find here. Obviously nothing ever came of that effort, which would have possibly predated both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk series, both of which debuted in 1977 to differing levels of acclaim. As it is, Daredevil didn’t make it to TV in live-action form until the 1989 TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, with Rex Smith as both the blind hero and alter ego Matt Murdock.
Who knows if that project would have had any effect on where things are with the Marvel Universe today? Regardless, we just want to hear about Season 2 at this point, so hopefully Netflix doesn’t decide to follow in the footsteps of dim Marvel execs of the past.