While some Daredevil fans would love to see an animated adaptation of ‘Born Again,’ there are others who would rather see ‘The Man Without Fear.’
Daredevil fans were devastated when the acclaimed Netflix series was prematurely canceled after three seasons (though Charlie Cox might get a return as his iteration of the superhero in Spider-Man: No Way Home). That being said, aside from the current excellent Zdarsky run, Daredevil could use more exposure in the mainstream. Animation is an increasingly popular format in the west, and an animated project would be a good appetizer for whenever the character’s next live-action outing is.
DC usually dominates the animation space, but Marvel could expand by dabbling in animation through TV and movies like they have been (namely with adapting some classic comics). Flashpoint, The Death of Superman and The Dark Knight Returns have all gotten animated adaptations, and Marvel adapting Daredevil’s Born Again and The Man Without Fear would be great candidates too.
Born Again: The Influence For Season 3
Frank Miller wrote both the acclaimed Born Again and The Man Without Fear for Daredevil’s mythos, though the former should get animated first given the influence it provided the most recent and (premature) final season of the Netflix series. With Wilson Fisk discovering Daredevil’s identity and dismantling Matt’s life piece by piece, it served as the foundation for the overall arc in season three.
On top of simply being an excellent, well-written drama of an arc, an animated movie that is a straightforward adaptation of the comic would be great for fans of Daredevil who came in through the show.
The Man Without Fear: Daredevil’s “Year One”
The Man Without Fear has a particularly special place in Daredevil’s mythos as its regarded as the definitive origin story for the character. This isn’t surprising, as Miller had already done this for Batman years prior with Year One. They are both iconic beginnings for these superheroes, and that makes The Man Without Fear an excellent entry point into animation for Daredevil.
Miller expertly made both stories integral to the mental pillars of these characters, so The Man Without Fear animated movie is ideal for new fans who haven’t caught wind with the Netflix series. Subsequently, the latter could be appreciated even more if it used the context of the work that inspired season one.
Born Again: Ideal Two-Part Adaptation
Going back to DC’s most celebrated animated movies, the likes of The Dark Knight Returns (also originally written by Miller) got an exceptional two-part animated adaptation. This would likely be a format to best suit adapting Born Again.
As mentioned, it’s an intensely dramatic arc, so cramming it into 70-75 minutes would be difficult. It’s a great way to get more of a good thing while also doing the comic book justice. Especially with the arc chronicles, the systematic destruction, and implosion of Matt’s life – the payoff would need over two hours across two movies to satisfy.
The Man Without Fear: The Batman Begins Formula
It’s easy to see how now audiences are tired of seeing origin stories played out, but Nolan’s trilogy opener Batman Begins masterfully set the groundwork for telling an engaging origin tale. Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix used this formula for season one and beautifully fleshed out that formula into long-running TV.
Taking a straight adaptation of The Man Without Fear, though, would allow for a more concise experience given the lower pressure and restrictions of live-action blockbusters. 75-80 minutes could work runtime-wise and could take advantage of both the source material’s writing and Begins’ cinematic way of telling an compelling origin.
Born Again: No Immediate Need For Origins
Conversely, the current atmosphere for not wanting to trudge through origin stories again could be a reason why The Man Without Fear can wait (should Marvel decide that animated adaptations of classics are something worth exploring). Should they do a Born Again movie(s), it’s largely being done for longtime fans anyway, and they don’t need a convincing story to get them to check out an animated version of it.
Plus, Born Again could still be done without needing copious amounts of pre-established lore to follow the story in a satisfying manner. Adapting The Man Without Fear could still be more than viable, but maybe not the first dive into this target market.
The Man Without Fear: Troy Baker Voicing Matt’s Origins
Troy Baker is certainly a household name in the world of voice acting, namely for gaming. He’s held many vital roles, especially in the superhero genre. Baker’s voiced Batman in Telltale’s games and Joker in Arkham Origins, and he’s voicing the latter again in the animated adaptation of The Long Halloween. Likewise, he’s expressed interest in wanting to portray Daredevil in a game, though something like this would likely also grab his attention.
As a self-professed fan of superhero/comics, it would be fitting to adapt The Man Without Fear as the start of a newfound venture into animation (plus have Baker take the reigns of his beginnings). This would also be a good way to give Daredevil an iconic voice actor on top of a live-action one, and of course market a movie with a notable name attached.
Born Again: More Kingpin
Wilson Fisk does feature in The Man Without Fear, and does plenty to be menacing there as well, but Born Again has him more in focus as a central antagonist. During the time of the latter, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is more seasoned, which means that Kingpin is also.
While the criminal overlord was conceived as a Spider-Man supervillain, he’s now been shared with Daredevil’s rogues gallery and has even become more synonymous with him in terms of arch-nemeses. At this point, the blood feud the two has become even bloodier, and would make for an enthralling pair of animated movies that pits the two in a profoundly personal battle.
The Man Without Fear: Matt & Elektra
Something that would be good to see adapted out of this first would be the beginning of Matt and Elektra’s relationship. The equivalent to Batman and Catwoman (with some Talia al Ghul thrown in), Elektra is a great character in her own right, and also complements Matt’s/Daredevil’s upbringing into who he is.
Fans saw a proper version of this in live-action with season two of the Netflix series, but it’s unclear whether Elodie Yung will get a return to the role after the streaming platform canceled its Marvel shows. Live-action or animated, Elektra has only gotten minimal exposure, with half her appearances being in two poorly-received movies in the early-mid 2000s – so this would be welcomed.
Born Again: Captain America Supporting Role
In at least a two-part adapted format, two Born Again animated movies could see Captain America feature in the second. At one point in the story, Kingpin orchestrates the release of a psychiatric patient, going by “Nuke,” to frame Daredevil and bring Murdock out of hiding. Eventually, Cap comes in with the Avengers to bring Nuke into custody, which leads the two to cross paths.
It would be an exciting way to bring in more attention by having one of the more recently recognizable Marvel superheroes to in part help the buzz of an animated movie. It could even be a fun way of possibly bringing Chris Evans back in to reprise his role in a smaller, unconnected project from the MCU.
The Man Without Fear: A Single Movie’s Easier To Sell
With Born Again being a saga that would benefit most with more runtime to breathe, a single movie covering The Man Without Fear would likely be an easier sell. With Marvel not sharing the same interest in direct-to-video animated movies that DC has, this would be the perfect Daredevil project to test the waters of this market.
The comic’s not much shorter than Born Again, but given its origins premise and, as mentioned, an animated movie could potentially make it work in around 80 minutes as long as it’s concise rather than lazily gutting content.
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