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Could Quentin Tarantino Make “Daredevil”?

Last week it surfaced that Quentin Tarantino was invited to make Green Lantern before Martin Campbell took on the project. Being honest, I am actually more interested in what his Casino Royale would have looked like – he was interested in directing the project and keeping Brosnan in the leading role. It certainly would have been different from Campbell’s reimagining of the Bond series. But during the interview, Tarantino revealed that he might once have been interested in the idea of directing a comic book movie, but that has passed:

So there’s a little part of me that’s like, ‘Wow, if I was in my 20s, this would be the genre I’d want to specialize in’. But they weren’t making them then, or at least not the right ones. But there also is an aspect where I’ve kind of outgrown that a little bit.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Green Lantern – with it’s massive space opera tapestry, inevitable reliance on hockiness that really won’t stand up to deconstruction and newl-emerged status as an A-list comic book hero – would not be ideally suited to Tarantino’s unique skillset. I racked my head thinking of some – Black Panther, Ant-Man, Starman – but I think I kinda settled on the hero would perhaps best suit his style. Daredevil.

Can Tarantino save Daredevil?

As much as Tarantino loves hokey science fiction and cheesy B-movies, his heart has always been in crime drama. That’s why he partnered Robert Rodriguez’s zombie horror in Planet Terror with a straight-up car-driving serial killer in Death Proof for their double-picture show Grindhouse. His movies aren’t so much grounded in reality as in the gritty noir cinescape. The desert of Sergio Leone features in Kill Bill, as does a neon Tokyo. Inglourious Basterds is a cinematic version Second World War, full of individual confrontations – not anonymous battles.

He has a taste for urban crime stories. The only non-original film appearing in his filmography is Jackie Brown, an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel. His masterpieces are Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, two similarly urban crime tales. They come with a hint of cinematic fantasy and ridiculousness which helps distinguish them from reality. These are guys who care about the coffee they drink when they are covered in blood. They aren’t quite as unrelateable or unrealistic as the spandex-wearing characters that inhabit superhero worlds, but they are close.

So, why is Daredevil the character best suited to Tarantino’s cinematic vision? You might suggest that the blaxploitation potential of Black Panther appeals more to his nature and leanings. Perhaps it does. I am afraid of the potential for over-the-top-ness that Black Panther offers – I also think that it is too easy a choice, too straightforward almost. Starman probably deserves a more grounded and less fantastic director (ironic for a character who flies with a cosmic rod and has a blue alien and pirate ghost as friends), one who builds upon his geeky obsessions rather than simply indulging them. His Ant-Man would be interesting, but I’m too interested in the potential Pixar film to get too worried about it.

And Daredevil needs help. The 2005 film was… less than stellar. Even the director’s cut was, at best, decidedly average. There’s talk of a sequel/spinoff/remake which wll pretty much ignore the original – like The Incredible Hulk did to Ang Lee’s Hulk. While that may sound promising of itself, the rather unfortunate rumour is that Frank Miller himself may want to direct. Yes, Frank Miller defined the character, but we’ve all blocked The Spirit from our memories for a very good reason. Besides, Robert Rodriguez proved himself adept at adapting Sin City, so I imagine Miller would be comfortable with Tarantino on Daredevil. This is a character who has worked under the pen of Kevin Smith, after all (though, like all comic book matters, that’s a hotly contested issue).

Daredevil has been a character in comics who has been gradually moved away from the more ridiculous elements of his past – his ‘triple life’ as Matt’s fun-loving brother ‘Mike’, or his pathetic rogues gallery – while still tending to acknowledge them in small ways. For example, during his landmark run, Frank Miller took time out from an on-going plot to mock the uselessness of The Stiltman as a potential supervillain. Yes, he’s  a guy whose supervillain status is defined by the fact he wears stilts. This sort of medium awareness would compliment Tarantino down to the ground – imagine Tarantino writing a scene in a dingy bar where ridiculous would-be villains like Stiltman, Bushwacker, Jester and the Masked Marauder sit down and share a beer or have a game of cards while mocking each other over how ridiculous they are while discussing ridiculously nuanced facets of vigilante life, like where they sew the zippers in the costume and how they trade lawyers and use on-line dating services (mask on or mask off?).

There’s more to the potential fun than that – though I think that would make an excellent film in its own right. Tarantino loves ominous and overbearing (and incredibly verbose and philosophical) masterminds. Take Bill from Kill Bill, or even Wallace from Pulp Fiction. They talk the talk – they actually sound like almost reasonable men, if a little prone to geekish references or observations. That sort of style doesn’t really suit too many major comic book villains – it’s hard to imagine the Green Goblin having a long meandering conversation with Spider-Man in the midst of an action scene or Doctor Doom making a witty monologue as he vicitimises the Fantastic Four. Batman and the Joker would share that kind of discussion, but their nature makes the conversation inherently more abstract and academic. Neither is really a practiced orator. Well, maybe the Joker. But that movie has been made already. The Kingpin is a mobster not unlike the two examples mentioned above. He even has a right-hand assassin in the form of Bullseye who would probably work much the same way as the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad in Kill Bill. The Kingpin can’t fly. He doesn’t look especially impressive in real life (even played by Michael Clarke Duncan). He need an extra something to make him stick in the audience’s memory. Dialogue would seem to be the key, given how much he likes to play around in the background rather than doing showy stuff.

Daredevil himself is the one weak spot in all this – I can’t see him as a Tarantino protagonist, even though I can see his world as a Tarantino world. The character has super radar after a radioactive accident made him blind. That’s ridiculous no matter how grim and gritty you may make his version of Hell’s Kitchen. I think a Tarantino Daredevil would acknowledge this in a sly sort of way. I think one of the biggest difficulties that the Daredevil film had was deciding what to play as grim and gritty and what to play as funny and over-the-top. I don’t see Tarantino having that difficulty. The premise is hokey, but admitting that is goes some way toward selling it to the audience.

There is an extra bonus I had almost forgotten about. When Frank Miller renovated the character, he took a huge dollup of influence from the gritty American storytellers – crime and noir were the order of the day – but he also borrowed from some of Tarantino’s favourite influences. He gave us ninjas. Lots and lots of ninjas. in fact, a cult of deadly ninja assassins trying to kill Daredevil. He also gave him a ninja girlfriend. Tell me that this doesn’t sound like Tarantino gold right now.

I’m not sure exactl what the pitch for a storyline is. I don’t think Tarantino would want to do a straightforward adaptation (since he was tied down to Jackie Brown), so I imagine he’ll come up with something original and fun. I trust him. It would be funky.

It’ll never happen, but it’s a fun fantasy to indulge. If only because it would be kickass to see Tarantino himself play a supporting role Stiltman. “Nobody wants to be Mr. Stiltman.”

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