With the second season of his critically acclaimed show just a few days away from its grand debut, Daredevil is more popular now than he ever has been. The Netflix exclusive series has been a massive success for a character that's never really managed to get a foothold outside the comic book industry — the Man Without Fear is a great character, but he's never really found much success outside his native medium.
Take video games, for example: aside from cameos in other superheroes' games, Daredevil's only real claim to fame is a Game Boy Advance adaptation of the 2003 movie. It's about as bare-bones a resume as you can get ... though that wasn't always the case.
Before Batman: Arkham Asylum changed how people looked at comic book games, the bar was set by Marvel's early Spider-Man games — and it's easy to see how a Daredevil game could work in a similar fashion. In fact, had everything gone according to plan, that's exactly what would have happened with Encore Entertainment's Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.
Let's be honest: this actually could have been great.
Sure, it looks ridiculously outdated now — but, if Daredevil had made its 2004 release date, it could have been revolutionary. Remember, this was before Spider-Man 2 hit the scene, and Daredevil looks like it would have used a lot of similar mechanics — meaning that it could have ended up being the gold standard for comic book games, instead of Activision's Spider-Man game.
And, while they look simple from a modern standpoint, the trailer shows off quite a few of Matt Murdock's signature moves. There's a bit more swinging than fans might expect, but there's plenty of combat, echolocation, parkour — for 2004, the Daredevil game was looking like it'd have quite a bit of variety, and that's before you toss in a playable Elektra. Even Hell's Kitchen looked great for the time, with wide-open expanses and a ton of little details sprinkled throughout.
So, what happened? Well ... business.
Encore Entertainment, the company behind Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, was working as both a video game developer and publisher at the time. Then, in 2004, the company decided to cancel all of its in-house work (which consisted mostly of Daredevil) and act solely as a publisher. Despite the fact that the game was well into development and already being advertised in the pages of Marvel's comics, the game was dropped and never saw the light of day.
Who knows, maybe with the success of the current series, fans will finally get to see the Man Without Fear in a game that's actually worth playing. For the time being, however, all we can do is look back and dream of what could have been.
Season two of Marvel's Daredevil hits Netflix on March 18.