It's official: 20th Century Fox won't be able to get a new 'Daredevil' film into production in time to retain the rights to the character, so it will revert back to Marvel. So which director should Marvel hire to bring the Man Without Fear back to the screen?

Fox had been trying to reboot 'Daredevil' for a while, with no success, and it seemed as if the project was dead at the studio after director David Slade ('The Twilight Saga: Eclipse') left it behind. But hope flared again briefly as Fox brought in Joe Carnahan ('The Grey'), only for the development process to stall again. With the clock running out on the October 10th deadline, Fox threw up its figurative hands and will let the property head home to Marvel -- where, frankly, it belongs.

That's not a dig at Fox, although the studio was behind the lame 2003 adaptation of the comic book starring a miscast Ben Affleck. We simply like the idea of seeing as many Marvel characters as possible under the imprint's roof again. The Marvel Studios we know now, producing its blockbuster shared universe movies starring Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, etc. was not around nine years ago when 'Daredevil' first hit the screen. Now that blind crimefighter Matt Murdock is heading home, he can potentially join that universe. It's too early to say whether Marvel will completely ignore the 2003 film and re-tell Daredevil's origin, or focus on Frank Miller's classic 'Born Again' storyline as Fox was reportedly planning to do. We certainly like the idea of a tough, gritty, noir-ish 'Daredevil,' as Miller envisioned it, because it would make for a Marvel film with a completely different feel from everything the studio has done so far. But who should the studio recruit to bring that vision to life?

Here are five possible candidates we think could get the job done and save 'Daredevil' at Marvel.

  • 1

    Joe Carnahan

    No one has said that Carnahan is out of the running, have they? With both dark crime thrillers like 'Narc' and large-scale action spectacles like 'The A-Team' on his resume -- not to mention this year's excellent existential nature thriller 'The Grey' -- Carnahan is quite capable of handling a superhero film. He's got a feel for urban environments, violence and action. His proposed 'Daredevil' at Fox, however, was going to be set in 1973, which would take Murdock away from any present-day mingling with, let's say, the Avengers. The other question is whether his vision would remain intact and result in Marvel's first R-rated film -- something corporate owner Disney might be leery about.

    Jason Kempin, Getty Images
  • 2

    Gareth Evans

    This Welsh filmmaker made an incredible splash in late 2011 when his 'The Raid' (retitled 'The Raid: Redemption' for its official U.S. release earlier this year) blew audiences away at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film, shot in Indonesia, chronicled a brutal battle between cops and psychopaths in a tenement building controlled by a crime lord. The movie's action -- dominated by the Indonesian martial art pencak silat -- was simply astonishing, while the film overall was a relentless and frequently breathtaking ballet of bloodshed. Like Carnahan, Evans might have to temper some of his esthetic down for a mainstream comic book movie, but his action chops and sense of urban despair would fit perfectly into an adaptation of 'Born Again' (and he might bring in ninjas!)

    Clinton Gilders, Getty Images
  • 3

    Rupert Wyatt

    This is a bit of a long shot, since Fox is going to conceivably have Wyatt making 'Apes' movies for the next few years, but the British director is high on our list to direct just about anything. 2011's 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' showed he could bring brains and a slow-building tension to a sci-fi tentpole, with the movie's climactic ape revolt was a perfect, large-scale action payoff. But his excellent debut, 2008's severely underseen 'The Escapist,' also displayed a detailed eye for environment and character. If Marvel is looking to make a 'Daredevil' on a more intimate, character-based scale, he could be their man.

    Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
  • 4

    Daniel Espinosa

    He does crime really well, his style is fast-moving and efficient, and he's already taken meetings on franchises like 'X-Men: First Class' and 'The Wolverine,' so the Swedish/Chilean export could land right in the sweet spot to helm 'Daredevil.' His big breakout was 'Snabba Cash' (a.k.a. 'Easy Money'), a tough, intense drugs-and-gangs thriller, while his American debut, 'Safe House,' fell down a bit in the script department but still captured Espinosa's energy and flair for violence. He too might run afoul of the MPAA when it comes down to an R or PG-13 rating, but he also might cost a little less than either Carnahan or Wyatt.

    Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images
  • 5

    Neil Burger

    We happened to like Burger's 'Limitless' a lot, and it had a certain sizzle and even slightly comic book style to it, while not skimping on violence. We're not quite certain if Burger would take 'Daredevil' as dark as a Carnahan or Espinosa probably would, but at the same time he could bring a slightly different perspective to the whole enterprise and make it seem even more fresh. This choice is a little bit of a wild card, but Marvel has been known to pull some surprising selections out of nowhere (Kenneth Branagh, anyone?)

    Larry Busacca, Getty Images