Post presser, the Muscles From Brussels took to the convention floor where he created a small frenzy as fans recognized the cinematic hero of such 80's and 90's hits Bloodsport, Universal Soldier and Hard Target. Van Damme was escorted to the Marvel Comics booth to meet the legend himself, Stan Lee, who along with artists like John Romita, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby created Daredevil, Spider-Man, The Hulk and The Fantastic Four among hundreds of others.
After an amiable introduction, Van Damme hoped to catch Stan Lee later to discuss a project he had in mind, a big screen adaptation of The Man Without Fear, Daredevil. The Fred Astaire of Karate hoped to secure rights to the character with no upfront and points on the back end instead. A friend doubted Lee would take no upfront but Van Damme confidently replied that someone else could pay, sit on it and not have it made while he could get it into production, turn it into a sensation and Lee would be happy to have the points.
What would Van Damme's version entail? Who knows. But I've always been intrigued by the notion of a comic book hero being played by an actor with the physical prowess and action credentials of 80's and 90's stars. Guys like Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren seemed tailor made to play superheroes because they were basically real life versions of them. Physical, driven, multi-talented and intelligent types who took care of the job.
A mid-1990's Daredevil would have benefited greatly from the action directors working at the time. Guys like James Cameron, Paul Verhoeven, Renny Harlin, Walter Hill, Andrew Davis, Roland Emmerich, John McTiernan and Jan De Bont all showed us intense, exciting, character driven action that didn't require wires or unbelievable CGI.
Jean-Claude Van Damme playing Daredevil would have been a treat as straight forward superhero movies weren't exactly the norm in the 90's. It might not have been the blockbuster of Batman or had the virtuoso touch of Dick Tracy but it could have definitely been a charged and entertaining time at the movies.
Here's Joe Carnahan's last minute effort to direct Daredevil for FOX before the rights lapsed: