The 70s Live-Action Marvel Team-Up You Never Saw
In the 70s we would eat up whatever live action superhero media they fed us: Shazam! on Saturday mornings; the wildly uneven CBS trio of The Incredible Hulk (solid), The Amazing Spider-Man (shit), and Captain America (worse than Spider-Man; Steve Rogers was a surfer with a van and a motorcycle); that weird and casually racist superhero roast with Adam West filling (really filling) out the Batsuit again. Even (okay, especially) Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman! It was all digested without discrimination and immediately declared GREAT. We were just HUNGRY for the stuff, and if you told me then I'd be damn near sick to death of live-action superhero movies today, I'd have thought you were nuts.
But I am. I'm kind of sick of them. I kinda don't think they're helping movies in general. I get all worked up and say things like "It'll really take something special for me to get excited about a live-action superhero again." And, as if my words alone have conjured the thing, a friend sends me a photo that, yes, gets me really excited about a live-action superhero. And yes, it really is something special:
So, that's a promo shot from 1975, featuring David Bowie's then-wife Angela as the Marvel Comics character Black Widow. What's kind of crazy is that it predates all the 70s Marvel primetime series by about two years. What's even crazier is that Ms.Bowie enlisted actor Ben Carruthers, best known as the light-skinned African American protagonist of John Cassavetes' Shadows, to play Daredevil:
I mean, look at that. Do they fight crime through interpretive dance? Is Daredevil's mask just greasepaint? So much crazy in one photo. What I wouldn't give to see a pilot of this show! Sadly, nothing ever materialized beyond this photo shoot; Ms. Bowie briefly outlined the situation in an email to the Daredevil fansite manwithoutfear.com:
I received permission from Stan Lee to have the rights to Daredevil and Black Widow for a year. We were unable to place the series. Actor, writer, Benny Carruthers and I did the photo shoot with Terry O'Neill and Natasha Kornilkoff costume designer and Barbara Daly - make-up in London and that was all that ever happened. Unfortunately at that time it was considered too difficult and expensive to film, special effects, etc.
And just like that, it was over. Angie Bowie divorced her husband in 1980 and continued to work in film and music. Ben Carruthers died in 1983. Daredevil eventually surfaced in the tv-movie Trial of the Incredible Hulk, before Ben Affleck donned the horns in 2003. Black Widow remained in live-action purgatory until Scarlett Johansson filled the bodysuit in Iron Man 2. Life went on, and the world was left a little poorer, forever denied a live-action Marvel TV series that looked as if it might have out-WTF'd beach bum Captain America.