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The Man Without Fear is now the man without a director, as well. David Slade has departed 20th Century Fox’s planned reboot of the Daredevil franchise, leaving the studio scrambling for a replacement.

Slade, who helmed the darkest of the Twilight films in Eclipse, seemed like an excellent choice to helm the gritty Daredevil material. But his commitment to the TV show Hannibal with Mads Mikkelsen reportedly has prevented him from signing on to Fox’s timetable. The studio has to get a Daredevil film into production by the fall, or else they’ll lose the rights to the character back to Marvel.

That’s unlikely. Hitfix points out that Fox has a solid Daredevil script in their hands, so all they have to do is find the right filmmaker to bring their vision to the screen. The news of Slade’s departure came on the heels of Fox confirming that Chronicle director Josh Trank was moving forward with a Fantastic Four film, so the studio wants to stay in the Marvel business.

As well they should. Both Daredevil and The Fantastic Four were mistreated in their early cinematic incarnations. And both have tremendous potential as superhero franchises. Fox must cringe as they watch Marvel, Sony and Warner Bros. hit home runs (or, at the very least, triples) with their Avengers, Spider-Man and The Dark Knight properties, while Wolverine, Daredevil and FF miss their full potential. Now that Slade’s out, we can expect to hear movement on a new director – particularly with the studio’s back against the proverbial wall when it comes to character rights – and then, hopefully, we can dig into more important topics. Like casting. And a release date.

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