What a mess. When Edgar Wright‘s abrupt departure from Ant-Man was announced Friday, the details initially suggested that Marvel already had someone lined up to replace him, and that the film was going to go ahead as scheduled. Now it seems they don’t have a director, and it’s unlikely the film will be ready in time for its announced July 17, 2015 release date.
As first reported by Latino Review this weekend and confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter today, the latest rounds of rewrites for Ant-Man were done without original scripters Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) or Wright, and with the film originally scheduled to shoot in June, Wright wasn’t comfortable with the direction Marvel wanted to take the project and left. Paul Rudd is still in place, but key crew members have also departed. Initially, when no information was given, it seemed like Wright might have been pushed out, but unless they announce a new director in the next couple days, it’s unlikely the film will be ready for 2015. Which means Marvel may push up another one of their titles for a 2015 launch (possibly for the fall) and move Ant-Man into 2016, but — as THR reports — bringing in a new director is going to be hard so we’ll see in what direction Marvel goes. It’s possible that the film will get completely overhauled, or fall away.
THR suggests in a roundabout way the problems could have started because Marvel is concerned about Guardians of the Galaxy – which is their most risky picture yet and could blow up in their face — which led to them backing away from Wright’s Ant-Man. The other thing that’s apparent is that going by the talent they’ve been hiring, Wright is someone they couldn’t control as easily. Filmmakers like Kenneth Branagh (Thor) and James Gunn (Guardians) needed a hit film/big budget movie when they came to Marvel, while directors like Alan Taylor (Thor 2) and the Russo Brothers (Cap 2) came from television and also needed a break. Heck, the same could be said for Joss Whedon when he came on The Avengers or Shane Black with Iron Man 3 (he also had someone who could run interference in Robert Downey Jr.). It’s not that Wright couldn’t use a tentpole blockbuster, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World‘s failure didn’t exactly do him any favors, but he’s unquestionably the most visually distinguished filmmaker that Marvel would have worked with.
For better or worse, this is a turning point for how we view Marvel, and who they are as a company. They’ve got a great brand, and we’ll surely be excited for a number of their upcoming films, but it seems like right now they are more of the primary auteurs of their films than their filmmakers, and perhaps that’s the best way to approach interconnected comic book movies. But part of the reason why we were so excited about Marvel is because they put their faith in filmmakers like Whedon and Wright and Black (and Gunn for that matter). When both Wright and Drew Goddard fall out of Marvel projects within days of each other, it suggests a turning point for the company. But we shall see.
Who do you think should direct Ant-Man?