Yesterday, a piece of movie news dropped that shocked a lot of people, both comic-book and film fans: Edgar Wright had parted ways with Marvel Studios from Ant-Man. Now, I’m as stunned as anyone about this news: a) because I’m a huge fan of Edgar Wright since The Cornetto Trilogy started in 2004 and b) because Marvel has done no wrong by their talent until now (except for, maybe, the bridge building in Iron Man 2 that probably frustrated Jon Favreau so much so that he stepped down from directing Iron Man 3).
Word on the street currently is that the reason Edgar Wright decided to step down from directing Ant-Man, a film he’s been attached to do for the last eight years, is that Marvel decided to tinker with his script too much for his taste. If that is the case, I would say that Marvel’s in the wrong on this one.
As the Indiewire article mentions, they’ve hired TV directors to do their bidding in the execution of their scripts for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World, with Marvel taking care of the visual effects. I don’t think anyone would have imagined them tinkering with Joss Whedon for The Avengers or Shane Black for Iron Man 3, with the latter film pretty much a standalone pic, even with regards to the post credits scene. But these are films with relatively popular characters, especially with Iron Man in them.
The only other parallel film to Ant-Man, in terms of risk, in the Marvel wheelhouse right now is Guardians Of The Galaxy, a film which is set entirely outside Earth. But from what I know, James Gunn and Marvel have an excellent relationship where they let Gunn be Gunn. And then they let him out-Gunn Gunn. However, Guardians is not intended to tie in with the Avengers yet, at least judging from the fact that this first movie would be an origin story for Marvel to launch the franchise. That would mean Marvel had no reason to tinker with Guardians in terms of connecting it with the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU).
On the other hand, Ant-Man is a character that does not have that luxury. He’s late to join the Marvel party: he was one of the founding members of the Avengers. He exists in the same world as the traditional characters do. It’s in Marvel’s best interests to tie Ant-Man to their universe as soon as they can. But it appears that Edgar Wright is not building the traditional origin story for Ant-Man: the film contains both Hank Pym and Scott Lang. Presumably the film would feature a passing of the mantle from Pym to Lang, so Ant-Man exists when the story begins. That’s a lot of distance to cover for an audience who doesn’t know Ant-Man, hence the increased risk for Marvel if they didn’t root the film enough in the MCU.
My question to Marvel is: why the hell has Ant-Man been in development for so long? Is it because of Wright’s films that have been released in the last eight years (the count stands at three) i.e. Wright kept skipping off to do a film of his own? Or is it because Marvel always intended for Ant-Man to be introduced so late in the game? Wouldn’t it have made sense for Marvel to have introduced Ant-Man along with their other characters and then have him in The Avengers?
All said and done, it appears that Marvel dropped the ball on Ant-Man one way or the other. One cannot blame Wright for stepping away from the project: he clearly was passionate about the film and wanted to do it his way. It’s a situation that could have been avoided if Ant-Man had been made at the right time, when it didn’t need to be strapped down with universe bridges. Joss Whedon says it best:
But here’s the thing: could Whedon have had a hand in booting Wright? Was he one of the people who instituted some Avengers bridges for Ant-Man? I highly doubt it, but seeing as how high up Whedon is in the Marvel ranks, it’s plausible. I can’t wait for Edgar Wright to announce his next film and move on with his career.
Header Image Attribution: Edgar Wright by Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-SA-3.0