Some thoughts on the whole ‘Ant-Man’ situation

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

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Why Story matters to me the most.

This post is an experiment in a different writing style which I call Heart Over Brain. It basically involves just writing without thinking too much about what you are writing. This technique, in my opinion, does work in bringing out feelings and ideas that I would have otherwise not been able to put on paper if I was thinking about what to write. When I used the thinking method I typed around 2000 characters (with spaces) only, but with the Heart Over Brain method I managed to put down around 6,000 characters (with spaces) about this topic. So, I think it works for the ideas that you really feel, but you don’t really think about.

There’s nothing more awesome than experiencing a good story. How do you experience a story? Well, for me at least, I don’t just listen to a story, I don’t just watch a movie and I don’t just read a book. Whenever I encounter something new, I immediately turn on my Imagination Switch and dive into that thing. If it’s a book, I imagine myself in that world, at that time. If it’s the trailer for a movie, I imagine what the actual movie would be like. If it’s an actual movie, my emotions are already a part of that movie. I’m like a skateboarder tailing off a speeding car on the freeway when I watch a movie, experiencing so many emotions at the same time. And when I imagine, I use all of my senses, at least I try to. I imagine the weather, how things taste, how things smell, what does it LOOK like. That’s experiencing a story, and only stories can do that, nothing else can, no matter how hard you try.

Stories have been with us since the Dawn of Man. I can imagine our ancestors, those Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, squiggling cave paintings on the walls of their dwelling or on huge leaves with pieces of charcoal and clay. Why do you think we found cave paintings in the first place? Story. Story existed in every civilization, and history tells us that. In fact, history is a story too, most of us experience the wrong kind of History class where we have to memorize dates of wars, births and deaths of kings and historical events. Every time I go to one of my friends and say, “Let me tell you a story”, I have their full attention, because Story intrigues and entices everybody. No one is adverse to Story, everyone welcomes it, however good or bad. Story has the power to change us, excite us, empower us, challenge us, open new doors for us, manipulate our emotions and believe in fictional people. That’s what Story does, it could be the most potent thing we ever have. And Story isn’t just limited to actual stories; we have stories in advertising, business, politics, medicine, science and even architecture. Stories are literally everywhere, we just don’t see it.

Stories also matter because of its characters. Nothing beat a kick ass character, who feels so real you could actually meet this person in real life. What that character does, says, feels, can be uncanny if you connect with that character. Great stories have great characters, because people experiencing the story can easily embody that character in their mind and use their friends’ personalities as other characters, if they are deeply connected with the Story. Stories can show us different sides of the world, different ideas, different people, different lives. Stories can transport us to different worlds in seconds. Stories can twist and turn and are malleable and can bend and can explode and come back together, stories aren’t limited to a specific shape and size. Stories are organic, you can’t just write a great story immediately; you have to find it. And the greatest of stories stand the test of time, they’re universal and people who wrote them didn’t think about it scientifically. It’s all instinctive, intuitive. Billy Marshall Stoneking talks about the connecting with your tribe’s stories when you write because stories connect generations and its imprinted within your creative DNA. Stories can change who we are because we see different perspectives. We can learn from these perspectives and apply it to our own lives, because it would be like real people telling us true stories if the story deeply connected with any person.

This is why I want to tell stories of my own. I want to take an audience and take them for a wild ride over which they have no control at all. I want them to experience different emotions in a short span of time because those are the kind of movies that are emotionally draining and that actually matter. The most shallow stories are written without any understanding of what Story is actually about and I myself don’t know that right now. I want to feel Story in my veins, immerse in it and soak in it. Story can be told in many, many ways, but I have my eyes set on one medium: Cinema.

Cinema is the best way of telling a great Story: it combines both aural and visual sensations and instantly connects with people from the very first frame. Great movies have great stories behind them and movies are extremely popular all over the world. In this day and age especially, where books and written text is not as exposed to this generation, it is with movies that the biggest cultural impact and change will occur and I want to be a part of that change. Amazing movies give me adrenaline rushes and instill a feeling of awe about them that’s so indescribable. When there’s a perfect combination of sound and image, it is truly magical. But before I actually make movies, I want to get settled the ballpark of what kind of Stories I want to tell. There are infinite stories that I could tell, but intuitively I know there’s only a specific range of story material that I would want to convey through cinema because it would matter to me. Stories that don’t matter to me would result in stories that people don’t identify with because it would be so fake. So I want to take the time to explore ideas, themes and people to get an understanding of what type of ideas, themes and people affect me the most as a Storyteller and only then will I take the next step of learning, technically of how to make a good and watchable film. When I mean what kind of Stories, let me give you an example. Joss Whedon, when he went to Wesleyan University for his Undergraduate Degree, said he felt lost about what kind of movies he wanted to make. In his time at Wesleyan, he figured out that Feminism and Women Empowerment were themes that were important to him, but he previously DID NOT KNOW! Storytellers need to find those themes that they want to tackle, otherwise they will not be satisfied with any story they tell. Whedon subsequently wrote Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, which changed the TV landscape with a strong female lead and in every project that he tackles (including Firefly and The Avengers), there is always a strong female character, lead or supporting, in the mix of the story, because that’s what matters to him. Now, in time, my themes might change, but I need to find them first to tell a good story. This is why I don’t want to go to film school immediately.

In conclusion, Story matters to me the most and I want to tell stories. The End.