It was the walkout heard round the geek world. After years of being attached to the story of a future Avenger-in-training that could talk to ants, director/co-writer Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) officially departed from the crew of Ant-Man after the cast and release date were in place. So what happened?
Apparently from what we can gather it seemed Wright submitted a script (along with fellow scriber Joe Cornish) that was alternated a few times by Marvel Studios. Wright and Cornish tried to meet their expectations while also keeping their own creative side intact. Marvel deemed it still not good enough, and brought in new writers. Once it passed by Wright’s eyes with no remaining elements intact by himself and Cornish, the director of the infamous Cornetto trilogy decided to bail over “creative differences.”
Now, it seemed that Wright may have given up too easily and not fought for at least some of his own design. However, since he did rewrite the script several times over trying to bring in more of Marvel’s vision, the guy did at least try. But like Sam Raimi with Spider-Man, when a studio will not compromise with ideas because they want more spectacle and less substance, there is not much enjoyment in doing a movie that has none of your talent within it.
I believe that the director had every right to walk the project. Yes, Marvel wants to make money and have their ideas out there for audiences to see, but let’s be honest, this is a movie called Ant-Man. To bring that sort of ridiculous character out into cinemas without it being treated as a joke initially is going to require someone with gusto to make it work.
Wright is that guy. He has always been that guy. While low on the radar, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a ridiculous concept that worked because Wright knew how to tackle the material and make it fun. The man who took on a dimwitted bass playing Canadian fighting off several evil exes of a mysterious girl was a shoo in for something like Ant-Man. Who else can pull off a character so obscure and, I guess for a lack of better word, different?
And obviously since now a new director has to be hired and filming has to start ASAP (release date is July 17th, 2015), the script won’t see any changes, which will make it even worse. Watch any of Wright’s films or his TV series Spaced and tell me the guy isn’t a great writer/director. Marvel basically shoved one of the most unique directors of this generation out the door.
This news obviously upsets me. I love Wright. I love everything he’s done. I was dying to see him direct one of my favorite comedic actors in Paul Rudd. The pure idea of having this movie done by this man with that one actor made me excited beyond anything, probably more than any Marvel movie out there right now. Ok maybe not Avengers, but still.
Now my interest has gone down immediately. How the hell can the studio fix this? Who can possibly save Ant-Man?
Wright’s departure will also rock the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to its core. Hell, it has already started. Not only did James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, indirectly throw potshots at the studio who currently gave him an obscure source to work with, but Joss Whedon (director of…do I really have to say this…Avengers) saluted Wright with a Cornetto wrapper via twitter. Even Whedon, Marvel’s golden boy, who is currently filming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron releases that the big M is buckling.
Back to Gunn, it seems that he could tap into more of his creative side with Guardians because really, nobody knows who they are. Yeah, Ant-Man is a soon to be Avenger, but really, how can you push concrete thoughts onto a character that needs to appeal to audiences?
I had a Facebook convo with fellow pop-break writer Jason Stives the other day about this whole ordeal. He believes that Marvel changed Wright’s script because they were worried about his track record, which I could understand. To be frank, his movies haven’t brought in much money, and they studio obviously wants to make bank. But they wasted time hiring him because if you watch an Edgar Wright film, he has a particular style. Did Marvel not know this? Did they already have an idea in mind for a script? Why did they wait so long to discuss issues? Wright was attached to the project for so long, and this happens a year before the movie is set to come out?
After keeping the plates spinning for seven years, the whole idea of a Marvel Cinematic Universe is crumbling based on the departure of one man. Two directors who are part of the same universe are now firing back. In addition, Whedon is done after Avengers 2. That may not have anything to do with Wright but just like him helming Ant-Man, who the hell can take on the Avengers like Whedon?
It may seem that the only future that Marvel has in stone is Guardians, which comes out in August, and the upcoming Captain America 3, due two years from now. Wright’s departure may change nothing, or it may change everything. Because let’s be honest: when you have Marvel’s golden child Joss Whedon side with a person who is fed up with the studio, the ripple effect begins. Edgar Wright standing his ground may make the ground fall out from underneath Marvel. It’s not much now, but any considered director of a future MCU film may think twice before signing on the dotted line.