This week started out pretty good for Marvel Studios with the extremely positive response received by the latest trailer for their big summer flick Guardians of the Galaxy that was released on Monday. Now that it’s Friday, we’re getting one of the worse pieces of Marvel-related news imaginable.
Action-comedy filmmaker extraordinaire Edgar Wright has departed Marvel’s upcoming Phase Three kick-off film Ant-Man as director. Wright has been attached to directing the film long before the studio became a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. But just as principal photography was gearing up to begin, the universally adored British director behind such classics as Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World decided to split with Marvel “due to differences in their vision of the film,” or so a joint statement issued by Wright and the studio claimed.
Marvel reportedly has another director already waiting in the wings to take over for Wright, co-wrote the script with Joe Cornish, which as of now is presumably still being used. This surprising news will not impact Ant-Man‘s release date which is set for next summer, just two months after the bow of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The cast, which includes Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, and Patrick Wilson, is also remaining in place.
This news gravely disappoints me. Wright is one of the few truly original and innovative filmmakers we have working today who never fails to deliver an instant classic to the masses every time he steps behind the camera. Given the sizable chunk of his time of the planet Earth that had been devoted to making Ant-Man the best film possible, there was no reason to suspect it would be a complete failure. It seems wrong in so many ways that Wright and Marvel would only just now realize they had conflicting visions for this particular feature.
Ant-Man was front-loaded with recognizable stars who appeared to be perfectly cast in their respective parts and has been building tremendous since test footage shot by Wright was screened to great fanfare at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con. I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but I was probably looking forward to seeing Edgar Wright playing in the spectacular Marvel Movie Universe a little more than Age of Ultron.
Marvel Studios is notorious for its dealings with filmmakers who are used to having more control over their films than the executives or financiers who gave them the green light. You either buckle down and submit to being a team player or you soon find yourself given the heave ho in favor of a cheaper, more submissive replacement. Perhaps Wright finally realized he couldn’t make the film he wanted under those conditions, or the film he wanted to make was no longer what Marvel wanted.
Something shady is definitely going on behind the studio-mandated press propaganda and it’s starting to cast a grim pall over the film that was intended to launch Marvel’s Phase Three line-up and further cement its reputation as the home for big-budget superhero blockbusters made with unconventional visions by some of the most unlikely names in the business. Whoever Marvel has cooling their heels in the bullpen until Wright cleans out his office will possibly do a fine job, but man, think of what Wright would have done with this material.
Ant-Man, directed by someone already deemed a talentless hack compared to Edgar Wright but yet to be revealed, is still set to open on July 17, 2015. For now anyway.