More on why Edgar Wright ditched “Ant-Man” and the future of Marvel Studios #EdgarWright

edgar wrightSay you’ve been working on a project for nearly a decade and just as it’s coming close to fruition you decide to walk away from it. That’s what happened with Edgar Wright, who’d been rumored/connected to/working on an “Ant-Man” project for Marvel Studios as far back as 2006.

Wright’s ties to Ant-Man date back before “Iron Man” set the new standard for Marvel comic films en route to “Marvel’s The Avengers” becoming the third highest-grossing movie of all time. His quirky take on the insect-sized adventures of Hank Pym and his successor, Scott Lang, won over Marvel execs who stated they didn’t have a way to properly convey the character to the big screen. There’s a reason Ant-Man, a founding member of the comic book Avengers, wasn’t even introduced in any of the five lead-ins to “Avengers.”

According to an article by The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s original June 2 shooting date was put on hiatus after Marvel president Kevin Feige ordered revisions of Wright and Joe Cornish’s script.This is a major departure from Feige’s comments to MTV last year when he said Wright’s vision “is the only reason we’re making the movie.”

Marvel Ant-Man concept actionAccording to sources, Wright had been willing to make revisions earlier in the process. But the new rewrites took place without Wright’s input, and when he received Marvel’s new version early during the week of May 19, he walked, prompting a joint statement announcing his exit “due to differences in their visions of the film.”

“Kevin Feige [and his top lieutenants] run Marvel with a singularity of vision, but when you take a true auteur and throw him into the mix, this is what you get,” says a source. “They don’t want you to speak up too much or have too much vision. People who have never worked there don’t understand how they operate, but if you trust them, they have an amazing track record.”

Marvel and Feige may need to start looking at not just creative filmmakers, but those who make the best collaborators as Marvel Studios is starting to earn its bad reputation as being difficult for those who don’t fall in line with the company stance.

edward nortonBoth Edward Norton (“The Incredible Hulk“) and Terrence Howard (“Iron Man”) were recast after clashes with MS execs; “Captain America: The First Avenger” Director Joe Johnston didn’t return to direct the sequel despite his well-received final “Avengers” lead-in; “Monster” director Patty Jenkins was originally slated to replace Kenneth Branagh (who opted not to return for the “Thor” sequel), but she was fired and replaced by Alan Taylor, who himself reportedly had difficulty meeting the Marvel vision for “Thor: The Dark World.” This also doesn’t account for the well-documented issues the studio had in making sure its Avengers actors were well-compensated.

Like a superstar athlete, Marvel Studios is rolling along so well that no one really wants to rock the boat and miss out on a massive payday. Even after taking out the top two highest grossing films — The Avengers’ ($623 million domestically) and “Iron Man 3” ($409 million domestically) — Marvel Studios’ seven other films average a domestic gross of $225 million, which easily makes it the most bankable franchise since “Harry Potter” and “The Twilight Saga.” And even if the far quirkier “Guardians of the Galaxy” bombs, Marvel Studios has no intent on relinquishing its box office dominance with “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” set for 2015 and Captain America sequel set for the next future.

John_ByrneBut as more filmmakers find themselves less enthusiastic about working with Marvel Studios’ maybe this could pave the way for more talent to turn to Warner Bros. and expand/enhance the DC Comics’ cinematic universe? After all, there’s a precedence for disgruntled Marvel employees turning to DC from legends like Jack Kirby, Neal Adams and John Byrne departing and taking their talents to the major rival company. Think Warner Bros. could benefit from Wright’s take on a character like Blue Beetle or Elongated Man? And how would Norton fare as Starman? Granted, it’s not like these filmmakers are obliged to ever again go into comic book films, but a WB exec sure could make a compelling pitch to some of this talent that they could showcase their talent and stick it to Marvel Studios at the same time. Stranger things have happened, right?

 

  • Fred

    Jeff I think the MCU has been on an incredible run since 2008 and they obviously know what path they want to take, they have a clear vision of where they are and where they want to go and I certainly respect that and I admire that. Now they have made some missteps as a studio as well, no denying or getting around that. Now replacing Johnson on Captain America with the Russo Brothers turned out to be a stroke of genius as Cap 2 was brilliant. I think Marvel is moving along fine, but they do need to tighten their ship a little more with their directors in the future outside of Whedon and the Russo Brothers. I think Marvel has a clear vision for Ant-Man and so did Wright, but I think his vision was probably too disconnected with the rest of the MCU, that’s my best guess. I’ll also say this, I don’t like the fact that Wright was on this project for a good 8 years with no movie on the big screen, that’s just too damn long man, come on now lol. Ant-Man wasn’t in “The Avengers” for two reasons in my opinion, one Wright probably didn’t want it and two I think Marvel realized he just didn’t have the appeal of the other characters. Sometimes what works well in the comics don’t always translate well on the big screen, I think that’s the problem with Ant-Man, he’s not as visually appealing as say Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Ms. Marvel and as we’ll soon see with Scarlet Witch, Vision and Quicksilver looks to be. That might just be a little of my own bias as well, but Pym as Giant man is another story, now that alter ego is more appealing. I’m also not that crazy on Pym being older and Lang supposedly being the featured Ant-Man, eventhough they’ve put together a fine cast and I would go see the movie regardless. To be honest, I would have much rather seen a Black Panther or Dr. Strange film kick off Phase 3, that’s just me.

  • Totally agree on the Russos improving on Cap.
    Pre-Iron Man I’m not sure Marvel thought it could make its own movies and was willing to let Wright hold on to Ant-Man for so long. That’s pretty crazy though.
    I’m completely with you on shelving the Lang storyline and just making Hank Pym the only Ant-Man for this movie.
    Dr. Strange is definitely on the way and I have to imagine Black Panther is on the real short list for another standalone or Avengers 3.

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  • Ben

    It’s a shame because it feels like there’s a darker edge to Marvel studios that we’re not seeing. I love what they’re doing but this could be their first truly major mistake.

  • Which I suppose is true for every studio, but MS has made many more right moves than bad ones so guess we’ll have to hope for the best with this one.