The Wrightless Ant-Man (or Why Marvel Studios Isn’t the Enemy)
In what came as a shock to many in the Nerd community, it was announced last week that Edgar Wright had dropped out of directing Ant-Man. Seeing as how the Shaun of the Dead director had been linked to film as far back as 2008, many were surprised to hear that he suddenly left the picture. With him gone, it’s safe to say that for a lot of us, our interest is gone as well.
Wright’s not the only big name creative to jump ship from Marvel Studios though. A day later Drew Goddard, who was originally supposed to be the showrunner of the Daredevil Netflix series, jumped off the Marvel train. With this news hitting hours after Wright leaving, it naturally caused a lot of people to wonder just what was going on at Marvel Studios. However, Goddard had previously signed on to write and direct Sony’s Sinister Six spin-off film, and is staying on Daredevil in a producing capacity, so it’s not a complete departure like Wright’s.
There have been rumblings that the Wright departure wasn’t due to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, but someone even higher up the CEO ladder than he was. Allegedly there were changes made to Wright’s script, and even though he didn’t agree with them, he decided to play ball. But it seems like after this most recent batch of changes Wright had had enough. I’ve read that Feige has been supporting Wright’s vision for Ant-man since he first expressed interest in directing it, so I highly doubt that any of the recent problems extend from him suddenly having a falling out with the Marvel head. So did it have to do with something at Marvel or Disney…..or is it possible that Marvel and Wright simply decided that it was better to part ways than phone something in?
The online community was quick to rush to Wright’s defense and demonize Marvel Studios (even the mighty Joss expressed his solidarity when the news broke). But Marvel isn’t the bad guy here. Yes, I said it. And if you think about it, it makes sense that the studio and Wright would’ve probably butted heads a little.
Let me ask you this: Have you been enjoying the connective universe you’ve been seeing since 2008? Were you amazed that The Avengers happened, and worked so well? Did seeing Nick Fury pop up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the events of Winter Soldier fill you with nerd joy?
Well you can’t have that if the individual pieces don’t fit. Marvel could get Stephen Spielberg to direct Doctor Strange, but if his ideas and vision don’t mesh with what Marvel has planned, then he’s out. If you want Marvel to continue their cinematic universe, you have to believe that their directors have to be willing to give up a little creative control for it to work within their machine. It takes great skill for a director to not only be able to work on one of these films, but also make it work within in the Marvel machine. One of the reasons why the X-Men franchise is such a mess at Fox is because they allowed different directors to tease certain things that they would MAYBE touch on in possible future installments (remember “Emma Frost” showing up in X-Men Origins: Wolverine?).
Yes, it sucks that Wright wasn’t allowed to see Ant-Man through, but I agree with Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn’s thoughts on the split. When asks for his thoughts on Wright’s departure, he put it into amazing perspective:
“Sometimes you have friends in a relationship. You love each of them dearly as individuals and think they’re amazing people. When they talk to you about their troubles, you do everything you can to support them, to keep them together, because if you love them both so much doesn’t it make sense they should love each other? But little by little you realize, at heart, they aren’t meant to be together – not because there’s anything wrong with either of them, but they just don’t have personalities that mesh in a comfortable way. They don’t make each other happy. Although it’s sad to see them split, when they do, you’re surprisingly relieved, and excited to see where their lives take them next.
It’s easy to try to make one party “right” and another party “wrong” when a breakup happens, but it often isn’t that simple. Or perhaps it’s even more simple than that – not everyone belongs in a relationship together. It doesn’t mean they’re not wonderful people.
And that’s true of both Edgar Wright and Marvel. One of them isn’t a person, but I think you get what I mean.”
Gunn’s 100% right on this. While we may think that Marvel pushed Wright out, or Wright was being a prima donna and balked at the changes to his script, we don’t know exactly what happened, and it’s more likely that the two of them just couldn’t see eye-to-eye on what they wanted out of the final project. Wright’s films have a pretty common theme stylistically, and I’m not sure they would’ve fit with what Marvel has had in their films. It would’ve been interesting to see him try though, and I don’t believe we would’ve gotten Paul Rudd or Michael Douglas to sign on for this movie without Wright’s involvement (hopefully they’re still under lock and key contract wise, and Ant-Man doesn’t suffer more creative hits before it hits theaters).
Marvel Studios is fantastic. Edgar Wright is fantastic. They just couldn’t make something fantastic together, which sucks, but at least it’s a (seemingly) mutual decision, and it was made before filming started. It’s possible that Wright realized that the project wasn’t going to live up to what he wanted, and he decided that he’d rather move on then stick to something that he was no longer passionate about. I’d much rather see Wright make something that he’s 100% into than take a paycheck and phone in something that he’s not proud of, and I’m sure Marvel feels the same way. We’d all like to point the finger at someone, anyone, for this happening, but like Gunn said, there’s no one really at fault here. The two just couldn’t come to an agreement, and while that sucks, this isn’t going to stop Marvel from creating more movies, and it’s certainly not going to stop Wright from directing movies. In fact, it’s probably opened him up to do a lot more interesting things.