No amount of Doctor Strange news or Guardians of the Galaxy marketing can keep diehard Marvel movie fans from wondering what’s going on with Ant-Man. Two weeks ago, Edgar Wright (The World’s End) unexpectedly parted ways with Marvel Studios over the “vision” of the project and it was bad news for fans who’ve followed the film’s development.
Wright is the only reason Ant-Man exists as a solo character movie, after having pitched it to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige eight years ago who in turn only greenlit the project because of Wright’s unique style and plans for it. With a cast in place, a start date set, production was almost ready to begin. Except it wasn’t. And it still isn’t.
The project that represents the first chapter of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the first movie coming in the wake of next summer’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron – is in desperate need of a director and the search is seemingly a challenging one for a variety of reasons. Stepping into Edgar Wright’s shoes is no easy task, especially with the growing negative publicity surrounding the project.
If you ask super-hot-right-now comedy-action directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (22 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) what the best choice would be – and MTV actually did – it would be to get Edgar Wright back or “abandon ship” and try again later. But they’re not currently who Marvel is seeking out to takeover the project.
The initial shortlist of replacements placed a spotlight on four directors with proven comedy backgrounds: Adam McKay (Anchorman 1 & 2, The Other Guys), Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies, 50/50), Rawson Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re the Millers) and Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad). Since then, all of these people have dropped out of talks or were not available.
Then we heard Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors) and Michael Dowse (Goon) were being eyed as potential directorial candidates. Now, according to THR, Peyton Reed (The Break-Up, Yes Man) and David Wain (Role Models, Wanderlust) are two current contenders for the gig as well. Again, note the comedy backgrounds of all the names listed.
Reed shares a Marvel connection, having been involved early with bringing the Fantastic Four to life at Twentieth Century Fox before – get this – exiting in 2003 over “creative differences.” How funny would it be if he took over from someone who did the same? According to The Wrap, Reed is the frontrunner. As for Wain, he’s likely involved because of his close relationship with Ant-Man star Paul Rudd, having made five movies with him (They Came Together being the latest).
It’s going to be a challenge to build excitement for Ant-Man until there’s footage to show, with many of the directors likely feeling the same way we do about the situation, and it doesn’t help when one of its stars – Michael Douglas – expresses disappointment that Edgar Wright is no longer helming the project. Much like he made the project a reality, Wright helped cast the leads as well.
Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Patrick Wilson, Michael Peña, Corey Stoll and Matt Gerald.
Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!