You may have groaned in dismay when Edgar Wright bowed out of Marvel’s Ant-Man back in May; alternately, you may have breathed a sigh of relief at his departure. Either way, now that Wright is out of the picture and Peyton Reed has the reins, fans (of either Wright, or Ant-Man, or both) won’t get to see what kind of frenetic, whiz-bang capers the Shaun of the Dead director might have orchestrated in his take on size-altering thief-turned-superhero Scott Lang.
Wright’s exodus has been glumly received by several of his Marvel colleagues. Iron Man‘s Jon Favreau and Guardians of the Galaxy ace James Gunn both took neutral stances while treating the split as a bummer overall; meanwhile Joss Whedon and, of course, Wright himself responded in more subversive terms. Only Michael Douglas (who plays Henry Pym, the original Ant-Man and Lang’s mentor) made clear his frank disappointment, which Michael Douglas can do, because he’s Michael Douglas.
That quintet can now add Evangeline Lilly‘s thoughts to their own; speaking with BuzzFeed in a recent all-encompassing interview, the future Hope Van Dyne expressed her admiration for Wright’s script while also acknowledging why the disunion between him and Marvel was necessary. She’s halfway between being totally let down and completely understanding (which is maybe the very definition of “fair and balanced), as you can see, below.
I mean, they’ve established a universe, and everyone has come to expect a certain aesthetic [and] a certain feel for Marvel films. And what Edgar was creating was much more in the Edgar Wright camp of films. They were very different. And I feel like, if [Marvel] had created Edgar’s incredible vision — which would have been, like, classic comic book — it would have been such a riot to film [and] it would have been so much fun to watch. [But] it wouldn’t have fit in the Marvel Universe. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb, no matter how good it was. It just would have taken you away from this cohesive universe they’re trying to create. And therefore it ruins the suspended disbelief that they’ve built.”
This feels awfully similar to Favreau’s reaction from this past summer, and it’s hard to disagree with the echoed observation; Marvel’s house style doesn’t match up well with Wright’s frenetic personal aesthetic. Since 2008, the studio has ensured that their films look, sound, and feel similar, all the better to give the sensation that the stories they tell share the same real estate in one cinematic universe. It’s an approach that makes a lot of sense from a brand perspective, but leaves only a little breathing room for creative direction.
In that respect, Wright’s Ant-Man would have been a conspicuous entry among the rest of the Marvel movie canon; when you watch a Wright film, you know you’re watching a Wright film, whether it’s The World’s End or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but Marvel wants viewers to watch Marvel films, not Edgar Wright films (or films by any other auteur). Whether you’re okay with that as a moviegoer is up to you, but in the business of franchise maintenance, Marvel’s decision to prize continuity is shrewd.
So Lilly’s remarks are spot-on: in Wright’s hands, Ant-Man would draw a lot of attention to itself, which might have caused it to clang against the MCU at large. At the same time, though, if you are frustrated over Wright leaving the production, your grievances may increase upon reading Lilly’s adulation for Wright’s and Joe Cornish’s screenplay. There’s a lot that Wright and his energetic editing techniques could do with the character. A shame that audiences won’t get to see that for themselves.
Ant-Man hits theaters July 17th, 2015
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