It’s ironic that Marvel Studios has been long heralded as the comic book movie studio that fans deserve – primarily because of the perception amongst said “fans” that Marvel would always honor its own characters and canon in the way that other studios – like Fox and Sony – would not.
Now, with Marvel Phase Two, we are seeing some radical departures from traditional Marvel comic book canon (see: The Mandarin in Iron Man 3) – and that deviation will continue all the way through The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the culminating chapter of Phase Two and immediate predecessor to Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man movie, which will kick off Marvel Phase Three in fall of 2015. As many Marvel fanboys have noticed, that ordering - Avengers 2 before Ant-Man - has been more than a little problematic, where canon is concerned.
In the comics, Ultron – the Skynet-style artificial intelligence/robot that often terrorizes The Avengers – was created by scientist Hank Pym, the alter-ego of Ant-Man. It’s still unclear whether or not Hank Pym will be introduced in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but we do know that Ultron will be getting a (no pun) retooled origin story, with speculation leaning toward Tony Stark’s A.I. system Jarvis going rogue and creating the villain (in some form or fashion).
This is, as stated, a bold deviation from Marvel canon – one that will inevitably leave some fans upset – which is why Ant-Man writer/director Edgar Wright discussed the reasoning for keeping Ultron’s origin out of Hank Pym’s movie, while speaking with Huffpo:
[Ultron] was never in my script. Because even just to sort of set up what Ant-Man does is enough for one movie. It’s why I think “Iron Man” is extremely successful because it keeps it really simple. You have one sort of — the villain comes from the hero’s technology. It’s simple. So I think why that film really works and why, sometimes, superhero films fail — or they have mixed results — because they have to set up a hero and a villain at the same time. And that’s really tough. And sometimes it’s unbalanced.
You know, when I was younger I used to love Tim Burton’s “Batman.” I was like 15 and even then I was aware, “This is really the Joker’s film.” It’s like, the Joker just takes over and Batman, you really don’t learn too much about him. Comics haveyears to explain this stuff and in a movie you have to focus on one thing. So it’s about kind of streamlining, I think. Some of the most successful origin films actually have a narrower focus. You cannot put 50 years of the Marvel universe into a movie. It’s impossible.
With that mind-state, Wright seems to feel extra fortunate that his subject is Ant-Man, a superhero that is far from mainstream in the minds of casual moviegoers:
I think there’s something in that it’s a lesser known character, there’s hopefully more license. For the one percent of people who are like, “Wait, Hank Pym would never do that!” there’s 99 percent going, “Who’s Hank Pym?” So, to me, the source material is great but it also frees you up to be like: I’m going to make a movie. The movie is not going to represent 50 years of Marvel comics because that’s impossible. But I’m going to make a 100 minute movie — or 110 minutes [laughs].
Meanwhile, how do you feel about the changes being made to the Ultron and Hank Pym characters? Do you feel betrayed by Marvel, or are they just doing what they need to do to make successful and entertaining films? Let us know in the comments.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron Will be in theaters on May 1, 2015; Ant-Man on November 6, 2015