[UPDATE: Adam McKay has dropped out of talks to direct Ant-Man. Scroll for details.]
It’s been a crazy week (or so) in the Marvel Studios movie news cycle. First came the shocking announcement that Edgar Wright is not directing Ant-Man, after having spent much of the last decade working on the superhero project; then, just yesterday, the news broke that Josh Brolin will be playing big baddie Thanos in upcoming Marvel Shared Universe installments; and now, we may know who’s replacing Wright at the helm of Ant-Man.
Wright is a fan-favorite for such critically-acclaimed works as the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End), but ultimately his vision of the Ant-Man property didn’t gel with Marvel Studios’ continually evolving plans, for how to best incorporate the eponymous superhero – and his peers – into the Avengers movie-verse. Despite that, the final Ant-Man film is still expected to combine heist action genre elements with a cheeky approach to humor, in keeping with Wright’s original vision.
This speculation is based on the shortlist of directors who’ve been eyed to replace Wright at the helm for Ant-Man, with such folk as Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) and Adam McKay (Anchorman 1 & 2, The Other Guys) – having demonstrated the ability to blend action tropes with satirical comedy before – making the cut. Yesterday afternoon, Rawson Thurber (We’re the Milers) was reported to have emerged as the front-runner to direct Ant-Man; now, however, it appears that McKay has begun full-fledged talks for him to take the job.
The latest Ant-Man director update news was first broken by AICN, but sources for Variety and THR have since confirmed the story (with Variety reporting that McKay is in “advanced talks” to direct Ant-Man).
McKay, who previously collaborated with Ant-Man lead Paul Rudd on the Anchorman films, is joining the Ant-Man project at a point where the original shooting script draft - penned by Wright and Joe Cornish (The Adventures of Tintin, Attack the Block) – has already been revised, in accordance with Marvel heads’ wishes – and thus, ought to be all ready to go, for the start of production. Likewise, the movie’s pre-visualization and storyboarding should be all but done, so it’s really down to McKay to just settle into the director’s chair and make sure the whole thing comes together (while still bringing some of his own personal touch to the proceedings).
Indeed, it should be interesting to see just how Ant-Man plays out – and whether it feels closer to McKay or Wright’s past work. Wright, in particular, generally favors a highly visually-oriented approach to storytelling and comedy. McKay is no stranger to action-oriented sight gags and/or visual humor (see the Other Guys clip, featured below), but his comedies tend to be more dialogue-heavy – though, to be fair, it’s not as though Wright’s ever been a slouch in the area of verbal humor or using sound for comedic effect, in his own movies.
McKay’s Ant-Man could be his most visually-precise film to date, in terms of its construction, since he has Wright’s pre-viz work to draw from. As far as marriages of arctic inclinations go, a quirky superhero vehicle crafted by McKay and Wright sounds like one that might play out fairly smoothly, all things considered.
We may always wonder what the Marvel film would’ve been like, had Wright remained onboard, but such is the way the penny sometimes drops on these studio-backed, big-budget, comic book adaptations (see: Patty Jenkins’ abandoned vision for Thor: The Dark World, Darren Aronofsky’s original plan for The Wolverine, and so on). Hopefully, the final result in this case of Ant-Man, will follow the trend of recent Marvel Studios releases and encompass a range of genre elements – rather than just unfold as a “goofy” superhero movie, that is.
Update: THR is reporting that Adam McKay – after being in active talks on Friday to direct Ant-Man – has abruptly dropped out of the running of his own accord.
Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Patrick Wilson, Michael Peña, Corey Stoll and Matt Gerald. It is currently scheduled to open in U.S. theaters on July 17th, 2015.