Ever since development on the long-gestating Ant-Man movie became a reality, Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige continually and consistently emphasized that it's an especially unique project that fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe "through the lens of Edgar Wright — which is the only reason we’re making the movie."
Well, they now need a new reason since Edgar Wright is officially out of the project. Gone. After pushing for the film and working on the script for a better part of a decade, and just as Ant-Man was about to enter production for its summer 2015 release, Wright has shockingly left. Did we mention Edgar Wright had already practiced and planned out shooting the action sequences and had a crucial hand in casting?
The official statement:
Marvel and Edgar Wright jointly announced today that the studio and director have parted ways on Marvel's "Ant-Man" due to differences in their vision of the film. The decision to move on is amicable and does not impact the release date on July 17, 2015. A new director will be announced shortly.
We can't reiterate how shocking this is since the project only exists because of Edgar Wright and what he told Kevin Feige a decade ago about being interested in Ant-Man, him having written a script for it for another studio before Marvel Studios reacquired the rights. The issue of creative differences knocking directors out of Marvel productions has been a common theme dating back to phase 1 of the MCU where Jon Favreau infamously had issues in renegotiating for Iron Man 2 and having to deal with a rushed production on an unfinished script. The first Captain America and Thor movies both saw their directors, Joe Johnston and Kenneth Branagh, respectively, opt not to return for their followups, and original Thor 2 director Patty Jenkins parted ways with Marvel as well in a similar fashion to Wright.
Throw in Alan Taylor - who ended up directing Thor: The Dark World - speaking candidly about the "stress" of working with Marvel around script coming in at the last minute and continually being revised during the shoot, and it's clear that it's not uncommon for friction to exist between the bigger picture franchise plans and universe, versus the individual creative minds behind each franchise installment. I bet Taylor won't be involved with Thor 3.
Then again, sometimes it clicks as it has with Joss Whedon, Anthony and Joe Russo who are back for the next Avengers and Captain America films, respectively. And for James Gunn, he says he's had it his own all along with Guardians of the Galaxy - another film for the studio which is fueled by a unique vision. He's spoken nothing but praise for Marvel.
With Ant-Man's core cast mostly filled out and a release date set, Marvel is already committed to Ant-Man hitting screens in 2015, even bumping it forward from its original fall release date to July. It therefore must play a larger role in the MCU, tying into other films. There's always the possibility that Ant-Man still might tie into the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron which releases two months earlier, or perhaps even setup some story elements for Captain America 3 which hits the following May.
Edgar Wright's unique style is impossible to replace or replicate, so his shoes are tough to fill if what Feige said about the director's "vision" was true, especially with the production beginning so soon (later this summer) and Wright having had a hand at every stage of its development for a large part of his career. We're very curious to see who Marvel taps next and as to what caused Wright and Marvel to part ways - was it story related? Casting? Production style?
There's likely a replacement coming soon or already in talks (rumors and trades claim this to be the case) but for Wright, this was his first opportunity to hit it big(ger) with a mainstream blockbuster. Then again, we're excited at the prospect of more original work from him.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. Who should direct Ant-Man?
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!
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