Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - okay, pretty much everybody - got blind-sided late last week, when the news emerged that Edgar Wright is no longer directing Marvel Studios' Ant-Man movie. The Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World filmmaker had been working on the comic book adaptation for around seven years now - and with production slated to begin very soon, Wright's departure from the project at this juncture, came as all the larger a shock for it.
Latino Review was quick to assemble and publish a report on the reason for Wright leaving Ant-Man, with the primary issue cited as being forced script rewrites - rewrites that were, apparently, "Poorer, homogenized, and not [Wright's] vision," which led the director to step away from the project. A fresher insider report confirms this general idea; in addition, said article reveals a few more details about the break-up, and what needs to be done next, to keep Ant-Man moving down the pipeline at a steady pace.
Marvel Studios heads, according to THR, had temporarily halted forward progress on Ant-Man some weeks ago, so that the superhero film would no longer be able to make its originally-planned June shooting start date. MCU architect Kevin Feige thereafter ordered the aforementioned script revisions; problem was, although Wright had been open to amending the Ant-Man screenplay as necessary before then (having already tinkered with the script so it better fit in the MCU), these new rewrites did not have his blessing:
According to sources, Wright had been willing to make revisions earlier in the process. But the new rewrites took place without Wright's input, and when he received Marvel's new version early during the week of May 19, he walked, prompting a joint statement announcing his exit "due to differences in their visions of the film."
We've already talked in depth about Marvel's track record of not seeing eye to eye with filmmakers who have distinct voices and styles - though, of course, the studios' output thus far, speaks for itself. Either way, the following quote from a THR source seems reasonable enough:
Kevin Feige [and his top lieutenants] run Marvel with a singularity of vision, but when you take a true auteur and throw him into the mix, this is what you get. They don't want you to speak up too much or have too much vision. People who have never worked there don't understand how they operate, but if you trust them, they have an amazing track record.
Indeed, while there's a lot of excitement among the moviegoing public for the studios' next release, Guardians of the Galaxy, the off-kilter nature of James Gunn's film has apparently left Marvel executives feeling nervous (and, to be fair, not without reason) - enough so that the studio, as a whole, feels it's already "gone outside its comfort zone" with Guardians, and that Wright's Ant-Man might've been "too quirky," to serve as the next non-Avengers installment in the MCU after Gunn's movie.
If there's a silver lining to be found in all that discussion, though, it's the implication that Guardians of the Galaxy might well be the oddball change-of-pace for Marvel that many have been hoping for. Similarly, now it looks as though Wright is headed off to make another film (potentially, an original one) that feels distinctly like "his"; Ant-Man should also be okay, since Marvel Studios is simply too much of a well-oiled machine to allow it to fall by the wayside. At worst, a release date delay might be in order.
Speaking of which: there appears to some disagreement on that issue, as far as what insiders are claiming. THR's report mentions that currently-unoccupied "key crew positions" will soon be filled - after the original crew members walked in the wake of Wright leaving. Meanwhile, though some doubt the film will be pulled back together in time to make its previous July 2015 release date, sources "close to the studio" believe it could still manage the task and not compromise the final result, artistically. We'll see, of course.
We'll keep you posted on the status of Ant-Man as the story develops.
'Ant-Man' Artwork by Julie Bell