It's been two weeks (from the time of this writing) since Marvel announced that Ant-Man co-writer and director Edgar Wright had left the project over creative differences. In the aftermath, the studio has scrambled to find a replacement director - culling a list of comedy veterans in the hopes that one will be able to pick up where Wright left off. Industry reports suggested that Adam McKay (Anchorman), Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), Rawson Thurber (We're the Millers), and Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) were at the top of Marvel's list but, over the last week, Thurber and McKay passed on the project - causing the studio to widen their search, adding Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors) and Michael Dowse (Goon) as potential candidates.
That said, between the studio's official stance on the change-up and Marvel movie directors showing support for Wright in the days after his exit, one aspect of the production that has been (unsurprisingly) tight-lipped is the cast. Unlike Wright, Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Patrick Wilson, did not have the ability to leave the project once the filmmaker abandoned ship - raising the question: how do the film's stars feel about the situation?
In an interview with Schmoes Know, Douglas (who plays Hank Pym in the movie) echoes the overall sentiment surrounding the film - calling Wright's departure "disappointing." Check out the video interview and/or read the full quote below:
"I was very disappointed. I am a big fan of his movies. It’s a very disappointing situation. It happened very late in the game. I don’t think anybody’s quite recovered. My heart goes out to Edgar. He’s been involved with the project for a long time. But he’s talented enough that you’ll be hearing a whole lot from him - and I’m sure with a little vengeance."
Unsurprisingly, after nearly fifty years acting on film, Douglas comments with sincerity and respect for his former director but without raising a red flag that would ruffle Marvel's feathers. Some might view the answer as a cop-out - especially since Wright's script encouraged Douglas to board the project. As a result, the actor has to be concerned that the rug has been pulled out from underneath a high-profile film he's already committed to filming; yet, what else can Douglas (or any of the cast) say or do? For now, they just have to trust that Marvel will get the movie back on track - with a steady hand at the helm.
Regardless of who steps in to helm Ant-Man, the new director will face an uphill battle - which is one reason that contenders might not be lining up to take over. As we discuss on Monday's Screen Rant Underground Podcast, if Ant-Man underperforms when it arrives in 2015, moviegoers will claim the project was doomed without Wright. If the movie is a hit, fans will be grateful that whoever helmed the final film didn't screw up Wright's core ideas. The former director's presence looms large over the project - even if Wright felt the script rewrite no longer resembled his original vision.
While the situation might be disappointing for viewers and cast members alike, there's reason to be optimistic that (if Marvel can find the right person) Ant-Man could still provide a worthwhile ride. Without question, cinephiles were excited to see a quirky filmmaker like Wright helm a major blockbuster movie in The Avengers shared universe but, even without Wright, the Ant-Man character could deliver an action-comedy experience unlike anything else in the comic book movie genre.
As evidenced by the Ant-Man test footage that was shown two years ago at Comic-Con, the hero's mass-shifting ability opens up new possibilities for visual spectacle, spy infiltration set pieces, and even a little tongue-in-cheek humor. Considering superheroes are becoming a go-to for summer tentpole movies - Fox has successfully relaunched X-Men, Sony is hard at work on Amazing Spider-Man sequels as well as spinoffs, and Warner Bros. is preparing the way for a Justice League shared universe - it's more important than ever for filmmakers to surprise viewers with something new.
While man fans are eager to see a female-led Marvel film (such as Black Widow or Ms. Marvel) and a racially diverse hero in the starring role (we're looking at you Black Panther), Marvel Studios has already invested heavily, thanks to Wright's passion, in Ant-Man as an integral part of the shared universe. Given that the studio has films planned all the way through 2028, do not expect them to simply shelve Ant-Man - since several other in-development movies likely draw from characters and ideas that are going to be established alongside Hank Pym and Scott Lang.
We'll keep you up to date as we hear further official Ant-Man information. In the meantime, let's all keep our fingers crossed that, while the last two weeks have been "disappointing," Marvel will find someone that the cast, and fans, can rally behind.
Ant-Man is currently scheduled to open on July 17, 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Ant-Man, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.