Free Fire and High-Rise director Ben Wheatley is currently working on a "big Marvel film," according to popular British comedian Bob Mortimer. Wheatley has been a rising star in indie circles, garnering praise for his twisted sense of humor and talent for suspense, so it was perhaps only a matter of time before he landed a big-budget project.
Recent years have seen studios picking up buzzed-about indie directors left and right, with Colin Trevorrow hired for Jurassic World following his feature debut Safety Not Guaranteed, What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi landing Thor: Ragnarok, and Jon Watts directing Spider-Man: Homecoming as his third feature film, after Sundance selection Cop Car and low-budget horror Clown. Given this trend, it's not surprising to hear a report of another indie director joining the superhero movie business.
Speaking on the Adam Buxton Podcast (via CBM), Mortimer talked about a film that he had in development about a highly valuable glove owned by Michael Jackson and a group of people trying to get their hands on it. Wheatley had been attached to direct the movie when fate (in the form of a big Hollywood studio) intervened:
"It's just a road movie thing, but we were about to start that and then, you know Ben Wheatley? Ben Wheatley got offered one of the big Marvel films, and so it weren't for us to say, 'You ain't doing that, then.' [Laughs] 'You've got to do ours!'"
There are many, many, many Marvel movies currently in development across the three different studios that own Marvel characters - Fox, Sony and Disney - but if we had to take a guess as to which one Wheatley is attached to, it would be Gambit. The X-Men spinoff movie is supposed to begin filming very soon, but there hasn't yet been a director announced. The project has already had several different directors attached, with Gore Verbinski being the most recent depature, but Fox seems determined to get things underway in time for Gambit's planned 2019 release.
Another possibility is that Wheatley is developing a movie for Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is currently deeply shrouded in mystery but has surely been mapped out to a certain extent (Marvel Studios boss Kein Feige recently said that he'd had meetings about plans for 2024-2025 MCU movies). Interestingly, Wheatley's two most recent films both starred major MCU actors: Brie Larson (a.k.a. Captain Marvel) played a gun-toting arms deal broker in Free Fire, and Tom Hiddleston (a.k.a. Loki) was the protagonist of Wheatley's High-Rise, an adaptation of the dystopian novel by J.G. Ballard.
Wheatley is a talented director with a very clear vision in every one of his movies, so the idea of him being let loose with a big budget and lots of superheroes is intriguing. Let's hope we find out more out this "big Marvel film" soon.