Before Edgar Wright left Ant-Man, Marvel had faced its fair share of disputes with actors and directors over creative differences and contracts. Terrence Howard didn’t reprise his role as Colonel James Rhodes in Iron Man 2 for financial reasons; Marvel endured challenging negotiations with Robert Downey Jr. before the actor signed on for both sequels to The Avengers. Behind the camera, Jon Favreau was the most publicized example of directors who stepped away from Marvel Studios on the basis of creative differences - that is, until Edgar Wright.
Wright dropped out of directing Marvel’s Ant-Man, which led to the much-talked about process of recruiting a new person to helm the project, until Marvel hired Peyton Reed (The Break Up, Yes Man) as a replacement.
Following Wright’s departure, fellow Marvel directors Joss Whedon (The Avengers: Age of Ultron) and James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) responded to the news on social media. Now, Favreau, who had his own disagreements with the studio, has expressed his thought’s on the situation.
In an interview with ShortList promoting his new indie film, Chef - read our review - Favreau spoke about Wright’s experience of working with studios in the past as well as the difficulties of creating a movie within a shared universe. Similar to Gunn’s comments, Favreau took the neutral position of someone watching two friends going through a breakup.
Read Favreau’s full quote:
Edgar’s a dear friend of mine - I was so looking forward to his version of ‘Ant-Man’. All Edgar’s films have been studio films, it’s not like he’s never made one before. I think he’s been used to a situation where he can have tremendous creative say around his story and casting, and Marvel has built an entire franchise around their style of telling stories. I know both parties well, and I respect his decision to see that he wasn’t going to be fulfilled in the process. That’s all I can really say.
As the director of Iron Man, which launched the studio’s shared cinematic universe, Favreau also spoke about the impact that movie had on all successive Marvel films. In part, he said the success of Iron Man was due to it filling a void left by the James Bond films. Moviegoers were lacking a “humorous cad adventurer” and Marvel was looking for a way to “class” up their brand; they found the answer in Downey Jr.
Read Favreau’s quote:
That archetype had not been filled in a long time. Through ‘Iron Man,' Marvel found its tone and voice, but nothing was expected of it. And then the success came, and then there was pressure to continue that brand, and that’s where it becomes more challenging.
Shared universes are relatively new to Hollywood, but there has been a significant push for shared superhero universes in particular with Sony and Fox opening their Spider-Man and X-Men franchises - though, in the case of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the shared universe push had some feeling that the film couldn't stand on its own. After the critical response to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we were left wondering whether shared universes are hurting individual superhero films.
From the apparent strains put on both Favreau and Wright, Marvel’s shared universe may also be hurting superhero films behind the camera as well. After all the difficulties with Favreau, Iron Man 2 had the poorest box office showing of all three Iron Man films. Whether the creative differences with Wright will have an effect on Ant-Man won’t be seen until the movie opens next year.
Ant-Man will hit theaters July 17th, 2015. Chef is in theaters now.