Marvel Studios now has five movies under its belt, with a sixth coming next summer in The Avengers, two confirmed for 2013 and another pair of unannounced films scheduled for 2014. All of these movies exist in a shared universe, taking part in an ongoing continuity with an overarching storyline running congruently in the background.
While seeing movies follow the comic books in this respect makes The Avengers possible, this strategy does also have its downside as we saw most evidently in Iron Man 2. Each movie by Marvel Studios must follow certain guidelines and must include certain characters portrayed in a very specific way, thus restricting the creative freedom of the filmmakers and talent involved.
Combine this lack of creative freedom with Marvel's super tight money management and strict deadlines and we have Iron Man 1 filming without a complete script and Iron Man 2 becoming a complete mess, so much so that Mickey Rourke had bad things to say about Marvel. Then there's Ed Norton who couldn't even get along with Marvel enough to return for what would have been one of his coolest roles ever in The Avengers.
All this to say, Jon Favreau felt Marvel didn't really know what they were doing with the next Iron Man movie and he wanted out. Kenneth Branagh also doesn't want to return for Thor 2, so Marvel brought in Monster director Patty Jenkins who would have been the first female director to work for the studio. After she signed on, met with the cast, all things were positive until out of the blue she also dropped out. Why?
THR reports that like Branagh, "creative differences" are what made Jenkins pass on the job she was so excited for, but it's not all negative, at least on the surface. Apparently, she's in line to direct another film for the studio down the road, one that's not a sequel.
"I have had a great time working at Marvel. We parted on very good terms, and I look forward to working with them again."
Thor 2 is still on schedule and Marvel is reportedly going to replace Jenkins quickly - they just need to find a director who will eagerly follow all of Marvel's demands and comply with the pre-established story arcs and creative direction. It's a shame Jenkins couldn't do her thing as her character-driven and dramatic expertise would lend itself well for a Thor sequel, where the first one had too much shine and camp factor.
With so many of Marvel's directors dropping out and Joe Johnston (Captain America) not signing until after seeing where The Avengers leaves the character he helped establish, it's interesting to see how the shared Marvel cinematic universe affects those behind the cameras and what they're allowed to do.
As our own Kofi Outlaw questioned, is The Avengers hurting other Marvel movies?
Let us hope Joss Whedon knocks it out of the park with The Avengers and that the solo movie sequels that come out afterwards (Thor 2 and Shane Black's Iron Man 3) bump up the quality.
The Avengers opens May 4, 2012 and Thor 2 hits theaters in the on November 15, 2013
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