The news today that Edgar Wright would no longer direct “Ant-Man” – but that the movie, set to kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three, immediately following 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” would continue under another director – seemed like a bump in the road that Marvel’s been building since before “Iron Man” came out in 2008.
Maybe a major bump.
It’s possible we’ll find out what “creative differences” occurred between Wright, maker of “Shaun of the Dead,” and Marvel and MCU honcho Kevin Feige. These things happen, but aside from some disgruntlement from writers and directors and Jon Favreau’s departure after “Iron Man 2,” we haven’t seen a lot of discord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As a matter of fact, compared to DC/Warner Bros.’ problems getting its superhero slate booted up, Marvel has had a pretty smooth time of it. Despite the fact that Marvel is somewhat notoriously cheap in its movie-making.
But Wright’s departure, we have to believe, doesn’t come about because of money. There must have been some fundamental disagreement in how “Ant-Man” was going to come out and how it would fit into the MCU.
What’s even stranger is that Feige recently said that Wright – who has been working on “Ant-Man” since 2006, before most people even knew there was an MCU – was integral in how the universe was developed.
“We changed, frankly some of the MCU to accommodate this version of Ant-Man. Knowing what we wanted to do with Edgar and with Ant-Man, going years and years back, helped to dictate what we did with the roster for Avengers the first time. It was a bit of both in terms of his idea for the Ant-Man story influencing the birth of the MCU in the early films leading up to Avengers…”
Since the movie has mostly been cast, with Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd as older and younger Ant-Men Hank Pym and Scott Lang, and the movie was about to start filming soon, it seems unlikely we’ll see major changes in the story. More likely it will be a matter of tone and execution. Wright was going to do his movie his way and Marvel couldn’t abide by that.
I was excited about “Ant-Man” for a couple of reasons. For one, the character is a lynchpin of the comic-book Marvel universe. He was a founder of “The Avengers,” for pete’s sake.
And the apparent plan to use “Ant-Man” to flesh out the mostly unexplored middle years of the MCU – with Douglas as Pym active in flashback scenes in the 1960s or 1970s – was even cooler.
We still might see that all play out.
Or we might not.
“Ant-Man” might be terrific even without Wright. After all, we all hated the thought of Favreau leaving the “Iron Man” series.
We’ll all be lucky if the MCU can continue on smoothly after this bump in the road.