The support for Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man could lead to a shift in power for creatives in Hollywood.
It’s been almost two weeks since Edgar Wright opted to leave Marvel’s Ant-Man project as director. After eight years of planning, the director split with Marvel over “creative differences.” Despite the major wrench in their plans, Marvel have promised to have the project ready for its release date of July 17, 2015.
Hopefully, the incident will encourage more directors to take back control of their medium from higher Hollywood powers
This interesting development represents the real hold that studios have on the most passionate of passion projects. Despite the fact that Edgar Wright spent nearly a decade infusing his vision and fanboy prowess into Ant-Man, Marvel are convinced they can find a suitable replacement. Adam McKay was the first director to reject an offer to take on the project. Today, it was revealed that Dodgeball director Rawson Thurber has also turned down the offer. Hopefully, the incident will encourage more directors to take back control of their medium from studios and other higher Hollywood powers.
Ant-Man is a small part of the Marvel empire, with a small, but dedicated cult following. Most of the world hasn’t yet been introduced to Ant-Man, so a distinct vision, like the one Wright was apparently developing, would need to be sustained in order for Ant-Man to be a lucrative success for Marvel. In 2013, Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel, told MTV that Wright’s typically irreverent vision was “the only reason we’re making the movie.” Ant-Man needed Edgar Wright more than Marvel needs Ant-Man.
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Without a great director, Ant-Man could prove a failure, but it will be an important failure. It’ll finally prove that there is a difference between quality moviemaking and larger studio vision. Despite the fact that Marvel constantly replaces those who disagree with their overall vision (from Kenneth Branagh to Edward Norton), they’ve yet to suffer any huge economic losses. Marvel are likely using the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy as a litmus test to see how well ‘niche’ comics will perform at the box office. But even if Guardians succeeds, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that Ant-Man will.
At this point, at least, it could go either way. The internet’s constant dissection of Hollywood news could generate the buzz Ant-Man would need for commercial success, or it could generate a tedium so strong that it even detracts interest. Tedium aside, the Ant-Man controversy should wake blockbusters from a stupor they’ve been in for far too long. Studios that produce blockbusters and superhero movies are falling deeper and deeper into the hole of ‘their vision’ or ‘their brand’, ignoring the fact that good movies can still make money and that people would much rather see them than bad ones.
Marvel wants Ant-Man to simply be another puzzle piece that will fit into an existing plan of commercial success
Most superhero movies are remakes, reboots, or based on some sort of source material. They therefore suffer from being made into vague shapes that fail to stand on their own and are merely a shadow of what they’re supposed to be. Take Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It suffered from tonal discord and the feeling that there were just too many cooks in the kitchen. Although Ant-Man has never been adapted for the big screen before, Marvel wants it to fit into the same universe that’s occupied by The Avengers.
Rather than being the original, funny piece that Ant-Man could have been under the wing of Edgar Wright, Marvel wants Ant-Man to simply be another puzzle piece that will fit into an existing plan of commercial success. That logic will more likely produce a boring, unoriginal film, but not necessarily one that makes money. If Ant-Man fails, it could be the wake-up call that Marvel, DC, and all of Hollywood needs to start loosening the grip of studio control and start lending creative control to those that are actually creating content: writers and directors, like Edgar Wright.
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All images: Marvel