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Those who have been following comic book movie news over the last couple of weeks know one thing for certain about the state of the genre: Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man is in trouble. After eight years of development, director Edgar Wright decided to walk away from the blockbuster because of an unauthorized rewrite of the script he co-wrote. As though that weren’t rough enough, Adam McKay was then said to be in talks to replace him, and left the negotiating table due to an already packed schedule. With Ant-Man’s release date only a little more than a year away, some have questioned if it wouldn’t just be best for Marvel to count their losses and shelve the film indefinitely.
This, however, is an example of some seriously short-sighted thinking. While it’s true that Ant-Man currently lacks a filmmaker at the helm steering the ship, suggesting that the whole project should be terminated not only undervalues Marvel Studios’ impressive track record, but proves ignorance of the real potential the film has.
Since Ant-Man was first announced in 2006, critics and cynics have questioned why a B-level character like the titular hero deserves his own solo film, and that fiery commentary has only been stoked since Wright’s departure. But are we forgetting that this has been the story for practically all of Marvel Studios’ projects? With A-listers like Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four possessed by rival companies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been built on the backs of lesser-known and more fantastical heroes, and it has done little to nothing to impede critical and financial success. A year ago, we barely knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were. Now, that film is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. How can we know that we won’t be thinking the same thing about Ant-Man in 2015?
While Wright and Marvel couldn’t find a way to work together, it’s worthwhile to note that the studio hasn’t exactly been shooting for no-name directors who they can just boss around – they want someone else with vision. As the first mentioned potential replacement, Adam McKay is a fascinating choice, as he is yet another filmmaker who has spent the last decade on the big screen developing an individual style and upping his game as a director. The jury is still out on who exactly will be picking up Ant-Man’s reins, but saying that the film shouldn’t or can’t be made without Wright is impetuous at best, ridiculous at worst at this point in time.
Without meaning to undermine the extreme and undeniable importance that a director has on a film, let’s also not ignore the impressively talented individuals who are still attached to Ant-Man and the fact that there is a great legacy of source material that could work brilliantly on the big screen. Given the cast of characters that have been announced and looking back on some of the hero’s most classic comic book arcs, we can presume that the story will follow Dr. Hank Pym, an aging scientist and former superhero, who teams up with a thief named Scott Lang who steals his incredible shrinking supersuit so that he can help save his terminally-ill daughter. Paired with a cast that includes Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, and Evangeline Lilly, Patrick Wilson, and Corey Stoll in supporting roles, who wouldn’t want to see it play out on the big screen? Add to that drama the thrilling, special action that comes with a protagonist who can shrink and grow himself at will and maintains non-proportional strength, and you have an exciting visual palette that any skilled director can take advantage of.
As Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn elegantly put it in a statement after Edgar Wright’s departure from Ant-Man, it’s hard to really take a side in this situation. On the one hand, Wright is without question one of the best filmmakers working in the movie industry today, bringing a unique style and energy to every project he makes – and who would want to stifle that by being part of a larger machine? On the other hand, Marvel Studios has spent years developing a system of producing blockbusters that works extraordinarily well, and as a result needs to recruit talented and collaborative directors who are willing play ball – which Wright evidently wasn’t. It’s possible that in the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe the two sides were never going to see eye-to-eye. But that’s no reason for Ant-Man – a project with some extreme potential – to be shelved. We may have to wait a little while longer for it, as a delayed release date seems inevitable at this point, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t anticipate it any less.
To read why Marvel Studios should put the brakes on Ant-Man, head over HERE!
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