Ant-Man After Wright: How Marvel Should Move Forward From Their Highest-Profile Setback Yet
Warning: Opinion and commentary ahead. We know some of you hate that.Last night, fans around the [...]
Warning: Opinion and commentary ahead. We know some of you hate that.
Last night, fans around the globe were surprised and disappointed to learn that Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright will no longer direct Ant-Man for Marvel Studios -- a film that he's been championing for nearly a decade and one of the first movies Marvel Studios put into development. The split was apparently due to irreconcilable creative differences, which brings with it the question of just how Marvel expects to complete the film in the next fourteen months in spite of the fact that, presumably, Wright's existing script was apparently radically rewritten, which opens the door to start production more or less as soon as a new director is tapped if need be, but in all likelihood whoever comes on board will want a chance to make it their own a bit first.
And, ultimately, that might end up being for the better. It's tempting to launch into a list of what directors might be better suited to take on the property but frankly, this movie was always Wright's baby. It's hard to picture anybody else taking on one of his scripts and if, as rumors have said, the movie has had to be dramatically rewritten to appease the studio then it's nearly impossible to guess what sort of movie it will be and, thus, who should take it over. What does seem clear is that it could be very difficult to get this thing turned around in 14 months. So here's a suggestion: Don't. This is actually an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone for Marvel and to rid both the studio and the fans of one of the most irritating and pointless conversations we've all been having for the last few months.
If Ant-Man is going to be difficult to get ready in time for its target date, why force it? There's an easy answer here, which is to move up Captain America 3 and get a guaranteed hit out of the way of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. A handful of fanboys might be upset and some studio executives might feel like their egos have been bruised, but ultimately the stockholders will be happy. Delaying a risky film and putting a guaranteed hit in its place, while moving that guaranteed hit out of the path of an even bigger guaranteed hit from another studio? No part of that move doesn't make sense. It would also give the new director time to get caught up to speed on all the things Wright had been playing with for eight years. Yes, there are filmmakers who can just walk into a situation like this and start shooting. Some of them are pretty good, too. But you don't want Ant-Man to be "pretty good." It has to be something special, because it's a character who has no pop cultural cache whatsoever. The idea of opening two major superhero tentpoles on the same day was always ludicrous; it's not just that one of them would be hurt but that both of them would, and nobody seriously believed that both studios would be so hell-bent on hurting the other that they would let their bottom line be impacted. For a couple of months now, the conversation has revolved around whether it would be Disney or Warner Bros. who would blink or, even better, Disney or Warner Bros. who would be able to say, "Hey, good news! An earlier date opened up!"
The Ant-Man situation is a perfect opening for Captain America 3 to say, "hey, look, a choice date just opened up." And, as an extra karmic bonus, it would mean that Cap could take the original date meant for Batman V Superman to open. What makes us think Captain America has a better chance of hitting the deadline than does Ant-Man at this stage? Well, quite simply because so much of Captain America's trappings are already established. Minor roles don't need to be cast and there are no growing pains for the cast, crew and filmmakers to find their Marvel groove. Most of the costumes and props are already ready to go and, presumably, Captain America 3 is as tied into the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron as Ant-Man is, considering Cap's ongoing relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. Taking this as an opportunity rather than an embarrassment could help Marvel deal with not just the Ant-Man issue, but also the absurd release date game of chicken that no box office analyst yet seems to think Captain America can win. It's kind of a no-brainer.