Ant-Man: Five Directors Who Could Replace Edgar Wright
The loss of Edgar Wright is a big one for Marvel's Ant-Man adaptation. Besides being a director with a clear vision and a vocal fan base of his own, Wright has the distinction of being one of the only filmmakers Marvel has worked with to date who was intimately tied to the film's development in such a way that it's difficult to guess just how much or how little of the existing script will be used without him (compare this to directors-for-hire like Patty Jenkins whose departure did not, as far as anyone can tell, materially impact Thor: The Dark World's script). The House of Cinematic Ideas so far, though, says that they're committed to meeting the film's projected release date late next year and that a new director will be announced shortly. That suggests, more likely than not, that the studio saw the writing on the wall and have put some thought into who might make such a film. And while we don't know how much of his original concept will stick around and we previously noted how difficult a story like this would be, it seemed like a fun, worthwhile lark to toy with what directors could sub in. Bear in mind that, in all likelihood, Marvel is going to go in a completely different direction but, for the sake of argument, we're going with some filmmakers whose sensibilities aren't that far off from Wright's in a lot of ways because it makes apples to apples comparisons a bit easier. As such, just like with all of our speculative or "This is how I'd do it..." stories, take this as entertainment.
James Gunn Like Wright, Gunn is best known for his indie work, his pop culture savvy and his use of humor. Like Wright, he's got a distinct voice, and one that fans have been excited to see...and he'll be applying that voice to a property that's virtually unknown outside of comics. Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy have felt like sibling projects for a while now, and so it's no surprise that Gunn had a thoughtful and diplomatic response to the breakup between Wright and the studio. He's also done work on blockbusters that presumably helps him keep some perspective about studio notes and the like. Dawn of the Dead and Scooby Doo-type movies don't get made in a vacuum, and the fact that Gunn has consistently kept a balance between his indie and studio work suggests that he can see the value in each and might be somewhat more open to the kind of radical reinvention of his vision that Marvel reportedly wanted to force on Wright's film. But Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy is still a risky prospect, even though fans and the studio love everything they've seen so far. It isn't guaranteed the movie will be greenlit for a sequel and so, while we expect it probably will, it probably won't be until the tail end of Phase Three or the start of Phase Four. With that in mind, keeping Gunn around could be a useful thing to do and Ant-Man is just quirky enough for him to work some magic on.
Richard Linklater Okay, so on the one hand we have a director with a lot of indie street cred, who's never really done a big-budget action movie. That doesn't seem ideally suited to the task. On the other hand, he's done the visually-stunning A Scanner Darkly and has proven his geek cred time and time again, while being able to infuse humor and heart into characters in a wide variety of different types of films. That is more or less what Marvel seem to look for when they make films with the likes of Shane Black, Jon Favreau and Joe and Anthony Russo, who have shaped some of the studio's most critically- and commercially-sucessful film s and who, except for Black, were not known for their action work when they came to Marvel. Linklater is just about to release Boyhood, a film twelve years in production in which Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are joined by a pair of children (one Linklater's own daughter) for an ambitious family drama shot little by little over the course of the kids' time growing up. Combine that with his "life project" Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight -- a character- and dialogue-driven love story that's now twenty years in the making and will likely have at least one more installment before it's all done -- and you've got a filmmaker who may not be used to making the same kind of big-picture, widescreen epics that Marvel usually makes but whose films certainly don't want for complexity, technical challenges or ambition.
Kevin Smith The number of guys who are bigger Marvel fans and who have ingratiated themselves more to fanboys than Kevin Smith is pretty small. That said, he has always struggled when given movies like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Cop Out, so while he could certainly coax terrific performances out of Paul Rudd et. al., he would require a lot of studio input to really be sure it was working out. Which, considering Marvel seems quite keen to give a lot of studio input on this film, could be a good thing. Pair Smith with a strong AD and have Feige spend more time on set than he ordinarily would, and it's my opinion you could have a really special film. And, yeah, it helps that Smith is one of the only guys whose fanboy street cred is on par with Wright's.
Patty Jenkins Jenkins is hugely in-demand, so it might be hard to get her...but not only is she a great director who does action well, but getting her back into the Marvel fold would instantly eradicate all of those easy parallels that writers have been drawing between her situation on Thor: The Dark World and Wright's on Ant-Man. Bringing Jenkins on board would say not only that Marvel is serious when they say "we left on good terms and hope to work again in the future," but it would help alleviate some of the "boys' club" feelings that have been pointed out again and again as it pertains to superhero films. No female superhero has yet been given her own headlining feature since Marvel Studios reinvigorated the flagging superhero genre with Iron Man, and both Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios are under near-constant pressure to make women more a part of their universes, both onscreen and behind the scenes. But again, the biggest thing is that she's a very good director. Besides her Oscar-nominated Monster, she's worked on Arrested Development, the series that really showed the world what Joe and Anthony Russo can do, and The Killing, which took its lumps but the Jenkins-directed pilot was almost universally praised.
Jon Favreau Who could be better for Marvel than Jon Favreau? Rumors that he was phased out of the Iron Man franchise that he launched into a worldwide sensation because he was too expensive have always been met with silence, but on the heels of another collaboration with Robert Downey, Jr. this year, it doesn't seem like it would be too hard to throw a few bucks at him and bring him back into the fold. Meanwhile, there's nobody better at the Marvel house style than Favreau who, let's face it, pioneered the style. He set a tone that the movies are still (to varying degrees) following and it shouldn't be too hard for him to slip that particular director's hat back on. Plus, with a franchise that doesn't have a lot of mainstream awareness and now has a strike against it in the form of a highly-publicized bust-up with the director, can you imagine buying any more goodwill with audiences than to have "From the director of Iron Man" in all the trailers?0comments