Wrights & Wrongs: Caught in the Middle of Marvel's Ant-Man Backlash

Wrights & Wrongs: Caught in the Middle of Marvel's Ant-Man Backlash

Edgar Wright's departure from Ant-Man isn't the apocalyptic portent it's made out to be.

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On your point of people putting franchises/companies on pedestals, I don't think the backlash against Pixar was the idea of a Cars movie; it was that the final products were so underwhelming. But, that's just my opinion.

Any director working on a Marvel project at this point should know ahead of time what they are signing up for. Marvel is thinking about the big picture and there are lots of moving pieces in order for that picture to work. Not knowing the specifics it's impossible to know who fired the first shot in this departure. But to me it sounds like someone that came over to play with Marvel's toys and when they wouldn't let him do everything he wanted, he took his ball and went home.

It's a multi-billion dollar empire Marvel has going right now. Yes they need to be open to new artistic expression and fresh ideas, but they also need to know when to say, "No"

Who knows, best of luck to both parties, may Ant-man be great and Wright's next project be fantastic as well.

Oh just went to you blog :)

MovieBob has been sacked by the Walt Disney corporation owner of Blip TV.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Ahem. Still I'm sure you'll have no problem finding alternate methods of getting Game-Overthinker out there.

I am not sure I understood you Bob on that last point about planning ahead being a bad thing. To me the exact opposite seems to be the case. Marvel isn't creating 10 different movies here. They are creating 10 movies in episodic format. I really disagree that saying "episode 5 must have these elements in order work with episode 8" will lead to a less interesting final product. It seems to me that in order to create a worthwhile continuity at all you have to have a clear plan or it is just going to collapse under it's own weight.

It was easy to do Avengers 1 because all you needed to do was have a roster of heroes come together and punch things. As fun as Avengers was I see it as weaker than many of the solo outings. It is shallow, all action and very little engaging or interesting story. There are a few great character moments, but that is it. That trick only works once, this time people are going to want something better. This time around there needs to be an actual worthwhile story, and that takes effective planning. Haphazardly throwing together another random group of heroes would end poorly.

I am not worried about the impact on the MCU. My concern is for the Ant-Man film specifically. The two other films that I am aware of having similar studio involvement conflict were Iron Man 2 and Thor: the Dark World.

Both of those films, while still having some entertainment value, were the weakest entrants into this collective universe since the experiment began. And it would be a shame for the origin of a character to suffer that kind of disappointment.

Edit: That said, I think Edgar Wright is a bit overrated. A large part of popularity of his films was derived from the copious number of pop culture references included in each one. Pull out the "Where's Waldo" aspect of genre nods and the stories just aren't that solid.

Kumagawa Misogi:
Oh just went to you blog :)

MovieBob has been sacked by the Walt Disney corporation owner of Blip TV.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Ahem. Still I'm sure you'll have no problem finding alternate methods of getting Game-Overthinker out there.

Wait, friggin Moviebob got hit by the Blipocalypse? Are you kidding me?

The saddest thing I've been taking from this and what concerns me more than just "is AM going to be any good" is that this was his baby long before MCU really got rolling. It was his bizarre vision to bring an unconventional hero to life and he stewed on it for years. Now he's been muscled out of it. More than just simply "corporate roll-over," this guy is being told that his dream is no longer under his control. That's harsh.

Also, if this was going to increase his clout in any significant way, then by that logic Jon Farveau's "Chef" should be a mega-smash based solely on the fact that he anchored the first two Iron Man films - helping elevate a b-list superhero to superstardom and setting the framework to kickstart MCU apparently counts for nothing.

Nooners:

Kumagawa Misogi:
Oh just went to you blog :)

MovieBob has been sacked by the Walt Disney corporation owner of Blip TV.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Ahem. Still I'm sure you'll have no problem finding alternate methods of getting Game-Overthinker out there.

Wait, friggin Moviebob got hit by the Blipocalypse? Are you kidding me?

Nope, here's a link to his post about it on his blog.

http://gameoverthinker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/an-important-announcement-about-future.html

at the end of the day though, making it so Wright walked was a mistake. In all honesty the Marvel Cinematic Universe is probably a mistake; these films have been getting more and more homogenized by the second with pretty much zero creative identity due to having to adhere to the Universe. Say what you will about the X-Men, Batman, Superman movies but they clearly have their own identity and flair. The MCU movies do NOT. What I hope is that Wright goes to Fox and asks to direct Deadpool. That would be amazing.

Yeah, I'm with Tumedus on this one; the 2 worst Marvel movies (IM2 and Dark World) had the studio meddling with the director. And within the shortlist of new possible directors is Rawson Thurber, of We're the Millers fame, I shit you not.

I don't like the idea of movies serving the continuity, instead of the other way around.

And Marvel is certainly losing a lot by letting Edgar Wright go. He's one of the best film-makers today.

James Gunn posted this after the story broke:

Sometimes you have friends in a relationship. You love each of them dearly as individuals and think they're amazing people. When they talk to you about their troubles, you do everything you can to support them, to keep them together, because if you love them both so much doesn't it make sense they should love each other? But little by little you realize, at heart, they aren't meant to be together - not because there's anything wrong with either of them, but they just don't have personalities that mesh in a comfortable way. They don't make each other happy. Although it's sad to see them split, when they do, you're surprisingly relieved, and excited to see where their lives take them next.

It's easy to try to make one party 'right' and another party 'wrong' when a breakup happens, but it often isn't that simple. Or perhaps it's even more simple than that - not everyone belongs in a relationship together. It doesn't mean they're not wonderful people.

And that's true of both Edgar Wright and Marvel. One of them isn't a person, but I think you get what I mean.

MovieBob:
So seeing Edgar Wright depart under rumors that this is precisely what happened (re: Ant-Man being rewritten to better fit with the tone and meta-story of the post-Avengers 2 Marvel Universe) manifests as something like film geeks' worst fear and the Old Guard's sour grapes dream come true. It's "evidence" that Feige and Marvel/Disney are running something less like the happy-go-lucky fanservice factory they played at being and more like the assembly-line corporate hackwork some always thought of them as running.
... saying "Ant-Man needs to be THIS so that he fits in with the next crossover" is almost certain to lead to a less interesting final result than "Just make Ant-Man and we'll work out what he'll do in Avengers when we see if people like him or not." That first way is how Warner Bros and DC are currently trying to nudge Justice League into place - it's not going great so far. They're doing a movie whose subtitle is Dawn of Justice.

See as a fan, I disagree on this being a "fear" and honestly its my "expectation" and even desire that, in a continuity-bound presentation of a story I care about, some direction of that continuity be maintained.

In comics we have seen that some of the most bizarre and awful storylines exist and were created with NO regard to the universal whole.

Where DC is concerned, what Bob has described is not so clearly descriptive of what they've done in this. Man of Steel was never written with the intent of building toward a Justice League story, in the same way the 3 recent Batman films were never made toward that end. Forcing Man of Steel into that after the fact was a product of corporate marketing interference (which we ALL understand was reactionary to the success of the Avengers,) NOT creative oversight such as that Marvel has shown in this and most every instance. That is the inherent difference. The intent of "cashing in on a franchise model" vs "creative direction for the sake of story cohesion and believability."

IF Edgar Wright is grinding his heels on a specific vision of the film that would sacrifice the continuity built into place, then I'm ok that he has left the project. That, to me, shows a lack of creativity to work with the group as a whole to build something greater than just his vision. I'm not entirely convinced it's that extreme, but we don't know the line beyond which Wright was unwilling to be flexible, so we can't say one way or the other.
I was never going to see Ant Man because of Edgar Wright anyway. I was going to see Ant Man because I want to see his role in this universe and how his story impacts the greater story. And I want to see how much is drawn from the comics and made authentic and believable. (But I'll be honest, Wright's sizzle reel of Ant Man in combat was an exciting tease, so credit due on that!)

I still have not paid any attention to who wrote/directed Winter Solder and I loved it. (Not to say directors don't ever influence my interest, because I'm a huge fan of Gunn and think he's prefect for what he's been brought in to do on GotG. I just don't adhere to the idea that he's the "only" one who could do it any more than I think Wright is the "only" one suited for Ant Man.)

If Feige (and by proxy Whedon where he advises) didn't already have tremendous credibility in the oversight of that continuity as it stands, that would be one thing. But he does (they do.) So I'll trust the decision.
Maybe what Wright would have done would've been great and appealed to specific fans of his, so I understand the disappointment that we'll never know now.
But I can't look at this as unreasonable or even bad in the grander scale of these things.

(Remember, Marvel is the company willing and excited to take chances on things like Ant Man, Rocket Raccoon, etc... while representatives of DC are busy making fun of fans for knowing who Martian Manhunter is.)

It's sad for Edgar Wright's 10 year or so gestation of his Ant-man project, but I'm not too shaken up about the studio meddling aspect. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm also not completely onboard with letting "auteurs" do their unrestricted thing. Take Charlie Kaufmann: as a screenwriter working different directors you get great movies in Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I didn't put Adaptation here because I got bored with it, it's nowhere near as good as the other two, and I still don't understand the Nick Cage worship). Then, when he gets to almost free reign by being both screenwriter AND director you get Synedoche New York, which is a fine and weird movie but could have usedsome outside input to make it more coherent and less overwhelming. The famous example is George Lucas, but let's not go into that.

Personally, I don't see any loss with Edgar Wright. He's a good film maker but near Burtonesque overvalue. The more I think about it, the less I like Scott Pilgrim, for example. Also, I kind of trust Marvel's odd choices by this point. They've had casting, scripting and directing choices that seemed totally wild and they payed off. Whoever they bring in to replace Wright will probably do a good job.

We will never know that, but I would love to know what was so breaching between them that they let go of the director one month before the premiere of the movie.

hermes200:
We will never know that, but I would love to know what was so breaching between them that they let go of the director one month before the premiere of the movie.

...Dude, it's a year till Ant-Man comes out. WTF.

RA92:
He's one of the best film-makers today.

Debatable. He certainly has his own unique flare, but even being as loved by his fans his films don't appeal to the general audience. I presonally like his slap stick comedy, but they don't sell tickets. Scott Pilgram was his highest grossing film of late, and that only made 31m Domestic. His latest only made 26m. For being one of the "best" he certainly doesn't rank up there with Speilberg.

As it stands Write may just be like Jim Carrey. Good, but only if you're in the mood for slap stick. When he starts to do stuff with more depth and breadth like the actual best directors then I might consider your pov. Until then he's just a slap stick director that's made a few cult films that have a rabid fan base.

step1999:

hermes200:
We will never know that, but I would love to know what was so breaching between them that they let go of the director one month before the premiere of the movie.

...Dude, it's a year till Ant-Man comes out. WTF.

I think the confusion might be because it is about a month until principal photography begins. They haven't even started with the physical making of the movie yet, so changing the director is not that difficult at this stage.\

OT:

What I will say is that the (unconfirmed) idea that the supposed problem with Wright's Ant-Man screenplay was a desire to bring it into line with specific future plans would give me cause for concern, if only because it's a backwards approach that's actually the opposite of the savvy maneuvering that got them here. A key part of what made the first wave (and much of the second, so far) of Marvel films and their payoff in Avengers so enjoyable was that the "universe" aspect was put together after the fact, much like it is in comics themselves. Avengers' rollicking wackiness is owed overwhelmingly to the gymnastics required to make the storylines and characters from an action comedy, a fantasy adventure, a monster movie and a WWII throwback all land in roughly the same space.

For a guy who loves to talk about how

COMICS ARE WEIRD

Bob is putting a lot of stock in lightning striking twice with the more slapdash approach. I'm sure there was behind-the-scenes meddling to keep the various properties that led too Avengers in line; we're just getting a peek now that the decision was made farther down the road and in a more public manner. Letting people do their own thing in a variety of comic series/movies/etc, then trying to wrangle everything together at a later date, is the leading cause of retcons. For all it's faults, Ultimates is still my favourite Marvel line precisely because they keep the various authors in check with a vigorous production staff that makes sure one "bold move" doesn't wreck the game for everyone.

I just realised something: Disney is playing the DM for the campaign of the Marvel Universe, guiding a bunch of enthusiastic but unruly players away from setting up a salt trading empire and towards the actual plot.

The problem with this is there hasn't been anything to decry apart from his departure. There hasn't been any details about what really went on, only rumors of 'creative differences' about the direction of future marvel projects and Ant Man's place in them.

For the film industry that's about as vague as it gets. If there was some inside scoop that Marvel had kicked some puppies or something people might have a point in getting mad. As it stands we don't have any context and this whole thing could be very innocent or even beneficial for both parties. Not to go all Donald Rumsfeld in here but we simply don't even know what we don't know.

"one of fandom's favored Precious Snowflakes while Edgar wright most definitely is."
Can't say that the name rings any bells at all... is this another American thing?
Like that comedian guy from Avengers you keep gushing about?

Kenjitsuka:
"one of fandom's favored Precious Snowflakes while Edgar wright most definitely is."
Can't say that the name rings any bells at all... is this another American thing?
Like that comedian guy from Avengers you keep gushing about?

I think he is known in the UK given that four of the five movies I've seen that he was involved in were set in England. Anyway he was involved with Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The Worlds End, Scott Pilgrim, and Attack the Block along with a few other movies I haven't seen.

OT: I never pay attention to the director in these sorts of films. I'm hoping it will turn out alright for everyone in the end, but I don't think this will be an issue. I see a lot of people disliked Thor 2 and think this will turn out the same, but I actually liked that movie so those worries aren't really getting to me much.

Ickabod:
Any director working on a Marvel project at this point should know ahead of time what they are signing up for. Marvel is thinking about the big picture and there are lots of moving pieces in order for that picture to work.

The main problem I have with it, is that this movie was supposed to come out before that was actually a problem.

Ant-Man was originally intended for release in 2010 (getting so far as pre-production and an official release date), between Incredible Hulk and Thor, to introduce him and maybe Wasp to audiences in much the same way the other movies introduced their own characters.

Then Iron Man got more then half a billion at the box office, so instead of a well crafted Ant-Man movie made over 4 years, we got a rushed sequel made in a year and a half, while Ant-Man got pushed back 5 years and 2 Avengers movies when he should have been there from the start.

With how everything is going, it probably would have been better, both financially and from a storytelling perspective, to release Ant-Man in 2009 instead and still make Iron Man 2 like they wanted. But hindsight is 20/20

medv4380:

RA92:
He's one of the best film-makers today.

Debatable. He certainly has his own unique flare, but even being as loved by his fans his films don't appeal to the general audience. I presonally like his slap stick comedy, but they don't sell tickets. Scott Pilgram was his highest grossing film of late, and that only made 31m Domestic. His latest only made 26m. For being one of the "best" he certainly doesn't rank up there with Speilberg.

Not sure what popularity has to do with good film-making. And Joss Whedon wasn't exactly a big Hollywood money-maker before Avengers, was he?

As it stands Write may just be like Jim Carrey. Good, but only if you're in the mood for slap stick. When he starts to do stuff with more depth and breadth like the actual best directors then I might consider your pov. Until then he's just a slap stick director that's made a few cult films that have a rabid fan base.

And you would have had said the same thing about the Russo brothers before The Winter Soldier.

in this instance i'm more inclined to give marvel the benefit of the doubt on this one. if you remember before this same sort of thing happened with the Edward Norton hulk movie. the final edit became a tug of war between marvel and Norton's production crew where marvel wanted more smash and Norton wanted more banner. it's maybe a little obtuse to say "nobody cares about bruce we just want to see hulk smash stuff" but in a way it kind of true. Banner himself has always been almost a background character for the hulk in major story arcs. Norton was rumored to be pushing for a lot more banner centric story with a lot less hulk so marvel took it from him and beefed up the hulk portions, that's why they replaced him for avengers he didn't want any part of it anymore. I think marvel played it right in that respect. I would love to see tim roth in more marvel stuff, would love to see the abomination show up again, but ultimately I think marvel was right to insist on having it their way.

as far as Edgar write goes, I like his movies, i'll still go see whatever he does next. I think his ant man would have been very interesting and probably pretty good but it's possible he tried to do too much, pull in other characters they might not have plans for but didn't want to use just yet. and he has an exceptionally distinct style to his movies and some of the characters in them, it is possible it just didn't gel with marvel's style. sometimes things that taste really good by themselves just don't taste great together. like zack Snyder and superman. two great tastes that taste shit together.

I gave up on Auteur Theory somewhere between 1999 and 2005. George Lucas's evil minion "Darth Binks" shot it in the face with a midichlorian-laced blaster bolt. If the prequels taught us literally anything at all about movie making, it's that the director simply cannot be the only voice in the production. Treating him as such opens the door to auteur-ego trainwrecks.

Comrade_Beric:
I gave up on Auteur Theory somewhere between 1999 and 2005. George Lucas's evil minion "Darth Binks" shot it in the face with a midichlorian-laced blaster bolt. If the prequels taught us literally anything at all about movie making, it's that the director simply cannot be the only voice in the production. Treating him as such opens the door to auteur-ego trainwrecks.

Unless it's Clint Eastwood, but there has to be an exception to the rule lol

RA92:

medv4380:

RA92:
He's one of the best film-makers today.

Debatable. He certainly has his own unique flare, but even being as loved by his fans his films don't appeal to the general audience. I presonally like his slap stick comedy, but they don't sell tickets. Scott Pilgram was his highest grossing film of late, and that only made 31m Domestic. His latest only made 26m. For being one of the "best" he certainly doesn't rank up there with Speilberg.

Not sure what popularity has to do with good film-making. And Joss Whedon wasn't exactly a big Hollywood money-maker before Avengers, was he?

As it stands Write may just be like Jim Carrey. Good, but only if you're in the mood for slap stick. When he starts to do stuff with more depth and breadth like the actual best directors then I might consider your pov. Until then he's just a slap stick director that's made a few cult films that have a rabid fan base.

And you would have had said the same thing about the Russo brothers before The Winter Soldier.

Incorrect, and if you bothered to lookup Write's and the Russo Brothers filmography you'd see a fairly huge difference. The Russo Brothers at least have a bit of variety, and like Joss Weddon proved themselves mostly with TV Directing. Write has a very limited filmography with him as the director, and they are all Slap Stick. Ant Man was his chance to prove he could do something else. Being an Indie Hipster whining about how he shouldn't have sold out doesn't help his case except to Indie Hipsters. The Irony about Hispsters is that their work has to be inherently bad to most people otherwise they have to abandon it so they can still be "indie".

medv4380:

Incorrect, and if you bothered to lookup Write's and the Russo Brothers filmography you'd see a fairly huge difference. The Russo Brothers at least have a bit of variety, and like Joss Weddon proved themselves mostly with TV Directing.

Right. Let's look at the Russo Brother's filmography.

Lucky. Comedy. Arrested Development (which I love the shit out of). Comedy. What about Brian. Comedy. Carpoolers. Comedy. Community. Comedy. Running Wilde. Comedy. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Comedy. Happy Endings. Comedy. Up All Night. Comedy. Animal Practice. Comedy. The only show that has its Wikipedia page and isn't a comedy is LAX, to which they were executive producers, not directors.

Let's look at films. Welcome to Collinwood. Comedy. You, Me and Dupree. Comedy. A Friggin' Christmas Miracle. Comedy.

That's a lot of variety. I sure could see their next project being a Robert Redford-inspired conspiracy action-thriller!

Write has a very limited filmography with him as the director, and they are all Slap Stick.

Have you seen how kinetic the camera work in Hot Fuzz is, without being disorienting like Michael Bay movies? Or the action sequences? Have you seen the tonal shift at the end of The World's End which made it something more than a throwaway slapstick comedy? He's the kind of director who doesn't waste a single frame. Dismissing his entire filmography as slapstick is very reductive.

Ant Man was his chance to prove he could do something else. Being an Indie Hipster whining about how he shouldn't have sold out doesn't help his case except to Indie Hipsters. The Irony about Hispsters is that their work has to be inherently bad to most people otherwise they have to abandon it so they can still be "indie".

You lost me when you used the word 'hispter' (a rather nebulous term used by everyone to describe any sect they dislike).

I haven't seen him whining. Both fronts have been quiet since the split. Even Whedon has shown solidarity with Wright.

What many people fail to realize is that there's a difference between "executive meddling" and "editorial oversight". What Marvel's doing, and how they're doing it successfully, is editorial oversight, something that movies, historically, haven't needed. If you were lucky you had a linear series of movies, each building on the last, and you didn't need to know what some other project was working up to at the same time.

When I was growing up, I got really into fantasy via the Dragonlance series. There is no editorial oversight. There are... four? At least four different series that tackle how the companions got together, and what they did following their brief split before the reunion in the first Chronicles books, and they all contradict each other. Weis and Hickman even openly mocked one of them in the Twins trilogy and called them "ridiculous bards tales".

Despite some serious investment in the series (I own--and have read--over 100 Dragonlance books), I had to give up the series because the canon is an absolute mess, and one of the great parts of these kinds of series is that the world and history keep building off of each other to make them more than the sum of their parts, and that can't happen with authors haphazardly adding whatever the hell they want, then it getting retconned, then not, then whatever. If the creators don't have respect for the world and history they're helping to build, then they need to not be a part of it, and behind the scenes their must be someone keeping all the canon in check.

In something like the MCU, this would ideally be a pretty light touch, but it sounds like Edgar Wright had a very specific vision for Ant-Man, and when that didn't mesh with what Marvel was doing, he had to be let go for everyone's benefit.

RA92:

I haven't seen him whining. Both fronts have been quiet since the split. Even Whedon has shown solidarity with Wright.

Maybe you should have been paying attention when Write posted a pic of Buster Keaton in some vain attempt at comparing his "drama" to Busters plite. When he does something that offensive he gets the "Hipster" label. At least he realized it and deleted the tweet.

You might want to go back and look at the origins of this argument. Your claim of Write being one of the "best" is still bogus, and your red herring of dragging in other directors is only that a red herring. Try comparing write to the actual Best Directors and you'll find Write is woefully lacking at this stage in his life, maybe in another 10 years. The brothers aren't even close to the best and I never claimed they were, but their experience still trumps write ATM.

medv4380:

RA92:

I haven't seen him whining. Both fronts have been quiet since the split. Even Whedon has shown solidarity with Wright.

Maybe you should have been paying attention when Write posted a pic of Buster Keaton in some vain attempt at comparing his "drama" to Busters plite. When he does something that offensive he gets the "Hipster" label. At least he realized it and deleted the tweet.

Yeah, I missed that, but what do you expect? He's been working on it for 8 years, and now its been taken away from him. So yeah, it's some legit "drama". His reaction is pretty fucking subdued.

And I still don't see a reason for the 'hipster' label. Is it for the obscurity of that reference?

You might want to go back and look at the origins of this argument. Your claim of Write being one of the "best" is still bogus...

I gave you reasons for why I think he's one of the best film makers - for his cinematography. His movies also consistently get high ratings. If you don' find his movies interesting, that's your pejorative, not a problem in my claim.

As if there is an 'objective' measuring stick to judge the best of something as subjective as taste in movies.

... and your red herring of dragging in other directors is only that a red herring.

No. I was refuting your point that the Russo bros had more variety. Their work is extensive, but not diverse. Learn the difference.

Try comparing write to the actual Best Directors and you'll find Write is woefully lacking at this stage in his life, maybe in another 10 years. The brothers aren't even close to the best and I never claimed they were, but their experience still trumps write ATM.

I think you meant to write Actual Certified Best Directors TM.

Tell me, every time someone says such-and-such is one of the best movies/series/games, do you instinctively jump on their throats and 'objectively' prove how they are, indeed, not the cream of the crop?

Marvel has done a good job with the choice of directors with each movie. As much as it sucks Edgar Wright isnt making it, though im sure he just had a different vision to Marvel so its not an issue. But i know Marvel will hire another suitable director for the movie. I also hope Edgar Wright makes his own superhero movie, as i would love to see that movie. Simon Pegg as a superman type character would be awesome.

 

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