Abandon Ship? What should Marvel Studios do with Ant-Man?

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

by Andrew Fleet

With the seemingly non-stop blockbuster success that Marvel is currently experiencing, you have to wonder: can they do no wrong? For this week’s post, I wanted to look at the potential black sheep of the Marvel film family: Ant-Man.

Ant Man; now here’s a film that has been hitting a seemingly impassable brick wall since the get-go. Looking to continue the trend of the successful superhero films X-Men and Spider-Man, Artisan Entertainment (known for their films such as The Blair Witch Project, Requiem for a Dream and the 2004 version of The Punisher) hired Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim and his writing partner Joe Cornish to pen a screenplay for Ant-Man, one of the heroes the studio owned the film rights to. This inevitably went nowhere until three years later, when Marvel approached Wright with a similar proposition: to direct an Ant-Man film. The project would go through several rewrites and hang out in film limbo for several years before finally gaining traction before being announced as part of Marvel’s “Phase Three” productions.

By now, I’m sure you’re asking “But what’s Phase Three?”, so to give you a better idea about how interwoven the Marvel films are, you dear reader, need to understand how large of a picture Marvel is working with. Presumably if you’re reading this, you have seen some of the films and are somewhat familiar with the ending teasers from any of the large Marvel blockbuster hits. These teasers act as a way to connect the films into part of a whole, and were, in part, due to Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios President.  Feige realized that despite the numerous film franchises that had been signed to be co-produced with studios such as 20th Century Fox and New Line Cinema, Marvel still had access to many films He proposed that the remaining films could be joined to create a larger entertainment project: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Part of the success of these films is due to the highly structured production schedule that Marvel Studios has developed and followed since its first feature film, Iron Man.

Phase 1: Avengers Assembled
Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Avengers
Phase 2:
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Phase 3:
Captain America 3
Doctor Strange
Thor 3
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Avengers 3

They have a plan. They have the successes. Marvel Studios is producing hit after hit like a well-oiled machine. But what happens if one of those cogs isn’t aligning with the others? I’m not sure. I don’t know if Marvel knows either. What I think is worried about, however, is whether or not Ant-Man is on the path to becoming that misaligned cog. Let’s have a look at the writings in the sand:

• 2014 – Marvel and Edgar Wright announced his departure  from the film. The main reason cited as being “creative differences.”
• As a result Bill Pope, Director of Photograph, leaves.
• Adam McKay, who had been a co-writer of the screenplay, is targeted to become the next director. He removes himself for the negotiations shortly after.
• Steven Price, who was responsible for the score of the film, departs shortly after Wright leaves.

None of these events are great but none of them are particularly devastating. From the looks of it, most of the team Edgar Wright was responsible for recruiting took his exit as a reason to go as well. The new director, Peyton Reed, is a relatively untested director with only a few comedies like Bring It On and Yes Man under his belt, whereas Wright has had incredible success with his cult hits The World’s End and Hot Fuzz on top of the previous listed films. Furthermore, Joss Whedon has already mentioned that Hank Pym is not involved with the creation of Ultron, the antagonist for Avengers 2 (arguably one of his defining features in the comic universe, well… that and his domestic abuse), which would have been a major linking factor for the films. When you consider this announcement and the directorial turmoil the film has experienced so far, it’s pretty much accepted that many people will have their concerns.

**Possible Phase 3 and Phase 4 Release Schedule for future Marvel Cinematic Universe Films. This is still UNCONFIRMED**

When compared to the production timeline of Avengers, which began development in 2005 and was released in 2012, Ant-Man is really lagging behind. Due to the numerous issues and rewrites, the film, which began production in 2006, has yet to hit theatres. This is where things get a bit dicey in my opinion. We know that a lot of the success that the Marvel films have had are in part due to this planning, but you can’t fault those who feel that it’s the time to just scrap the film and move on. Personally, I am skeptical about what Ant-Man may become now that Wright has left the film, but I believe that the material is still salvageable. Marvel has proven that it can handle its own franchises and take risks by using unknown or underrated film directors, crews and actors, so although I have my doubts about Reed, the successes that Marvel has had lends credit to their choice. I’m hoping that Ant-Man, despite not having the scope of Avengers, the mythology of Thor or the war-time feel found in Captain America, will bring its own little something to the big screen.

Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll. It is due to hit theatres July 17th, 2015.


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