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Edgar Wright is off Ant-Man. It sucks. They cite creative differences, but there obviously seems to be more. Simon Pegg tweeted he was “proud” of Wright and Joss Whedon posted a picture with a Cornetto in a show of solidarity. That seems to point to the Studios trying to force his vision into their own parameters. Which could mean trouble if Disney has become a victim of their own success and is now unwilling to push the boundaries.
So what is this really? A sign of Marvel’s eventual downfall? Lets think about this for a minute.
So here’s what I think. Full disclosure, I’m an armchair critic. Of course I don’t know the full situation and most likely have some of the facts wrong. This is merely what it seems like to me.
Edgar Wright had a vision of his Ant-Man movie from very early on in the MCU, quite possibly even before it. It’s probably very quirky, self aware, and filled with love letters to a past era in comics. But things called him away from the project and Ant-Man was in limbo for a few years as the MCU grew.
So now Edgar returns to the property but has found that the atmosphere has changed. The MCU is a sprawling plan stretching into 2028. His unique vision now has to fit that despite his years of planning. Now here’s the thing. I do think that the studios were more than likely unwilling to compromise their winning formula for Edgar Wright (especially since his last big studio property — Scott Pilgrim vs. The World — flopped hard), but I’m not ready to paint Wright as a complete victim just yet. He probably refused to deny his vision for that of the studio plan and that lead to the split.
Which I wouldn’t say is a bad thing really. It was his vision and he had it for a while. He was merely unwilling to forgo his integrity to get an Ant-Man made. He wanted his Ant-Man. Which, in the days where comic book movies are making all the money, that’s pretty impressive fortitude.
But why couldn’t Wright work and an arguably weirder director, James Gunn, work out fine? I think it’s because Gunn was hired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie already placed into the MCU plan. Wright’s Ant-Man preexisted the plan entirely, and as I’ve said before, he was probably a bit unwilling to make it fit after the fact.
Despite all that, I don’t think this signals a decline at Marvel. I think the two — Marvel and Wright — drifted into different directions. Which happens all the time. I think Marvel will find someone suitable to replace Wright and they’ll make another entertaining Marvel movie.
The biggest blow to Marvel this represents is a loss of voice. With multiple movies a year for at least 14 years they’re going to have to fight like crazy to avoid burnout. This means keeping the movies from feeling the same. We’ll get a good Marvel Ant-Man movie, but we won’t get an Edgar Wright Ant-Man movie, which would have felt fresh and all its own. This new one? Mmmmm probably less so.
With every studio owning comic book rights coming to dethrone them, Marvel can’t afford to stop taking chances now. I won’t put all the blame on anyone, but this isn’t the type of thing they can keep doing. But, to be fair, DC is having trouble putting together their own cohesive universe so I guess they have some time.