Last Friday director Edgar Wright packed his bags and left Marvel, abandoning Ant-Man just weeks before production was set to begin in Atlanta. Ever since then, details have been leaking out steadily, including a new feature from The Hollywood Reporter that confirms that Wright departed over script changes he didn’t approve. THR also backs up my assertion that, counter to Variety’s initial report, there is no replacement director lined up. Marvel is still searching for a new director, as well as now needing to replace several department heads as they followed Wright out the door. (I imagine director of photography Bill Pope is gone—he’s a Wright collaborator.)
While this was going on with Wright, over the weekend Marvel lost another creative asset as Drew Goddard left the Daredevil show being produced for Netflix. That’s not quite as dire a situation, though, as Goddard actually quietly slunk away from Daredevil back in March when he accepted a feature film gig from Sony, writing and directing the Spider-Man spin-off Sinister Six—you know, the thing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 spent two and half hours advertising. Marvel already has a new showrunner for Daredevil in fellow Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Steven DeKnight, and yesterday word got out that they’ve tapped Charlie Cox to play Daredevil. So things seem to be on track for Daredevil despite the upheaval.
Ant-Man, though, remains in a tailspin. Production, originally slated for early June, has been pushed back to late July but THR says the department heads left because they didn’t think they’d actually be going to work this summer. I’m not sure I entirely believe that—it’s just as likely they left in support of Wright—but gone is gone and now Marvel has to replace the project’s creative team. If anyone can move mountains fast enough to stick to a production schedule it’s Kevin Feige, but it’s a pretty tall order this close to the start date.
This might actually be the perfect time to shuffle the deck. Remember the Superhero Apocalypse slated for May 6, 2016, when both Captain America 3 and Superhero Face Punch (aka Batman vs. Superman) come out on the same day? A scheduling meltdown on an unrelated project is a great chance to head that off by moving around some release dates without having to make an actual concession to Warner Brothers/DC. I’m curious to see if they slip that in amongst all the other changes being announced right now.
Finally, there’s an odd bit in THR’s report that the reason Marvel got cold feet on Ant-Man is because of Guardians of the Galaxy. Allegedly Guardians is so weird that they don’t want to roll the dice twice on off-beat characters and properties. Guardians IS weird, but it was chosen specifically because of that. Marvel wanted to make a weird movie, and a weird movie they got. What rings a little more true to me is the insinuation that Wright’s vision no longer fits with Marvel’s larger cinematic universe. Like I said before, if Wright had gotten Ant-Man off the ground a few years ago, he probably wouldn’t have experienced any kickback.
But as it stands right now, Ant-Man will be the twelfth movie in the MCU. They’re only getting more involved in their ongoing narrative, and a one-off movie that doesn’t really connect with anything else doesn’t fit with that anymore. It seems like Wright was unwilling to give up his individual vision for Ant-Man in favor of something a bit more…synergistic. That will always and forever be too bad, but now it’s about finding the person who will replace him. You know who I’d like to see get a shot directing a Marvel movie? One of the most stylish directors on television: Gwyneth Horder-Payton.