Over the weekend, Disney lost not one, but two directors on future Marvel projects.
Late Friday, Marvel announced director Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz”) departed next summer’s “Ant-Man” movie. Shortly afterward, word spread that showrunner Drew Goddard was leaving Disney’s “Daredevil” project that’s heading exclusively to Netflix.
The consensus from the film community was a collective display of shock: What is going on?
Up until now, Disney’s Marvel machine has cranked out success after success. It’s recent “Captain America” sequel has taken in more than $US700 million worldwide.
These two announcements suggest all may not be well behind-the-scenes as Disney attempts to continue its domineering comic book franchise.
The first piece of news was a giant blow since Wright invested a lot of time and effort on “Ant-Man,” attached to the film since 2006.
“Ant-Man” is set to be the first film released after next year’s “Avengers” sequel. It will be the start of “phase three” of Marvel’s giant cinematic universe, so for Wright to leave something must have went very, very wrong.
The explanation for Wright’s departure is being labelled as creative differences and script rewrites from Marvel brass who wanted to insert established characters into the film.
According to Latino Review, that didn’t sit well with Wright after his script was heavily altered.
“The meat of the notes were about the core morality of the piece, must include franchise characters. etc., These notes came from the big four at Marvel. Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright did two drafts to try and answer the notes without compromising their vision. 6 weeks ago Marvel took the script off them and gave the writing assignment to two very low credit writers. One of the writers was from Marvel’s in house writing team. Edgar stayed cool, agreed to stay on the project, and read the draft. The script came in this week and was completely undone. Poorer, homogenized, and not Edgar’s vision. Edgar met with Marvel on Friday to formally exit and the announcement went out directly after.”
In interviews, Wright has said his idea for the film was to be a standalone film, something that may not have gone over well since Disney and Marvel have been very particular about connecting its films — and TV show — into a larger franchise engine.
By 2011, Wright said a third draft of the film’s script had been completed.
After that, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said “Ant-Man” needed to be reworked to fit into the larger Marvel Universe citing that the movie was in development prior to the release of the first “Iron Man.”
Soon after Goddard’s departure, Marvel announced Steven S. DeKnight (“Spartacus”) will take over as showrunner. Goddard will remain on board as an executive producer. The 13-episode series is set to debut in 2015.
Here’s where the success of Disney’s Marvel multi-faceted universe will prove its strength.
While Marvel has already established a core group of very successful superheroes in Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, it now must do that all over again with “Guardians of the Galaxy” in August and then Ant-Man and Daredevil.
None of the superheroes are really well known to a general audience, and what is known about the latter isn’t exactly great. (Even Affleck has spoken out against that film.)
The direction of the Ant-Man film should cause some concern since Wright — who was so passionately involved on the project for nearly a decade, teasing it at Comic Con conventions for years — left when the film is due out in almost a year’s time.
Though Disney has said otherwise, that exit may push the movie back if a replacement for Wright isn’t found soon as production had been set to begin mid-2014.
Disney and Marvel obviously know what they’re doing with superhero movies — they have brought some of the biggest franchises to screen — however, at the same time, making every single film need to fit inside the already established franchise starts to limit the amount of creative licence any one director can have on future characters as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe only grows larger.
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