4 reasons Marvel should give up on Ant-Man

Are you an up and coming Hollywood director with nothing going on for the next thirteen months or so? If so, you might want to send Marvel your résumé: They really, really need someone to direct their Ant-Man movie. Be forewarned, however, that you might be asked to put in a bit of overtime; the film is already slated for release in July of 2015.

After original director Edgar Wright walked away from the film, Marvel cited the usual “creative differences” spiel and went on the hunt for a replacement. They first courted Adam McKay, who immediately turned them down. They next offered the gig to director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who also passed. And the third name on Marvel’s rumored short list is Ruben Fleischer, who’s probably not the “just right” director in this particular Goldilocks scenario, as he may already be gearing up for the long-delayed Ghostbusters reboot.

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Perhaps Marvel should take this as a sign: It’s probably for the best to give up on making an Ant-Man movie completely, and here’s why:

1. A director taking over for another director almost never works out.

Sure, there have been a few examples of films where a new director took over late in the game and the film still turned out well: The Wizard of Oz (Richard Thorpe replaced by Victor Fleming), Gone with the Wind (George Cukor, also replaced by Fleming), Jaws (Dick Richards was the original choice), and if you want to be charitable, Superman II (but only because Richard Donner’s original vision probably wasn’t that different from the movie Richard Lester made).

But more often than not, a director stepping in at the eleventh hour is a recipe for failure. Making a quality film necessitates a strong vision, and no matter what you think of his movies, it seems Edgar Wright had a clear vision of what he wanted Ant-Man to be. And a studio can’t simply appropriate one director’s vision and pass it over to the next guy and expect to get the same results.

4 reasons Marvel should give up on Ant-Man

And history has shown what happens when studios try: We get movies like The 13th Warrior (Michael Crichton taking over for John McTiernan), The Island of Dr. Moreau (Richard Stanley replaced by John Frankenheimer), Waterworld (Kevin Costner finished it after Kevin Reynolds walked away), or the dueling Exorcist prequels of a few years back. All of them bland-to-terrible movies apparently made by committee once they lost the one person steering the ship.

To replace Wright, Marvel will most likely find a director who’s, shall we say, more amenable to their “notes”. And considering the quickly-looming deadline for a potential Ant-Man movie, it’s even more likely that studio execs will assert more creative control in an attempt to get the film finished on time. This is never a good thing.

2. Nobody likes Ant-Man anyway.

Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ant-Man? If you’re a typical moviegoer, your reaction is probably, “What, does he turn into an ant? Sounds pretty stupid,” but if you’re aware of the character from the comics, you’re probably thinking of the time Ant-Man/Yellowjacket/Hank Pym smacked around his wife, the Wasp. Or maybe the time he was court-martialed by the Avengers, had a serious mental breakdown, and eventually ended up in prison.

4 reasons Marvel should give up on Ant-Man

Sure, Pym also created Ultron, a constant foe for the Avengers, as well as the villain in the upcoming Avengers sequel. But that’s irrelevant as far as the cinematic universe is concerned, because there are no plans to tie the Ant-Man movie into Age of Ultron.

So essentially, the most notable moments in Ant-Man’s entire fifty-year history are when he slapped his wife, and when he went to jail. This is a superhero that needs a movie?

And I realize that the film features Pym as a secondary character, and is really about Scott Lang, the second guy to take up the Ant-Man name. Which may be even worse, because we’re now talking about a film focusing on the obscure superhero’s even more obscure replacement.

You could argue that people were saying the same things about Iron Man before he got his own movie; the character was always a bit of a second-stringer, and Tony Stark had plenty of his own faults in the comics. But without a talented filmmaker at the wheel, there’s no guarantee a movie can make a dull, unlikeable character interesting. And even if that was a foregone conclusion, aren’t there literally hundreds of C-list Marvel heroes who deserve a boost more than Ant-Man? I mean, this is a guy who communicates telepathically with ants.

4 reasons Marvel should give up on Ant-Man

3. Wright walked away over a weak script.

There’s been no real explanation for why Edgar Wright quit the movie, but reading between the lines of what’s been said by various parties on social media, it most likely comes down to Marvel wanting a safe, homogenized product, just like all of their other movies (let’s face it, “edgy” is not the first word that comes to mind when describing the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Reportedly, producers had the script rewritten at the last minute to dumb things down, which mostly seems like a passive-aggressive tactic to get Wright to quit. (Was Marvel/Disney suddenly terrified of another Scott Pilgrim-style flop?)

So even if they do find a new director to take over this thankless job, he won’t be starting off with a well-constructed screenplay, but rather a lukewarm rewrite. Which will again be rewritten to suit the new director’s tastes. Do we really need another superhero movie based off a patchwork script credited (or not credited, as the case may be) to seven or eight different writers?

4. Superhero comedies are usually terrible.

Judging by the directors they’re pursuing, it’s clear Ant-Man is going to be more comedic in tone than other Marvel movies, and perhaps veer into straight-up comedy. And from Howard the Duck to Meteor Man to Kick-Ass to Green Hornet, superhero comedies have a pretty spotty track record.

And for many of us, the dark days of the ‘90s are still fresh in our memories. It wasn’t that long ago that superheroes were treated as mindless nonsense mainly meant to sell Happy Meals. Will fans of the genre be able to deal with a new foray into outright silliness?

4 reasons Marvel should give up on Ant-Man

Never forget.

In all honesty, I don’t mind a lighter take on the material, and the recent attempts to Nolan-ize every superhero are increasingly becoming a bore. But comic book movies, like action movies in general, are best when they strike a balance. The first Iron Man was a film that was able to successfully combine both the serious and the lighthearted. But those kind of tonal shifts require a deft touch, and is that really how anyone would describe the director of We’re the Millers? Or Anchorman 2? Even if you liked those movies (opinions vary), applying a similar approach to superheroes hasn’t exactly worked out all that well in the past. (And it remains to be seen just how comedic Guardians of the Galaxy will be, and if it can buck the trend.)

Overall, Marvel can afford to take a bath on this one; whatever they’ve spent on preproduction and salaries for Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, they’ll likely make up on the billions they stand to rake in from Age of Ultron. And even if Ant-Man was meant to set up plot threads in other Marvel movies, is that really such a great loss? After all, no movie did more to set up The Avengers than Iron Man 2, but would anyone have missed all that groundwork/exposition if it never existed in the first place?

The best move for Marvel at this point would be to scrap their planned Ant-Film and come up with a more interesting hero to focus their energies on. And if they’re handing out movies to third-tier characters unknown to the public at large, is it too much to ask that maybe instead they could take a chance on a superhero who’s not another white guy? I think we all know that Black Panther is the movie they really should be making.

Tag: Marvel Cinematic Universe

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  • Murry Chang

    I was actually looking forward to this one since Joss Whedon seemed to have very little to do with it and Edgar Wright is a really good director. It’s starting to look like this might be Marvel cinemas first big misstep, assuming it actually gets made that is.

  • Thomas Stockel

    On the one hand, I agree with you 100% here. The execs have made a mess of things in regards to this project and I think stubborn pride on their part is going to make some of them keep going regardless of how embarrassing this is becoming. In the age of social media there are no longer any secrets and the more we hear the worse it looks.

    And I agree that it would be nice if we saw a non-white guy get a super her movie, and since a Falcon spinoff seems unlikely and Luke Cage is destined for that Netflix series, Black Panther would be an awesome choice. Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu might be nice, but what would separate his story from a thousand other martial arts flicks?

    Although, if Ms. Marvel remains popular seeing a Pakistani teenage girl headlining a big budget American super hero film would be epic. Sadly that probably isn’t going to happen in the universe I live. Because the universe I live in had Jackie Chan and Jet Li in the same film and the producers thought to sell it they had to have a white kid in there. Probably the same assholes who made Goku white, too. And the same guys who thought in Mummy III I wanted to watch Brendan Fraser fight Jet Li rather than get the epic fifteen minute showdown between Li and martial art goddess Michelle Yeoh everyone wanted.

    Seriously, fuck you, Hollywood.

    But back to your article: dude, I liked The 13th Warrior. 🙁

    • nejiblue

      So son goku was japanese in the dragonball comic or TV show. Really? Were you watching/reading the same thing I was? It would be like bitching about bugs bunny being made into a white dude in live action. No, the issue is not whatever race they picked. It’s the fact they turned a purely cartoon world/character into live action. But I guess missing the point is the usual thing.

      • Wizkamridr

        IMO goku is japanese and or asian even if he is an alien. He was based on the monkey king which is asian mythology. I believe it is chinese but whatever.
        This is just my opinion. ABTW db evolution sucked dragon balls.

      • Thomas Stockel

        I never specified Goku’s nationality in the cartoon, nor did I
        speculated on that. I merely pointed out that in order to sell a live
        action Dragonball movie to American masses they cast a white actor.

  • Muthsarah

    I know release dates are not only set a year or more in advance, and are frequently used for dick-waving by studio execs, but given a) that the movie has been in the works for quite a while, b) someone somewhere once thought this would work, and c) Marvel hasn’t had a failed movie yet, why aren’t they willing to be more flexible with the release date, if it helps them to find someone to re-imagine the film in a way the studio investors feel comfortable with, without letting the year-in-advance release date complicate everything?

    I’ve always thought Ant-Man was too goofy for mainstream audiences (Guardians of the Galaxy seems like The Avengers in comparison), in a very Silver Age way to which even the lighter comics adaptations are, at most, willing to pay lip-service. But if you have some names attached, people willing to work for not too much, go ahead and make it. Just keep the filming budget modest, reserve most of the money for marketing, and it doesn’t HAVE to be a huge hit, just something to keep the momentum going and give the die-hards something to be happy about, so you have more lee-way with the bigger-budgeted productions. Make a $60 million superhero movie that can afford to look a LITTLE cheap if it’s done in a kinda-retro way that fits the uniqueness of the product. With the Marvel name slapped on, and a coupla references to the bigger movies, I imagine it would still look pretty attractive to the general public. I don’t see why this project needs to be abandoned.

    • mamba

      There’s a reason “ant man” ended up having 4 different personas…no matter what they do to the character, nothing seems to stick in the public mind! They’ve spent decades trying anything to make people like him, or at least care that he exists, and nothing works. when you change someone that radically and every time the reaction is the same “Meeeh”, at what point do you just kill them off and save the trouble? 🙂

      Really he should just be a background scientist or something…who has some cool inventions like the shrinking and ant communication, but NOT the active lead in any movie. Ironically the powers are kinda cool (shrinks but maintains full grown strength is difficult to fight, and able to control insects is hardly a pushover when you can sent an entire swarm of bees at your target), but that requires thought on how to USE it, and lazy writers don’t like to give it a lot of thought it seems.

      As others have said, if you want a shrinking hero, go with Wasp…MUCH more potential there!

  • conservative man

    Just exactly who is demanding to see a Ant man film anyway ? This movie I’m afraid ( if it ever comes out ) is going to be a dissapointing failure, I agree better move on to something else that has better movie potential.

  • Wizkamridr
  • Zack_Dolan

    Besides the fact that i too couldn’t give two shits less about ant man, i actually am not jumping to the conclusion that the movie is ruined bcs Wright left. a lot of people went right to the assumption that wright made this visionary script and the EEEEEEEEvil studio wanted to ruin it with their meddling, but the fact is, nobody knows what was in that script. we have no reason to assume it was great and we’re getting cheated out of this hypothetically great ant man film. in reality, it’s just as likely he turned in a pretentious boring mess or maybe a self indulgent message movie, or maybe it just didn’t jive with this expansive movie universe they’ve already sunk billions into and can’t risk wrecking for one man’s “vision”. None of us really know what the deal really was there. but i do know two things. one: out of almost a dozen movies, marvel has turned in almost all decent to awesome films, with one notable exception. and two: that one notable exception sucked as hard as it did precisely BECAUSE marvel didn’t step in and tell shane black he was making an iron man movie, not Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2. Maybe this time they did just that bcs against all odds they learned from their mistake and didn’t want to let wright make “Antvatar” the story of a man who shrinks himself down and discovers a microscopic fantasy kingdom and falls in love with a sexy dust mite and repels oil tycoons from sweeping away their little Who-ville. We may never know. Until i see that script he wrote, or a trailer for what they end up making, i’m not gonna judge anything. I’m def. not going to condemn the studio for making a decision that i don’t know any of the factors that lead up to it. After all, sometimes studio interference makes movies better. sometimes when you take the leash off a director, they create Jar Jar Binks and make Darth Vader a whiny emo bitch haha

  • MichaelANovelli

    But, Ant-Man is completely necessary! He was a founding member of The Avengers!

    • And Thor had a secret identity, but the films have done just fine without it.

      • Zack_Dolan

        well, to be fair the comic itself has done without it for decades now. in truth, it was a pretty silly and mostly superfluous part of his character anyway, and he actually makes more sense without it. however, ant man has been a member of the avengers pretty consistantly for as long as there has been an avengers to be a part of. he was a member before hawkeye, black widow, captain america AND the hulk and they all got in the movies before him. (and soon we can add quicksilver, the scarlet witch and vision to the list of people who joined after but got into the movie first) plus, he kind of created the villain of the next avengers movie so…yeah prob. would be good to get some screen time at some point

  • Immortan Scott

    And they have a director lined up: Peyton Reed, director of The Break-Up and Bring It On.

    This is the first time I haven’t been looking forward to a Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

  • Moppet

    I really want to see Wasp in an Avengers movie at some point, partially because I like the character and partially because I would like a Female member of the team with actual super powers. Or at least for Black Widow to make way, way more use of her gauntlets. I have this sick feeling that if Ant Man doesn’t happen, or happens, but goes badly, that we’ll never see Wasp. Even if Ant-Man works out I have this bad feeling they’ll either toss out the idea of using her, or do horrible things with the character.

    I’ve seen versions of Ant-Man that were likable, it’s not good practice to blame a character for their writer’s questionable ideas. I don’t really care about Ant-Man, mind you, but I do want to see Wasp, and those two tend to be connected at the hip, as far as I’m familiar with the characters – you don’t tend to get one without the other.

    Yeah, there are other female characters associated with the Avengers, I want to see several of them as well, but with an Ant-Man movie in the here and now, it seems like Wasp would be a go to choice. So where’s my Wasp Marvel? Where? Yeah. This post is more about wanting Wasp in an Avengers movie than it is about agreeing or disagreeing with the article. :3

  • Moppet

    On a Similar note, where is the Black Panther movie to tie in with the Avengers? T’Challa has been a member of the Avengers in my memory. I know there’s an audience for the Black Panther, we’ve even see actors who wanted to play him. That seems like a movie that should happen.

    • Thomas Stockel

      See my comments below about white people in movies. Hollywood might seem liberal with all it’s outspoken actors, but the fact is a lot of the people who control the money are often narrow minded racists who assume white people won’t go see films with non-whites in the lead. I am frankly shocked we got three Blade movies. But if you look at the third film Blade is a supporting character in his own film because they turned it into a backdoor pilot for a new franchise…starring two pretty white people. No wonder Wesley Snipes was so upset shooting it.

      I would love to see a Black Panther movie, but I doubt it’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll see the Panther in Avengers III. Hollywood execs don’t have a problem with black people in supporting roles, after all.

      • Moppet

        I did read it (I like the 13th Warrior too), but I’m never able to wrap my head around the idea. When I was little I didn’t have friends of a particular gender, skin color or religious association, I just had friends. Whatever their qualities they were friends before any other aspect about them. I’ve grown up on a world that’s made me aware of those qualities, and what some people out there think of them, but it doesn’t mean I’ll ever really understand the hate, or what it can make people do/say.

        Then again I was raised overseas for a decent portion of my life, and attended international schools, if I’d been even the slightest bit racist I’d have popped every blood vessel in my head within the first day.

        Maybe we’ll get a supporting Black Panther, maybe that will be just enough to make someone realize that there is an audience that would love to see a whole movie dedicated to the character. Maybe. I’m sad now.

        • Immortan Scott

          Most of the Hollywood money men grew up in a time when having black friends was stigmatized. They don’t seem to realize that people born today haven’t had that experience.

    • Zed

      ” I know there’s an audience for the Black Panther”

      Not one that justifies the making of a movie about him., as evidenced by the fact that the last 3 comic books about him were cancelled due to low sales.

  • Gallen Dugall

    From a business perspective you’re right, there’s no reason for them to take a risk on this film, however you didn’t sell me on this movie failing being a bad thing. What’s the worst that could happen? You point to Iron Man 2 which was a mess, but it had moments… and frankly to this day I’m not sure how it set up the Avengers aside from the end scene. The problem with that film IMO was that Iron Man remained oblivious to the threats confronting him until it was time for ‘SPLOSION! This did much to ratchet down the tension – to the point where the Russkie really should have been removed entirely and the whole villain plot rewritten to be entirely about Hammer stealing Stark tech since that was all B plot anyway for the Stark dying main story. Even with it’s problems the result isn’t as bad as any of the Transformers films.

  • Jay_Bay

    So put me down for +1 on the whole “Who actually cares about Ant-Man” train. But I will ask this…

    The next Avengers movie will have Ultron as a villain. Now correct me if I am wrong (and please do if I am), but not just Ultron’s creation, but his drive, his attitude, his motivations, his whole being all either came from or was heavily influenced by Hank Pym. So…how are they gonna do that?

    • Immortan Scott

      From what I hear, Tony Stark is going to create Ultron in the next Avengers.

  • Jonathan Campbell

    And one 2 minute reason why this article might be wrong.