Age of the Geek

 

Ant-Man Is Short A Director

 

     All good things must come to an end. Is that time coming for Marvel Studios?

     The company that brought "The Avengers" to the big screen has built up an impressive batting average since they started making their own movies in 2008. "The Avengers" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," are easily two of the best comic book movies ever made. The upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy" looks to be a load of fun as well.

     Even their worst offerings have never been bad.

     Sure, there was that time Edward Norton was miscast in "The Incredible Hulk," or that middle part of "Iron Man 3" where Shane Black forgot he wasn't making a "Lethal Weapon" movie, but the worst of Marvel Studios has never been as bad as say, "X-Men: The Last Stand" or "Man of Steel."

     But, statistically, it has to happen eventually. Nobody hits homeruns forever and, like Pixar before them, Marvel Studios will eventually churn out a stinker.

     And that stinker might be "Ant-Man."

     Set to follow "Avengers: Age of Ultron" in 2015, "Ant-Man" will mark the start of Marvel's Phase Three.

     By all accounts, everything was looking good. The movie was being helmed by Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz," "The World's End"), who had been attached to the project since 2006. "Ant-Man" has been a passion project for Wright for years. Without him, it's likely the movie wouldn't be in development in the first place.

     So imagine everybody's surprise when he walked off the project last week.

     Citing "creative differences," with the implication that Marvel was pushing Wright with more studio notes than he was apparently comfortable with, this is the first major stumble in what has so far been a tightly run ship.

     Which begs the question, what could Marvel Studios possibly have done to cause such an irreconcilable split? Wright walking away now is like a star quarterback quitting his team in the middle of the Super Bowl playoffs. Were they so overbearing that Wright no longer recognized the movie as his work? Or was it Wright, who has a reputation for dramatics, that couldn't follow reasonable instructions?

     In either case, "Ant-Man" is without a director, which is a problem for a movie scheduled to start filming in a few weeks. And even if a director is found, what would that mean for the movie itself? Edgar Wright is leaving behind a script tailored to his unique visual style. Can a replacement director rise to the task of picking up where Wright left off?

     "Ant-Man" itself was always a risky endeavor. In spite of his status as a founding member of The Avengers, he's never had the popularity of his peers. This movie already had an uphill climb. Without the man who was effectively the soul of the movie, it's hard to say what will happen.

     Perhaps Marvel will tap an up-and-coming talent who will create a masterpiece that breaks box-office records and turns Ant-Man into a household name.

     Or maybe the movie will stumble over itself trying to combine what remains of Wright's vision with Marvel's desire for general appeal.

     I suppose we'll know more once a new director is actually found. Until then, the chances of "Ant-Man" impressing audiences is looking very small.

 

     Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and almost made to the end without a pun.