When Edgar Wright left Ant-Man, a lot of excitement for the film went out the door with him. His involvement is what made the project so appealing in the first place. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World showed the director isn’t interested in making a run-of-the-mill comic book movie, but doing something fresh, new, and its own thing. Of course, that’s not the kind of comic book movie we see often enough. Since Wright left Ant-Man over creative differences, was it a matter of Marvel balking over taking some risks? That’s what a lot of fans understandably suspect.
After seeing James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s difficult to fathom Marvel getting cold feet over taking another risk. Guardians of the Galaxy is a superhero movie with a talking raccoon, some good old-fashioned dick jokes, and, basically, more of what you’d expect from James Gunn (Slither). Guardians doesn’t feel like a project Gunn had to make compromises on, but instead got to make a movie he can call his own that happened to cost $150m. Perhaps taking chances wasn’t the problem with Ant-Man. Maybe it really was just two different visions that couldn’t see eye-to-eye.
Whatever the story is, it’s a shame Wright’s departure had to happen so late in the game, but now both the filmmaker and the studio are moving forward. Thankfully, Marvel didn’t enlist some slouch to replace Wright. Director Peyton Reed may have directed Yes Man, but he’s also the man behind Bring it On, The Break-Up, and, one of the best comedies in the last 15 years, Down with Love. He’s a director that brings a surprising amount of personality to potentially middle-of-the-road projects.
Since Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige is currently busy fielding questions over Edgar Wright’s past involvement with the project, we thought it’d be best to ask about the version of Ant-Man we’ll actually see. When I mentioned how fantastic Down with Love is, Feige’s enthusiasm for that film and Reed’s body of work rang loud and clear.
“I think you’ll find, from all his films, Ant-Man is the kind of film he’d want to make,” says Feige, when asked what we should expect from the director’s Ant-Man. “It’s just like James Gunn bringing his sensibility to Guardians. Most of our filmmakers have great examples of wonderful things they’ve done, but yearn to do something bigger or different. With Peyton, I think he’s got a great body of work. He has Down with Love and Bring It On which, frankly, kickstarted a genre in itself for a number of years. I do think his sensibility is apparent in all those movies. I don’t think it’s dissimilar about what’s great — and what continues to be so great — about Jon Favreau, is that he’s a master of tone. If you look at Elf it could’ve been a very shallow comedy, but it’s a holiday classic now. We thought it was the showcase for him doing something bigger. We thought the same with the movies Peyton has done.”
Reed is also a huge Ant-Man fan, which isn’t a prerequisite for Marvel, but, according to Feige, it helps. “You have to love something and respect something to sort of twist it,” adds Feige. That’s exactly what Reed has done in the past. He can poke fun at genre while also making a great example of that genre, which he came close to doing with Fantastic Four years ago. It’s a skill set that should serve Ant-Man well.
Once the dust settles over Wright’s departure, maybe some fans will find a way to become excited again for Ant-Man. There’s plenty in this movie to look forward to. After all, it is a comic book movie starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, has a script Edgar Wright and Adam McKay worked on, and it’s from the director of Down with Love. There’s no shortage of talent involved.
Ant-Man opens in theaters July 17th, 2015.