And you thought that Marvel had a hectic weekend last week? In a 48-hour period that saw me change the headline to this article about 5 times, the comic book studio appeared to have cleaned up the mess left behind when fan-favourite visionary director Edgar Wright decided to pull out of his 8-year long passion project, Ant-Man, due to not being willing to compromise his vision of the movie in favour of Marvel’s enforced “bigger picture” ideas, only for Marvel to be left right back in the formic feces.
When Marvel Studios exec Kevin Feige revealed that they wouldn’t be shifting Ant-Man‘s planned July 17, 2015 release date, it became clear that the studio intended to get somebody in Wright’s replacement who could come in and work dirty by doing the rewrite on the fly to placate the higher-ups while also maintaining the seemingly heavy comedic tone that Wright had been aiming for. With that in mind, and with the industry buzz indicating that an announcement was imminent, Friday night saw the pundits all toss their favourite contenders’ names into the ring, including those of Marvel exec Louis D’Esposito, who has swapped out his business suit to get behind the camera a few times now already on Marvel’s Agent Carter and Item 47 One-Shots, and even Captain America himself, Chris Evans, who had previously stated that he wanted to get into directing.
However come Saturday morning, neither of those names were to be seen as THR had reportedly uncovered the trio of directors who Marvel were looking at to quickly fill Wright’s shoes: Adam McKay, Rawson Thurber and Ruben Fleischer.
Fleischer had been a hot property after the success of Zombieland, even being Warner Bros’ top pick to direct a Justice League movie for the longest time, but he had seen his stock rapidly plummet after the failure of Gangster Squad (a movie ironically starring Marvel alum Anthony Mackie, who plays Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Josh Brolin, who you may have heard just landed the titanic gig of Marvel’s big bad Thanos). Thurber had a cult favourite hit on his hands with Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and then followed that up last year with the huge surprise hit We’re the Millers. And McKay is of course most famous for comedy collaborations with Will Ferrell, like Anchorman, Step Brothers and The Other Guys, which has garnered him lots of fans and success.
Of the three, most (including myself) thought that McKay would probably be the best choice, based not only on his insanely clear talent for offbeat comedy, but also having the ability to successfully combine that with the fairly decent action chops he showed off in The Other Guys (“Aim for the bushes!”). What’s more, he already had lots of experience working with with Ant-Man lead Paul Rudd, which would make the transition that much easier. Which of course meant that Marvel probably wouldn’t pick him, because life is just not fair like that, right?
Wrong. Because less than 24 hours after McKay first became attached to this story, Variety was reporting that McKay had in fact landed the job and had apparently met with Marvel for negotiations the day before already. Admittedly, Adam McKay is no Edgar Wright when it comes to an out of this world visual flair or jaw dropping action choreography (check out the animated gif below of Wright’s Ant-Man test footage), but under the circumstances he was the next best thing, and the news left a lot of fans mostly relieved that we would actually see an Ant-Man that may just be as good as the film we had been promised for nearly the last decade.
But then, less than 2 hours after they had broke the news that McKay had got the gig, Variety revealed that the director had suddenly pulled out of negotiations and would no longer be in the running for the film. His abrupt departure signaled that something must have gone wrong in the negotiations, with some suspecting the problem to be salary related. However it appears that it was maybe a scheduling problem, as McKay himself revealed shortly thereafter on Twitter.
And yes, met w/Marvel. Kirby & Lee r my Lennon Mccartney so it was awesome. But have other projects I’m committed to. Not sure it can work.
— Adam McKay (@GhostPanther) May 31, 2014
And just like that, Marvel was right back to where they were a week ago. There has been no word yet on whether Fleischer or Thurber are still in the mix, with some pundits even claiming that Marvel may never have intended to pick them, but merely used their presence as an extra lure/motivation to land McKay. If Marvel are still considering the two though, then you would have to think that Thurber would be the next logical choice, with him coming off a film that made just shy of $270 million on a $37 million budget.
Thurber’s biggest problem though is that he is simply nowhere near as creative behind the camera as Wright, or even McKay. He’s a point and shoot kind of guy, which may ingratiate him with the Marvel Powers That Be that don’t want another director who might rock the boat, but may just lead to a far less interesting film. It has to be noted though that Thurber has never been given the type of big budget and fancy tools to play with as whomever gets the job will almost certainly enjoy, so if he is the chosen one he may just surprise us.
With the clock rapidly ticking away the seconds to Ant-Man‘s scheduled release date, expect Marvel to make a decision on all of this real fast. Hell, I may even have to change this article’s headline for the sixth time.
Last Updated: June 2, 2014