While the films under the Marvel Studios banner have proven to be enormously popular with moviegoers (even in what’s presumed to be an “off” year for the studio, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are both currently in the Top 10 grossing films of 2015), there’s no doubt that there are certain creative difficulties behind the scenes in how these films get made.
Witness the reported struggles with movies like Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man, and even Age of Ultron: from a director being locked out of the editing bay, to multiple filmmakers (Edgar Wright and Patty Jenkins) walking off projects. Even Joss Whedon wasn’t immune, speaking in depth with Buzzfeed about the problems he faced in crafting his superhero team-up sequel. Recently, Ava DuVernay, probably the closest the Marvel brand has come to flirting with an auteur since Wright, ended up passing on Black Panther stating:
In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.
On the film side of blogosphere, Marvel is seen as a place of enjoyable cinema, but never great cinema. Given the constraints and quality control that’s been placed on their output, they weren’t going to make a Fantastic Four-sized flop, but they likely were also never on a course to make a Dark Knight either. The brand always seemed to trump inventive storytelling in a way that was quickly lending itself to tedium. But now, Devin Faraci over at Birth.Movies.Death. reports that things may be taking a turn for the better for Kevin Feige and company.
Following on the news that Feige will no longer be reporting Ike Perlmutter, and instead will be going to straight to Disney chair Alan Horn regarding the studio’s day to day, comes word that Marvel’s “creative committee” made up of Alan Fine, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Buckley, and Joe Quesada has been disbanded to the great relief of Feige, Louis D’Esposito, and Victoria Alonso, who will now be in charge of all of Marvel Studios’ creative decision making.
With Quesada and Bendis on this committee, you’d think that would be a positive, but not so according to Faraci:
On paper that sounds like a great line-up of talent, but it seems as if in practice it was often a source of frustration. Over the years I’ve heard many stories of the Creative Committee giving notes that are pedestrian, motivated by ‘save the cat’ story logic and sometimes a drag on creativity. One Marvel creative talked to me about battles with the Creative Committee where they focused on details of nit-picky science that ignored the general tone of the script itself. The notes that drove Edgar Wright off Ant-Man came from the Creative Committee. What’s more, the Creative Committee was often very tardy with their notes, making movie development a much slower process. All of the Committee members have other, very important jobs, so you understand why that would be the case, but it was a pain for filmmakers. And that’s before taking into account the political divisions within Marvel that also created friction with the Creative Committee.
He states that the committee may still oversee some elements of Marvel Television, which will still be overseen by Perlmutter and Jeph Loeb, but this may mark a whole new day for the films and perhaps may spark some exciting and new creative directions. Faraci states that you can expect to see the first real fruits of this new era after Doctor Strange, where the films that have yet to enter heavy pre-production will debut (Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Captain Marvel, etc…)
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.