As triumph so often turns to tragedy, just as what is arguably Marvel Studio’s greatest achievement—the extremely well reviewed, successful and genre busting Captain America: The Winter Soldier—showed that they could take any old character and craft a taut, suspenseful narrative, and excitement was growing for Guardians of the Galaxy, along came the big Ant-Man kersplat. Just as a reminder, the film was in development for eight years with quirky director/writer duo Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, and Marvel so believed in that vision that they put up with delays, both personal and scheduling, for EIGHT YEARS and yet just as the film was going into production, things were suddenly not so hunky dory and the director and Marvel parted ways, probably over a rewritten script.
Plucky Marvel insisted that the film would still meet its July 17, 2015 release date and even claimed to have a director on board already, so there. But this evolved into them trying to FIND a director and three candidates lining up, all on the comedy end of the spectrum, Adam McKay (Anchorman), Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball). As soon as McKay’s name leaked out, he assured everyone he was not actually going to direct Ant-Man. Now there is a report of kinda dodgy origins that Thurber is also out. I’m not giving this a 100%, but it kind of sums up the shambolic state this project has now fallen into. Often acerbic comics commentator Alex Pappedemas has a piece called Marvel Grits Teeth, Rolls Forward With Ant-Man Movie Literally Nobody Wants that pretty much sums up the basic problem: eight yes were spent developing a film based on a very obscure character because of the unique and well-defined approach of the filmmakers. Trying to adapt that vision into whatever the studio now wants is hardly a prospect that inspires folks to shout “This is my dream project!”
Seriously there was ONE HUMAN BEING for whom Ant-Man was a dream project and that is Edgar Wright, who is no longer making an Ant-Man movie.
Pappedemas and other observers suggest that Marvel is moving forward with this movie out of sheer stubbornness. Maybe so, I trust the Marvel machine to make an entertaining movie, probably with the aid of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo guest starring. Actually “Ant-Man and the Hulk” — that would be a fine movie.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy in this is that if the film isn’t made, Paul Rudd will have gotten all buff for no reason at all. I’ve mentioned that Marvel has an excellent physical therapy department, and they turned 275 lb couch potato Chris Pratt into a guy confident enough to take his shirt off for Instagram and Starlord. And so they turned 45-year-old Rudd into another beefcake specimen who would have been proud to show off a skintight suit. Those Marvel guys are good, we told you.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.