I tell you, there was no superhero movie I was more excited about than Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man. Having been developed for years and years, you can imagine what sort of incredible “film that could have been” I had worked up in my head. And once he had left under circumstances that seemed fairly damning on the part of Marvel, all my interest in the project flittered away.

I eventually saw Ant-Man on Blu-ray months later, and I liked it, but I still can’t help but feel that we lost something really special in Wright’s exit. Yet, in the trade-up, we instead got Baby Driver, his upcoming original film about a getaway driver with tinnitus, who has to constantly listen to music to drown out the ringing in his ears. I actually saw it just a few days ago at the critics’ screening in Atlanta (where, coincidentally, the film takes place and was filmed), and I absolutely loved it. It’s basically a hidden musical in the form of an action movie, and the action is pretty breathtaking in places. After the credits rolled, my first instinct was to compare it to that feeling you get when you’re sucked into and bobbing your head to some really good tunes, but thrown onto the screen and somehow translated into a story.

It’s quite possibly his best movie. I don’t know, I change my opinion on my favorite Wright picture with the wind, to be honest. But regardless, this is a film that may not have happened, at least not right now, without parting ways with Marvel Studios – as he discussed with my pal Kris Tapley on the Variety Playback Podcast (transcribed by Collider):

I think the most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie. It was a really heartbreaking decision to have to walk away after having worked on it for so long, because me and Joe Cornish in some form—it’s funny some people say, ‘Oh they’ve been working on it for eight years’ and that was somewhat true, but in that time I had made three movies so it wasn’t like I was working on it full time. But after The World’s End I did work on it for like a year, I was gonna make the movie. But then I was the writer-director on it and then they wanted to do a draft without me, and having written all my other movies, that’s a tough thing to move forward thinking if I do one of these movies I would like to be the writer-director. Suddenly becoming a director for hire on it, you’re sort of less emotionally invested and you start to wonder why you’re there, really…The good thing that came out of it is I got to kind of move on to [Baby Driver], which was a script that I had already written. And maybe one of the ironies about it is I had thought in the back of my head, ‘Well if the Marvel movie does well, maybe I’ll have enough muscle to get Baby Driver made,’ and so it’s ironic I guess that I didn’t make that movie and got Baby Driver made, and with a studio, which for an original movie is very rare. And the other important thing for me is almost the entirety of my crew who were gonna do that movie sort of left in solidarity, so it was really important to me to get another film going so I could kind of re-employ them all. So the funny thing about Baby Driver is it pretty much features all the [Heads of Department] who were gonna do the other movie with me.

Keep in mind, this was back in the day when what was dubbed as the “Marvel Creative Committee” was still in existence, which was when Marvel Studios Head Kevin Feige had to answer to Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and there was a very specific “Marvel formula” in place that surely was incompatible with a filmmaker like Wright. Now of course, that’s no longer the case, and Feige is working with filmmakers like Ryan Coogler and Taika Waititi – who hopefully are being given much freer reign. We’ll find out soon enough.

Regardless, Baby Driver rules and is out next week, go see it, it’s one of the best movies of the year – maybe THE best, between it and Logan, just toss a coin right now.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. The whole problem is that Wright makes movies — you know, CINEMA — while Marvel Studios makes two-hour television episodes that cost $150M and are projected in theaters. There was bound to be a conflict, because Wright and Marvel don’t work in the same medium.

  2. You know, George, I was thinking about you the other day when I saw this article: http://www.slashfilm.com/warner-bros-reportedly-wants-to-avoid-working-with-auteur-directors-who-want-final-cut/

    Looks like the Marvel model is going to be copied all the way down to how directors are chosen. I expect these studios to stop looking at one-hit up and comers for these projects and more journeymen vets instead. The shift-over from Lord and Miller to Ron Howard seems almost emblematic in that regard.

  3. I have nothing against Ron Howard — he’s made a lot of very good movies. I just don’t have much interest in a “young Han Solo” movie, regardless of who directs it. THE LAST JEDI is likely to be the last Star Wars movie I pay to see.

    I liked this comment from film critic/historian Mark Harris: “There’s a strain of film crit that reveres reliable craftsmen if they’re dead but devalues its living practitioners (like Ron Howard).”

    It’s sad to read fanboys’ online cheering for the companies behind these mega-franchises, and applauding them for getting rid of “quirky” (visionary) directors. I seriously doubt a Tim Burton, Sam Raimi or Chris Nolan would be hired to direct a superhero movie today. Not that I like every movie those guys have directed (I don’t), but they put an unmistakable stamp on their films. We won’t see much of that in the future, I’m afraid.

  4. BABY DRIVER opens nationally tomorrow. Can’t wait!

    Also see Walter Hill’s THE DRIVER (`1978), which Wright has cited as a major influence on his film.

Leave a Reply