Oh, Marvel. Why are you doing this? Nevermind the disaster of a decision that it is creatively, the strategy you have employed the last few years has made you a lot of money. You trusted Joss Whedon with the Avengers back when he was just the guy who couldn’t keep a show on television for more than a season and it made 1.5 billion dollars. You trusted a couple of guys from Community (you know, that wildly successful audience hit Community?) with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it’s made 700 million dollars so far. You had proved that audiences will flock to theaters for a higher quality product. You had every nerd on the planet looking forward to seeing Ant-Man (Ant-Man!) for one reason. Edgar Wright.
You had a machine that printed money and made people happy and you took to it with a baseball bat for reasons that I cannot possibly fathom. Let me throw a number at you. 667,999,518. As of this moment, that is what Man of Steel made at the worldwide box office. That’s quite a lot of money, but do you know what else it is? It’s less than half what the Avengers made. Superman is an American icon. Superman is as famous as Coca Cola. More people know who Superman is than know what a comic book is. Five movie build up or not, there is no reason Man of Steel shouldn’t have beaten Avengers at the box office. You took a group of no names and made a movie that beat the hell out of SUPERMAN and you did it by trusting the talent. So why would you do anything but continue to trust the talent at this point?
The way I see it, there are two things you can do to make this right. Well. One and a half. The first is obvious. You throw out your garbage rewrites, apologize to Edgar Wright, and offer him whatever it takes (money, sequels, your first born child) to get him to come back.
If that’s impossible (which it’s not), the only thing to do is blow it up and start over. You can make a good Ant-Man movie without Edgar Wright, but hiring Rawson Thurber to make Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man is just about the dumbest thing you could do. That’s like Louis C.K. cancelling a show and giving everyone Jeff Dunham tickets instead of refunds. That’s like a restaurant saying they don’t have Dr. Pepper but they do have prune La Croix. That’s like promising everyone the next Shaun of the Dead and giving them the next We’re the Millers.
You’ve irrevocably broken the Ant-Man movie you were going to make, but there’s nothing stopping you from making a new one. Here are three directors that could help you with that.
Duncan Jones. A lot of people have talked about how great 2009’s Moon was and they’re right to do that. With his first movie, Jones established himself as a masterful director and took one giant leap out of his father’s shadow. But it’s his second film that I think really demonstrates how he could absolutely rock Ant-Man.
Source Code may have been the most overlooked movie released in 2011. It does an amazing job of making a very convoluted time travel plot accessible and sneaks some great action sequences into a movie set almost entirely on a cramped train. Unconventional action and an out there plot that needs to be explained without slowing down the pacing? Does that sound like any superhero we know? And what is Paul Rudd if not a combination of Sam Rockwell’s charm and Jake Gyllenhaal’s clean cut appearance?
If all that is not enough to convince you, then consider the fact that Duncan Jones was passed over for Man of Steel in favor of Zack “Sucker Punch” Snyder. You’d be getting a great director and heroically righting one of the great wrongs in modern super hero film history all at the same time.
David Lynch. I know, this is a long shot. His last feature film, Inland Empire, was released in 2007 and he seems more interested in making damn fine coffee and weird music than movies these days, but before Inland Empire, it had been six years since he released a feature. The eight years between 2007 and Ant-Man’s project 2015 release isn’t much longer, so this is not totally out of the question.
Lynch isn’t exactly known for mainstream summer blockbusters or straightforward storytelling, but I believe he’s a perfect fit. Who is Ant-Man, really? He’s not the guy who wears the American flag and always does the right thing. He’s not the guy who tries to be a hero, but is mostly an arrogant jerk. He’s not even the guy whose hubris was punished with the occasional outbreak of green monsterism. He’s the guy who sometimes hits his wife and accidentally created an artificial intelligence that will eventually destroy the world. I know neither of those things will be in the movie, but my point stands. More so than most heroes, Ant-Man is someone who operates in the dark fringes of the Marvel Universe. Ask yourself: would a disembodied ear in the grass seem so out of place in Ant-Man’s world?
The Coen Brothers. Listen, I’m no fool. I realize this probably isn’t going to happen, but just think about it for a second.
Actually, nevermind. Ant-Man is outwardly (or at least sees himself as) a genius, but also kind of a bumbling idiot who makes a series of mistakes with extraordinarily grave consequences. What would the Coens know about a character like that?
Do the right thing, Marvel. Pick someone interesting to do Ant-Man, whether it’s one of my four or not. Sure, you’ll still coast for a while if you don’t. Guardians of the Galaxy looks amazing. Joss Whedon is still on board for Avengers 2, but if you keep on this path, it will come crashing down. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually. Do you know what Avengers 3 is going to make then? 667,999,518.