To say fans are dismayed at the abrupt exit of director Edgar Wright from his long-planned Marvel adaptation Ant-Man is an understatement. The filmmaker departed the film last week after the studio heavily rewrote his script, leaving the studio scrambling to find a replacement with just under a year before the film’s release. Since filming had already been pushed back to address issues Marvel had with the script by Wright and Joe Cornish, we knew a replacement announcement would be coming soon, and now a list of filmmakers that are meeting with the studio has surfaced. With contenders like Adam McKay (Anchorman), Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), and Rawson Thurber (We’re the Millers) in the mix, it’s clear that Marvel is keen on landing a director well-versed in the comedy genre. Hit the jump for more.
[Update: A new report pegs Thurber as the frontrunner for the job.]
We’ve been hearing over the past couple of days that a director replacement announcement on Ant-Man is imminent, and Heat Vision reports that Adam McKay, Ruben Fleischer, and Rawson Thurber are among the directors that are meeting with the studio. Wright—who had been working on Ant-Man since 2006—envisioned the film as a caper comedy, and since most of the pic is likely already storyboarded and pre-vized, much of his central premise likely remains intact. As such, Marvel is looking at filmmakers who have experience handling comedy.
McKay is the most interesting filmmaker on this shortlist, and he also seems the most likely. He has experience with more action-oriented features like The Other Guys and has a close relationship with Ant-Man star Paul Rudd. He’s been hoping to next tackle a remake of Uptown Saturday Night with Will Smith and Denzel Washington, but as far as we know that hasn’t been firmed up yet. He’s also attached to direct the financial crisis drama The Big Short, but he only just started working on the screenplay. As such, one imagines the prospect of helming a big Marvel movie—with the familiarity of Rudd in the lead, no less—is enticing. Moreover, McKay’s heavy improvisational style on his films means he’s comfortable rewriting on the fly, which will no doubt be necessary as cameras roll soon on the film. This is also a “best of a bad situation” scenario for Rudd, who undoubtedly signed on to star in an Edgar Wright film as much as he did a Marvel movie.
Fleischer and Thurber are interesting as well, though Fleischer’s last two films (30 Minutes or Less, Gangster Squad) have failed to live up to the promise of Zombieland. And Heat Vision also mentions Jonathan Levine as a potential contender, though he’s gearing up to direct an untitled film with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so it seems unlikely this could fit in his schedule.
At the end of the day, though, there’s simply no “replacing” Edgar Wright on a project that was unabashedly his, and since this project is already brushing up heavily on a deadline, whoever is brought in will mostly be executing a vision dictated by Marvel. If I had my druthers, there would be no Ant-Man without Wright.
We should hear an official announcement regarding Wright’s replacement soon, but what do you think, readers? Which one of these choices would be the “best” to direct Marvel’s first film of Phase Three? Could Adam McKay taking the helm entice you back to the project? Sound off in the comments below. Ant-Man is scheduled for release on July 17, 2015 and also stars Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, and Patrick Wilson.