James Gunn Responds to Edgar Wright’s Exit from ANT-MAN

by     Posted 187 days ago

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The fallout from Edgar Wright’s departure from Marvel’s Ant-Man is still being measured, especially since a recent rumor suggests that the reason was less the innocuous “creative differences” and more due to extensive script rewrites from the studio with top-down pressure from Disney/Marvel.  Caught in the middle is director James Gunn, who is friends with Wright but also the writer/director of Marvel’s next big effort, Guardians of the Galaxy.  As such, he recently posted a carefully worded response to the news on his own personal Facebook page.  Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

james-gunn-stan-lee-edgar-wrightHere’s Gunn’s response to Wright’s exit from Ant-Man, which he recently posted on his Facebook page (via BC):

Sometimes you have friends in a relationship. You love each of them dearly as individuals and think they’re amazing people. When they talk to you about their troubles, you do everything you can to support them, to keep them together, because if you love them both so much doesn’t it make sense they should love each other? But little by little you realize, at heart, they aren’t meant to be together – not because there’s anything wrong with either of them, but they just don’t have personalities that mesh in a comfortable way. They don’t make each other happy. Although it’s sad to see them split, when they do, you’re surprisingly relieved, and excited to see where their lives take them next.

It’s easy to try to make one party “right” and another party “wrong” when a breakup happens, but it often isn’t that simple. Or perhaps it’s even more simple than that – not everyone belongs in a relationship together. It doesn’t mean they’re not wonderful people.

And that’s true of both Edgar Wright and Marvel. One of them isn’t a person, but I think you get what I mean.

Let’s be honest, Gunn is in a tight spot here.  Say nothing and he risks damaging his friendship with Wright (and the less important street credit among fans); say the wrong thing or come on too strong in support of Wright and he takes the chance of running afoul of the egos at Disney/Marvel and ruining his business relationship.  It really is a no-win situation, but Gunn’s response is an attempt to assuage both parties and keep his ass out of the fryer.

What’s strange about the whole thing is that Gunn, as a director, is more of an unknown to general audiences than Wright, yet Disney/Marvel seems just fine with letting him write/direct as he sees fit on Guardians.  Is Gunn just better at playing along with studio demands?  Or has the top-down pressure from Disney to Marvel increased of late, only to land squarely on Wright’s shoulders?  It’s a very strange turn of events considering Marvel’s recent successes over the last decade, and yet it’s an all-too-common occurrence in the world of big studio productions.

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  • Nick

    “What’s strange about… is that Gunn, as a director, is more of an unknown to general audiences than Wright, yet Disney/Marvel seems just fine with letting him write/direct as he sees fit on Guardians.” – I don’t know if that’s true, or if Gunn’s vision was just more in line with Disney/Marvel. Spielberg could want to direct a Marvel, but if his vision wasn’t what the studio wanted, the whole thing would fall apart, regardless of how big his name was.

    • Chris

      I think you’re spot on. Also, let’s be honest, Gunn wouldn’t really have the clout to demand anything of Guardians because he isn’t a big name director like Wright. I’m sure a part of the Guardians process for him was just being happy to be working on such a big movie for once.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Like I said directly after your quoted section: “Is Gunn just better at playing along with studio demands? Or has the top-down pressure from Disney to Marvel increased of late, only to land squarely on Wright’s shoulders?”

    • Dave Trumbore

      Like I said directly after your quoted section: “Is Gunn just better at playing along with studio demands? Or has the top-down pressure from Disney to Marvel increased of late, only to land squarely on Wright’s shoulders?”

      • Dot

        Let’s add something here: I’ve been following this guy since the Troma days and loved most of his stuff (Slither was amazing for example). But let’s face it, as a Director he certainly isn’t as “distinctive” (or “idiosyncratic” or whatever) as Wright.
        I mean that aside from a certain tone nothing really strikes me as Gunn-esque in his movies (which makes Marvel’s “more James Gunn” far less meaningful). So maybe it’s just easier for him to play along… the man wrote the script of Scooby doo remember.

      • MJ

        “the man wrote the script of Scooby doo remember”

        Phew, that’s not so bad then. Thank goodness that Gunn didn’t write crap like Hott Fuzz or Scott Pilgram versus the World, or that would have been really bad. Please remind us — who wrote those scripts?

        LOL

    • Person

      Part of me thinks that Marvel knew GOTG was such a gamble and would be so weird and out there, they just had a “go big or go home” mentality and hired someone they knew could bring something crazy to it. That’s pretty much what they did with each director who helmed an opening chapter in the MCU (Favreau, Branagh, Johnston), and each of those is arguably the best installment of their respective series.

      From what I’ve seen, Marvel and its higher-ups tend to start exercising more control during the sequels, which (aside from CA2 and IM3) have pretty much just been ok. Which is why it’s strange that they wouldn’t give an established director like Wright the freedom to do his own thing. And Wright apparently had Whedon’s support, who’s been godfathering everything to make sure it all ties up, so I’m still confused as to why that was the main script issue that apparently forced Wright out.

      In any case, this is just a stupid situation. Marvel will hire DJ Caruso or some young bland director with a few hits but little creativity to just get the project out on schedule and within the budget with minimal fuss.

      • milo

        “each of those is arguably the best installment of their respective series” Many would disagree with you in the case of Captain America. And honestly I’d say Thor 1 versus 2 is a tossup.

      • Person

        Yeah with me personally, Capt. 2 vs Capt. 1 is very close. But with Iron Man and Thor, I honestly don’t think any of the sequels are as good as the original, especially with Thor. And I’m someone who generally loves sequels more than originals, especially with superhero films.

      • Person

        Yeah with me personally, Capt. 2 vs Capt. 1 is very close. But with Iron Man and Thor, I honestly don’t think any of the sequels are as good as the original, especially with Thor. And I’m someone who generally loves sequels more than originals, especially with superhero films.

  • TigerFIST

    This shit is all still soooo disappointing! I THOUGHT KEVIN FEIGE ran the show over @ Marvel. I guess not! It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Why are you unhappy with his script now? Why didn’t they tell him that in 2006-2007, Or even 2009, 10, 11 etc…Am I crazy here? Don’t they realize people will go see the movie REGARDLESS?!?! Especially being released 2 months after possibly one of the BIGGEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME (age of Ultron). That and the BRAND of MARVEL will sell tickets alone. I just don’t understand. All his movies are awesome! What is going through their heads to make them think him and Joe Cornish Original script isn’t amazing. I’m dying to know the truth. I feel like the MCU is falling apart now.

    • http://www.GrinningGravestone.com TheDarkPilgrim

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I hate to say it’s the beginning of the end of Marvel Studios, but that’s how it feels like. Honestly, they should have trusted Edgar Wright to produce a quality product without bringing in two lower level writers to add “Marvel flair” or whatever they were told to do that screwed everything up.

      Exactly as you stated, it’s placement is coming off Age of Ultron so you know it will make bank either way. I was honestly hoping for a brief glimpse into the world Edgar had created after Guardians, but that was a fan boy wish that will never come true.

      If Marvel Studios doesn’t do something big to correct all of this fallout they better start looking for someone to replace Kevin Feige because I’d be hard pressed to believe he would stick around for this crap.

      • TigerFIST

        Right!

      • kw

        The beginning of the end? Because one director split? You are truly naive if you honestly believe that. Marvel/Disney is sitting on top of the world with no doom in any visible future. Wake up.

    • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

      “Why didn’t they tell him that in 2006-2007, Or even 2009, 10, 11 etc…Am I crazy here?”

      Because the Marvel Studios brand has grown extensively in power and profitability over the last 2 years. In 2006 they hadn’t even released Iron Man. Even as late as 2011 The Avengers was still viewed as a risky project. When Avengers became one of the highest grossing films in the history of all film, it changed the game at Marvel. Do you give all creative control to each new director that comes in or do you give some creative control to the forces which created one of the best reviewed and most profitable crowd pleasers of all time?

      “Don’t they realize people will go see the movie REGARDLESS?!?!”

      Sure but you still don’t want to either tarnish or water down the brand. If they thought Wright was taking it in a bad direction, long term lower quality films will ruin the brand. Likewise, if Wright was insisting on a tone which didn’t match the rest of the universe, it tarnishes the brand’s recognition. Without knowing more details it’s unwise to jump to conclusions.

  • The Exploiter

    He’d make a good publicist.

  • Stefan Bonomo

    It’s kind of weird that the studios would say they want Guardians of the Galaxy to be “more James Gunn” but supposedly re-wrote Ant-Man because it was “too Edgar Wright”.

    I just hope Marvel knows that now, because of this, almost all the questions directed at either Gunn or Feige during the press for Guardians will be about this. They can’t keep dancing around the question forever.

  • Yup

    Gunn!
    You did this!
    Marvel Execs let you do your thing with Guardian and after they were presented with your Space Pulp Final Cut, they panicked and attempted to pull in their other Property that was in the hands of another Artist ie…Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’.

    • Drake

      Nope. Doubt it. I heard that Marvel higher ups were calling the GoTG script the best one they’ve seen cross their desk. And judging from the trailers, it doesn’t look like Gunn’s execution of that script is lacking.

    • Mezmero

      Ok buddy LMMFAO! Like Gunn has ever been the one to get power hungry.

  • https://www.facebook.com/MyPassion4Life?ref=hl Javan Clark

    This is about Marvel protecting their properties. Since the Dardevil fiasco, and now Sony’s mishandling of the Spider Man franchise, it’s a necessary step for them to ensure the properties they own are treated the way they want them to be treated. So far, Feige and Co. have been knocking it out of the park with a few exceptions (I liked Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 personally). The movies, for the most part have improved with each iteration.

    Lastly, I’m in the Hank Pym is Ant Man camp, the Scott Lang is douchbag superhero should have come much later. The Avengers 2 movie shows signs that Marvel was willing to alter their plans to accomodate Wrights plans… it’s the whole reason Ultron is not a creation of Pym… because Hank Pym is a different guy in the MCU because of Wrights script.

    • eternalozzie

      I have been a big Hank Pym fan through all his hero personas and It’s fine with me they are integrating Pym and Lang together in the movie… it will make a good story. Excluding the creator of Ultron in the Age Of Ultron is what I dislike. Hank Pym designed and created Ultron and he is being introduced after Avengers 2, The Search For More Money … or is it The Quickening?

    • ethomson92

      Studio interference is what caused Sony to fuck up Spider-Man though (both times), which is why it’s both studios should understand that the franchise/universe will build itself slowly, organically. Take things one or two movies at a time.

      That’s worked for the MCU for the most part, and would continue to work.
      Keep films isolated with little nods to the expansion, and go “big” with the post-credits scene

      Right?

  • Alexander Calvo

    Why do people have to make Marvel into the villains here? I remember years ago when fans bemoaned the fact that marvel couldn’t control their properties, when these directors were the villains for not listening to the company who crated these characters. Marvel is the studio, they have every right to change a director if they don’t like how they are treating there characters. Ten years ago people would be cheering a director being pulled for not agreeing with Marvel’s vision, people just want to complain.

    • Diego Fernando Salazar Proaño

      I, for one, never said that LOL. I always have been somewhere in the middle: if you hire a director, and his vision is “too out there” for your taste, you fire him and bring in another one. Fine. But if you greenlit his vision, he shot the movie and NOW you say “WTF?” you should not have the right to stick you nose there (unless the guy is falling into self-indulgence). That is (approximately) the case here: I know Wright hasn’t shot a feet of film yet (with the exception of the Test footage) but the guy has been attached to write and direct the film for 8 years! He even, indirectly, helped shape the MCU as we know it! It’s not like Marvel (or Disney, I bet my money on Disney) can say “I didn’t know what he was going to do until now!” The problem is this: too much control, and the product will suffer. Too few of it, and the product will suffer.

    • Convoy

      I couldn’t agree more. All the people complaining have a love hones for Edgar Wright. I think his Ant Man would have been great, but there’s nothing wrong with Marvel, who we all wished had more creative control over their properties in the not too distant past, to say at this point it’s just not the right fit. I’m bummed but at the end of the day I’m glad Marvel has the creative control to say that a particular director’s vision doesn’t fit. And they’ve had enough successful movies and built a universe where they can do that.

  • Strong Enough

    Yeah but it took them 8 years to realize Edgar didn’t mesh with them? I guess its true no matter how high up you are we all have bosses even Feige who probably got his balls squeezed by Disney. What a shame. But the upside is him explaining this over and over again with his straight laced boy scout face on.

  • Nathaniel Haywood

    My real worry here is that Marvel is feeling pressure from Disney. Kevin Fiege has never seemed to have a problem working with the directors of Marvel movies before, so why would it suddenly be so bad that a director would abandon a project he has been working on for years? To me, it feels like pressure from on high – especially since the Scott Lang version of Ant Man is supposed to be a criminal, right? Did Disney not like the angle that Wright was using there? (Admittedly, Guardians of the Galaxy is full of thugs, assassins, and killers and Disney has no problem there, so that seems unlikely.) I just hope Marvel gets to keep doing its thing and doesn’t turn into every other homogenized studio.

    • Drake

      I wouldn’t say Fiege has never had problems working with directors of Marvel movies. What about Patty Jenkins on Thor 2? Even Alan Taylor seemed to have a ton of trouble in post production on that movie. And the final product, while not being unwatchable, was fairly made-by-committee.

    • Iron Man 3 Is a Mess

      Their products have thus far been extremely homogenized to fit within their now well established formula. Marvel Studios’ proclamation was that every phase would branch out. Bringing in distinctive talents like Edgar who’s at the top of the game as far as genre comedies are concerned was supposed to be all part of the well mapped out blueprint. This current fiasco just seems to spit in the face of all that talk.

      The onus really is on Marvel Studios to prove otherwise.

  • Lovecraftlives

    Let’s face it people, Ant-Man just didn’t seem like a project worth caring about or even feeling like it was a Marvel project. I don’t know, I just can’t seem to get too exited about all this news. Ant-Man and Wasp should have been in the first Avengers, but they weren’t. Now, just go ahead and try to make a film just about them. It could be cool, but I think just about any director could do it. Get someone else, and move on. Just make sure to connect it with the rest of the Marvel properties.

    • Alexander Calvo

      Believe it or not there are actually good movies that don’t feature giant muscles smashing things or explosions.

  • eternalozzie

    I’m sure the studio had them do the rewrite because something was weird in the script or they want it to fall more in line with the rest of their properties … Guardian looks a hot mess and they probably want to keep Ant Man closer to the feel of Avengers/Iron Man/Thor movies which is the movie family it is a part of.

  • scurvy

    What if the sticking point was Marvel didn’t want Hank Pym hitting his wife?

  • Angel of Death

    “Is Gunn just better at playing along with studio demands? Or has the top-down pressure from Disney to Marvel increased of late, only to land squarely on Wright’s shoulders?”

    No offense or anything Dave, and not to outright defend Marvel, but with statements like this, it sounds like you’re making the automatic assumption that the Latino Review article is right. And more times than I can count, the folks at Latino Review have gotten their rumors wrong before. (Part of me thinks that sometimes they just make stuff up to increase click traffic)

    I mean hell, another rumor (based on this Reddit blog: http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/26bo7k/edgar_wright_leaving_antman_movie/chpihlo) suggested that Edgar Wright got booted from ANT-MAN for being behind schedule and caused production to bleed money for a month before Marvel got fed up with him.

    The truth of the matter is, however, that no one knows how or why the issues went down. We can’t and shouldn’t really speculate about or believe reasons for the split without concrete evidence. At this point, for all we know, either of these rumors could be true or false. The only facts we have are that Marvel does have a reputation for making decisions that cause people to exit their projects (Terrance Howard, Jon Favreau, etc.). However, on the flip side, they’ve also allowed directors like Shane Black, James Gunn, and Joss Whedon to go crazy with their own ideas, visions, and styles.

    Therefore, any rumors at this point could be true, but I don’t think you should be writing articles under the assumption and viewpoint that one of them is the outright truth. It really just comes across as completely biased reporting.

    • JoeNiqua

      ‘We can’t and shouldn’t really speculate’ Hahaha. This is the internet, that’s what we do here.

  • YodaRocks

    Something’s not Wright, Marvel, and you need to fix it.

  • dodge hickey

    Gunn had the backing of Joss Whedon since GoTG was starting to be developed so I can see why the studio would give him backing.

    I still don’t know what to think of this, Wright let them rewrite the script and then left the project. I really want to know why they took his script and rewrote it especially when it got a dynamite cast and the backing of Kevin Fegie and Joss Whedon.

  • Grendal Sven

    9 out of 10 average moviegoers don’t know who Ant-Man is, I personally had to go Google him because I was unfamiliar with the character even though I knew the name. I’m sure Disney wants the film marketable to as many sheeple as humanly possible and did something awful to the script.

  • Mezmero

    Some people just can’t take bad news SMDH. Nobody knows anything yet and it will still be on track for next summer. Scott Pilgrim was a terrible movie and it will not effect me in anyway. People who don’t know him won’t care and idiots will say whatever to place blame but keep it real he spent to long on this anyway. He can find work on other projects and maybe they be as good as The Worlds End.

  • rhizomeman

    It’s not really that big a deal – Ant Man?? Really?? How many millions of Antman fans are upset now because there is a different director for a franchise of movies that sort of all look the same. Sorry to sound negative but, let’s be real.

    • MJ

      Exactly. It’s F’ing Ant Man. It’s like Daredevil…these are third tier properties at best in the big scheme of things.

    • HORSEFLESH

      It’s obviously a big deal to Disney/Marvel.

    • Norrtron

      People aren’t sad because it’s Ant Man, people are sad because it’s EDGAR WRIGHT! No one really cares too much for Ant Man, everyone was just excited to see what Edgar had in store for a super hero movie.

  • DEADP00L

    Antman gets a movie and I’m stuck in limbo. Antman… really? They ought to have gone for Blackbolt and the inhumans since those characters are actually interesting.

  • NotePad

    When I first heard Wright was making Ant Man i was very surprised. I find it hard to image him making a film that fits into the universe of the IM movies, the CA movies, etc and with the same tone.
    It would have been cool to see him contribute to that universe, but I’m not surprised he left because he just doesn’t seem like the filmmaker for that. The one Wright film i dislike was the Scott Pilgrim film. Based on that, he’s not the guy for Ant Man. I know it wouldn’t be in the same style as Scott Pilgrim or his other movies, but him and marvel not agreeing on the same vision is not a surprise at all. I’v been waiting to hear the news of him dropping out, unfortunately.

  • HG2012

    if you are a free independent thinker with a strong vision for your directing and screen writing abilities

    marvel is not the place for you

    • MJ

      Thank for the news flash, Einstein.

      Marvel has a team philosophy for their superhero movies, as well they should given its comics properties are largely a common universe and brand. DUH!

      Anyone who doesn’t understand this by now should seriously think about not further embarrassing themselves by posting on this topic in public.

  • Duncan Leishman

    It’s a shame Marvel own the IP to Ant-Man or else Wright and Cornish could have done a Joss Wheddon firefly/serenity dealio and took it to another studio. Hopefully they will work together on another project… hopefully starring Adam Buxton as a Jungle Reggae singer.

  • milo

    Classy response from Gunn and a really cynical take on it from Collider.

  • milo

    Classy response from Gunn and a really cynical take on it from Collider.

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