When discussing Marvel’s search for a new Ant-Man director, the phrase “scraping the bottom of the barrel” was beginning to feel dangerously appropriate.
Since Edgar Wright quit two weeks ago, there’s been a mad scramble to hire a replacement so the film can still be released in July 2015. First Adam McKay (Anchorman) dropped out of talks to direct the movie, then Dodgeball director Rawson Thurber turned it down as well.
Today, Marvel announced that Peyton Reed will take over as director, with Adam McKay “contributing to the film’s script.” Reed’s last feature film was the Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man back in 2008, although his most well-known work is probably the cult teen movie Bring It On.
This is good news for Marvel, who were clearly eager to hire someone as soon as humanly possible. But whether Reed and McKay will turn out an Edgar Wright-quality movie is anyone’s guess.
Over the past few weeks, Ant-Man has come to be perceived as something of a disaster zone. The Hollywood Reporter reported that several key members of the crew quit soon after Wright pulled out, as it became clear that production would not begin as scheduled. None of the cast have left the project, but cast member Michael Douglas said that he was “very disappointed” to see Wright go, giving the impression of taking Wright’s side in his conflict with Marvel Studios.
In the search for a new director, Marvel were looking for an established mainstream comedy director to take up where Wright left off. The trouble was, no one seemed overly keen to start work on a movie that someone else had been developing for years.
22 Jump Street and The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller might well have been in the running thanks to their experience with genre-savvy action comedy, but they made it clear at a recent press junket that they definitely did not want the job:
“It seems like a tough person’s shoes to step into, you know what I mean? It’s tough to have that as the specter hanging over, what would have been, and what could have been.”
When asked who they’d pick as a replacement director, Lord voiced an opinion shared by many fans:
“A logical choice would be Edgar Wright… to finish an Edgar Wright film. I mean, [Ant-Man co-writer] Joe Cornish, that would make a lot of sense. Or if they, like, decided to abandon ship and try again years from now it would make more sense.”
Now that Marvel have officially hired Peyton Reed, they will be under a lot of pressure to serve up an Ant-Man movie that measures up to previous Avengers franchise success stories. After all, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were certainly not alone in suggesting that this project might have been better off being scrapped altogether.
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