Over the weekend, Marvel Studios hired Peyton Reed to direct and oversee production on the troubled [Ant-Man](movie:9048). The hiring closes out director Edgar Wright’s stint with [Marvel](channel:932254) Entertainment, a relationship that started in 2006. While Wright will surely be missed, Reed’s part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an important hiring in the film franchise's history and here’s why.
While Peyton Reed is a talented director with movies like Bring It On, Down with Love, and Yes Man under his belt, he’s not an auteur like Edgar Wright. It’s not that Reed isn’t a competent journeyman director; he’s not a director that can be considered a visionary. I’m not saying his hiring is a bad thing at all. It’s actually very good for Marvel to have a director, it really doesn’t matter whom, working on Ant-Man just before production is scheduled to start at the beginning of July. It’s an important move because it shows that Marvel can get anyone to direct these movies and the movie studio will not miss a beat in production, quality, and, most importantly, generating box office revenue.
At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, super producer Kevin Feige built a collection of movies that pretty much look and feel all the same. It’s important to keep that consistency, while at the same time making sure one to two movies come out every year. A good producer can make a production run smoothly if they know what they’re doing and are organized, and have an attack plan. Marvel basically used the same attack plan again and again to make sure their movies come out on time and under budget. It seems that the movie studio is more concerned with finding directors that can achieve these goals, then ones that are creative visionaries like Edgar Wright, Patty Jenkins, Jon Favreau, and Kenneth Branagh.
While Marvel movies feel somewhat samey, they smartly fit into various movie genres to keep them fresh for general audiences. For example, Thor is based in fantasy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a spy thriller, and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy is a science fiction space opera. What we can tell from the hiring is that Ant-Man will be a comedy.
With Adam McKay also on board to re-write Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish’s screenplay, we should be getting some big laughs from the first movie in Phase Three. Marvel also released a new plot synopsis that works as a clue to Ant-Man's new direction. Read the synopsis below:
“Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.”
We also know that Ant-Man will be Scott Lang and not Dr. Hank Pym, as originally believed. Pym will still be in the movie, but not as its star. The Scott Lang origins story is well known amongst fan boys and girls, so the fact that Marvel isn’t going with the traditional origin story of the first Ant-Man is very interesting. Scott Lang is a bank robber who steals Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit to commit various crimes. While it seems like Lang is a criminal, he has the best intentions for causing harm, he’s stealing money to help his sick daughter. The movie will have plenty of action and heart with a reluctant hero like Scott Lang, but Ant-Man isn’t a traditional comedy, as say the movies Peyton Reed would direct.
Overall, Marvel movies are not director based with some exceptions like Joss Whedon and The Avengers and James Gunn and Guardians of the Galaxy. They are movies where the producer is the auteur, very much like the James Bond film series and EON Productions with Albert R. Broccoli and his family and the early Disney animated films with Walt Disney as the studio’s main creative driving force. Marvel has a plug-and-play system when it comes to directors and movies. They can virtually plug in any director to make a movie and it will still turn out good and very profitable. Kevin Feige has to be careful with the formula. They’re on the verge of reaching the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton era of movie-making, if I can continue to compare Marvel to James Bond. We might be reaching a tipping point and sooner or later, the formula will have to be re-invented for ever-changing tastes and modern audiences.