Since the release of Guardians of the Galaxy a few weeks ago, Marvel Studios proved that they are unstoppable, as the comic book movie studio continues to churn out hit after hit. The future looks bright for Marvel with the upcoming release of [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035), the sequel to the third highest grossing movie of all-time. The sequel film marks the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two, while later in 2015 we'll see the start of Phase Three with Ant-Man.
Ant-Man was one of the first movies announced from the then-newly formed Marvel movie studio back in 2006, along with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury, and The Avengers. While it's unlikely that we'll see a Nick Fury movie anytime soon, director Edgar Wright was attached to the Ant-Man project since the beginning. Wright enlisted longtime collaborator Joe Cornish to help him bring the superhero to the big screen. With [Ant-Man](movie:9048) set for July 2015, problems began to arise only a few weeks before the film was set to go into production.
Edgar Wright left the project, while Marvel scrambled to find a new director to replace him. Many names were being tossed around as possible directors for Ant-Man, including Adam McKay (Step Brothers) and Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors), but ultimately the job went to Peyton Reed, a competent and working director in Hollywood. While Reed made some hilarious movies in the past, namely Bring It On in the year 2000, he is, by no means, a visionary auteur like Edgar Wright, who is truly one of the best comedy directors working today because of his great sense of structure and visual comedy and sight gags. For better or worse, Marvel will live and die with Ant-Man in the capable hands of Peyton Reed. However, will Edgar Wright's exit bite Marvel in the ass later down the line?
One of the reasons why people are so taken with a movie like [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) is its personality. You can clearly tell that it's a James Gunn movie rather than a generic Marvel one, although it fits perfectly in the comic book movie studio's template and structure. Take another movie like Iron Man and The Avengers, other Marvel movies that people seem to praise because of its style and personality, in this case Jon Favreau and Joss Whedon's. You can say these three movies are probably the most fun and exciting movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because of the directors who are driving them. Generally, movies like Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk are almost forgettable because they do fall into that boring, superhero prototype milieu. It's not that the Thor sequel and the Hulk reboot were terrible movies, it's just that they're not as fun and exciting, and therefore memorable.
Make no mistake about it, directors matter, even though all of the Marvel movies have the same uniform from they're producer Kevin Feige. Now back to Ant-Man. While it's unclear why Edgar Wright and Marvel/Disney parted ways, the reality is that Peyton Reed is not at the same level of filmmaker as someone like Edgar Wright. You can also say the same thing about the character of Ant-Man, who is mostly obscure in the minds of general audiences. Delivering a movie that has personality, vision, and a clear direction will greatly benefit Ant-Man and it's unclear if Peyton Reed will make a movie with those attributes.
Guardians of the Galaxy proved that Marvel can just about sell anything to general audiences, but if the cosmic superhero movie wasn't good, exciting, fun, and memorable, then I'd be hard-pressed to see the movie gross more than $300 million worldwide in just over two weeks. With the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming success of The Avengers: Age of Ultron (Let's face it! there's no way getting around it, the sequel to The Avengers will be a big stinkin' hit), it looks more and more that Ant-Man might be Marvel Studios's first dud. I'm sure the movie will make millions, but it's tough to see if audiences and critics will take to Ant-Man as they did with Guardians of the Galaxy.
While Edgar Wright isn't a box office draw himself, his caliber of director would've joined the likes of Joss Whedon, James Gunn, and Jon Favreau when it comes to making fun superhero movies. It's apparent that Marvel movies are really director-driven, but the ones with very skilled directors behind the camera always shine brighter than the ones that don't. Ant-Man might be a fine movie when it's released on July 17, 2015, but it's hard to see if the movie doesn't have a great sense of humor and personality.