Marvel ended up skating on thin ice with its upcoming Ant-Man adaptation recently when script changes led long-time director Edgar Wright to depart the project, leaving the studio scrambling to find a replacement. As the days turned into weeks, directors came and went, including Adam McKay and Rawson Marshall Thurber, both of whom turned down the gig. Other contenders included Ruben Fleischer and Michael Dowse, but Marvel ended up going with Peyton Reed, a comedy director known for Yes Man and The Break-Up.
More than a few fans responded to the choice with pessimism, bemoaning Wright’s departure and criticizing Marvel for implementing the script changes that forced out the well-respected helmer. Then, news broke that multiple screenwriters, including McKay, Gabriel Ferrari and Andrew Barrer, had been brought on board to further rework the script. Needless to say, that particular news nugget didn’t do much to pacify fans.
Now, however, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige has vocalized his belief that Ant-Man “is in as good a shape as it’s ever been.” IGN spoke with the director at a Guardians of the Galaxy screening event, asking why Reed, once in contention for the Guardians gig, was the right choice for Ant-Man. Feige responded thusly:
“Number one – thank you for asking the question in that way, which is doing what we’re doing which is thinking about the movie and the end result of the movie. Peyton is someone that I’ve been a fan of for a long time. People may not remember, though probably your readers remember, that he was attached to Fantastic Four more than 10 years ago. We spent a lot of time together… and I got along with Peyton very, very well and he had awesome ideas and an awesome vision for the movie, and for various reasons he ended up leaving that movie…
“He’s come in to meet on a lot of our movies over the years, in particular Guardians. He had a lot of awesome things to say on Guardians. But James [Gunn] had a slightly more solid take that was of interest to us. But Peyton was always on our lists, and so when this happened and Edgar [Wright] said ‘Not for me’ we met with a handful of people, but Peyton was always one that I thought would be great.
“It was not a slam-dunk that he would just step into it and do it. He wanted to be sure that he was wasn’t just inheriting something or following someone else’s lead. Or wasn’t inheriting something that the evil studio had watered down to be something bad. I kept saying, ‘You can either read what’s online, or come in and talk to us and look at all this stuff.’ He looked at everything, he talked with us, and he said ‘Number one, I agree with the direction you’re going in. And number two, I can add to it.’ And he has – the movie is in as good a shape as it’s ever been right now.
“It’s still very much in the spirit of what Edgar’s original pitch was and the entire template of the movie is what Edgar set out and originally came and pitched us maybe eight years ago now. But it’s on its way to being the absolute best version of what that movie could have been.
“Peyton is really, really wonderful, and will be proving that soon enough. As I said to the Comic-Con audience a few years ago, ‘You might not have heard of [Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors] Joe and Antony Russo, but you’re going to be big fans of them soon.’ And I’d say the same thing about Peyton Reed now.”
It’s great that Feige feels so confident in Ant-Man despite all the behind-the-scenes furor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the film comes together – Marvel hasn’t let us down yet, after all (I’m not going to count Iron Man 2, which wasn’t spectacular but certainly wasn’t an out-and-out failure). And with a cast including Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Patrick Wilson, Michael Peña, Matt Gerald and David Dastmalchian, perhaps Feige has good reason to be so sure about Ant-Man‘s chances.
Ant-Man is still set to open on July 17th, 2015.