Rawson Marshall Thurber passes on chance to direct Ant-Man

News Simon Brew 4 Jun 2014 - 06:42

Another director turns down the chance to direct Marvel's Ant-Man movie, as Dodgeball's Rawson Marshall Thurber says no...

The problems continue to mount for Marvel where its planned movie of Ant-Man is concerned. Since Edgar Wright quit the project a week or two back - after developing and shaping it for the best part of a decade - Marvel Studios has been in a race against time to find a new helmer for the movie. With physical production set to start soon in order to hit a July 2015 release date, there's an urgent need to find a director who has the availability to step on board the project, and who's also willing to work with the mix of material already in place.

At the start of the week, we learned that Anchorman director Adam McKay had passed on the chance to direct Ant-Man. Then we learned that another name on the shortlist of three possible replacements, Ruben Fleischer, was also potentially being targeted by Sony for Ghostbusters 3.

Now, it seems as though the third director on the shortlist that came to light a week or so ago has also turned the job down. Dodgeball and We're The Millers helmer Rawson Marshall Thurber has passed on the opportunity to direct Ant-Man, having reportedly been offered the job.

Where this leaves Marvel now is unclear, as finding a director willing and able to take on another's passion project so late in the day is proving hugely difficult. Might that July 17th 2015 release date have to be delayed? If a new director isn't found imminently, then Marvel may not have a choice...


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I cannot see how Ant -Man will not be delayed. They should have stuck with Wright, worked on the script together and announced a delay in the first place!

Aw, man. :( That could have made for an awesome combination. :/ Now I'm really starting to get a bit uneasy for this movie if Marvel ain't budging with their release date...

Well, I guess Wright has to come back now. Right?


It is getting SO close to shoot start I'm not sure how any director could be prepared for such a production, especially with apparently such complicated action scenes. This is probably why they're all turning it down. Who would want to be on the first Marvel Studios film to fail? There's really only one way to save this, and that's for Marvel to swallow their pride and try and meet Wright somewhere back in the middle. I can't see that happening mind...

Bearing in mind how big a mess this is becoming, it seems that Marvel had no contingency plans whatsoever.

Seems very unlikely that the departure of Wright was "mutual" as initially suggested. Probably just a case of the studio naively believing that they could pressurise him as much as possible due to his long association with the film. They bluffed, he walked away..

Unless that release date changes, this is doomed.

...or a director naively believing they have absolute creative control over a movie that needs to fit into a larger gameplan.

I'm really starting to think that there is an young exec at Marvel who only got the job cos they are someones nephew who threw out the script Edgar Wright was working with had all his ideas pumped into the redone script and it's just really really bad. It's either that or all the directors they have asked are standing behind Edgar Wright. I would do it if they asked :P

That may be true - but he seemed to wise up and realise that it wasn't going to happen his way, so he didn't want to be part of it.

It's unlikely that he was kicked out forcefully. And if he was, then it showcases amazingly poor foresight from Marvel who, despite their claims, clearly did not have a replacement waiting in the wings.

Their first move should have been to push back the, frankly terrifying, July 2015 release date.

Either they stifled someone creatively to the point he *had* to walk away...or they sacked someone without having a replacement lined up. Either is poor form.

I tend to disagree. We both don't know what went down between the two parties, and neither story has led credit to the idea that one of them forced something on the other.

I also don't agree on the poor forsight idea. These problems seemed to have either turned up just now or weren't that problematic before. So I wouldn't blame Marvel for not immediately having a replacement ready. Quite to the contrary, it shows that they had enough faith in Wright to carry the movie to its conclusion.

I would rather wait crying foul and placing blame before we know more of what happened.

We do know that Marvel ordered an extensive rewrite of a script that Wright had himself co-written.

I'm trying to lend Marvel some credibility by suggesting that this was more Wright's decision than theirs.

The alternative is that this was a snap decision by Marvel - explaining the lack of a replacement director. Frankly, considering the release date, that seems unthinkable from such a large company.

I hope you're not serious. They have two showrunners for their MCU - Feige and Whedon. I'm certain they'd have put a stop to ANYTHING even remotely like this.

Maybe Wright was a part of the problem? This being his dream project
and all, maybe he wanted it to be too perfect? There is enough history
of these kind of "dream projects" failing. I think "Entourage" gave a
very good example why often the passion projects don't work despite
talented people and everyones good intentions. (Side note: everyone
should watch first 4-5 seasons of Entourage to see how Hollywood works.)

Marvel wouldn't have let Wright go without serious reasons.
The suits wouldn't risk 150+ million project and their jobs without
absolute necessity. They must have thought that sticking with Wright was
far riskier than letting him go. It doesn't mean that the suits don't
make stupid decisions, but Kevin Feige (who seems to have final say) has
proved to be pretty smart about these kind of things.

The bottom line is: we just don't know enough to say anything about the
situation. Maybe it was a case of the suits being stupid or maybe it was
Wright's fault. We just don't know.

Ohh and Wright definetley didn't "walk away". I'm sure Marvel had a strict contract with Wright so he couldn't "just walk away" without serious penalties. Marvel wanted him out.

At this late stage, I'm starting to think the obvious candidate should be Louis D'Esposito. He's a co-president at Marvel so the would have been in on some of the decision making around Ant-Man (presumably), he's produced or co-produced a number of the MCU movies so far and, whilst not a recognised feature-length director, he has taken the helm on the a couple of the Marvel One-Shots. If everyone else is passing because they don't want to accept the Marvel road-map for the movie, then perhaps turning to a true-blood Marvel guy is the best option.

No, you're right, and we'll probably never know the full truth. Oh well, there will be plenty of more superhero movies over the next few years, and not all of them can be The Dark Knight or Iron Man, some will just have to settle for The Green Lantern.

It's the only way to save this project.
No director in their right mind, or at least no director with real talent, would dare step in to Wright's shoes so late in the game. It's not like this is a throwaway action film that a director can just 'wing'. Wright puts so much into every single shot, every beat, that it would be impossible to remove his influence. And a grave mistake to try to copy him.
Cancel it. Take the hit.
Or bring Wright back. Not gonna happen.

Oh dear... that last bit makes me very sad.

The only person who got close to saving a project in this kind of state was Fincher with Alien 3 (Which I still feel as a rescue project that film was incredible)

Oh come on. That's a bit much doom and gloom, no? Just because Wright isn't attached to Ant-Man anymore doesn't make it immediatly Green Lanter 2 - Lantern Boogaloo.

I can see why directors are passing, it's a hell of a job to take on, especially after Wright's 8 years of work. I doubt we'll know the precise details of what happened, but I wouldn't be surprised if Wright wanted to go in a direction that didn't fit with the rest of the MCU, causing Feige to order a re-write to try and make it fit in a bit more. Cue Wright walking after refusing to go along with it.

I absolutely love Wright as a director, but if he was going in a direction Feige wasn't comfortable with, Feige had every right to ask for changes, seeing as it's mainly him who's built the MCU.

Good call. Alien 3 is a very capable film considering.

Unfortunately in this instance, and not taking anything away from Fincher, sci-fi/horror with an established character/device is perhaps an easier genre to tackle at late notice than a comicbook comedy.

Comicbooks generate a fandom like no other genre. They're very difficult to mediate against the expectations of the audience.

And comedy is so subjective that... well.
If they can get him, I think Mike Judge is a good choice to handle the mix and maybe be remotely tempted by the opportunity.

That's true. I'm sure it will be as good as The Incredible Hulk.

It's TOOOO LAAAATE ta pologiiiiiize, TOOOO LAAAAAAAAATE!!!!!!!

Other than gotg which is cosmic and feels far removed (for now), all we've gotten is the 3 bankable avengers in solos and the others and Fury here and there. It would suck big time if they replace Antman with another sequel. I'm glad Avengers 2 will introduce more people, but man it's that solo spot I'm worried about.

I think the obvious answer is to scrap the Ant Man movie all together.

If I'm honest I'm just speculating. There are two reasons out there why Edgar Wright left the project.

The one where they threw out his script and had a re-write done which by all accounts was nothing like the version he and Joe Cornish wrote coupled with increasing notes from the studio on what they wanted the film to be like was what caused him to walk or that they had already fallen behind on there already tight schedule (which is only getting tighter as they still haven't gotten a Director on board) and were making demands that compromised Edgar Wrights way of working, he's known to shoot everything himself which is really not done in big budget movies.

The latter reason in my opinion would be cause for both Feige and Whedon to stand by Wright's vision of the project and looking at the schedule of releases on the slate for Marvel, moving the release date back a few months wouldn't be all that much of an issue. (even thou marketing departments seem to think it does) The other reason they might have an issue with moving the release date is they will most likely bow to pressure and move the date for Captain America 3 and don't want to look like there is that much issue by moving two release dates on their slate.

Which is what makes me think it's the former. While Feige and Whedon maybe showrunners for the MCU they aren't in control of the money and in Hollywood if you want to carry on working you do as the money tells you.

I... have trouble following you, if I'm being blunt. But that's okay. We'll find out soon enough, I bet.

Fair play, I tend to waffle :P

Hopefully Marvel will grovel back to Wright with a "let's try it your way; didn't hurt too much when we let other director's get their visions off the ground with our heroes" vibe.

You got best comment. Maybe that means you're right.

But I still wanna see Antman!

I don't know what happened with Disney/Marvel and Edgar Wright, but I do know what it is like to get done over by people you trusted professionally. No-one, absolutely no-one, voluntarily walks away from a passion project they have invested much of themselves in, unless doing so is the only punch they have left to throw.
The more time goes by, the more impressed I am with the balls Wright has shown by walking, whatever went down behind closed doors. I doubt he threw a 'prima donna director's fit' or anything, because if he was that kind of guy, Whedon and Gunn wouldn't have been so overt in their support of him. I also doubt very much that all of a sudden Marvel decided his vision for the film was out of synch with anything else they are doing, because since The Avengers came out Whedon has been the self-confessed "Tom Hagen of The Marvel Universe", and in 2013 he said "(Edgar Wright is) gonna kill it. ..He's gonna kill it!!" when talking at Comic Con about Ant-Man at a solo panel.
Truth is, whatever happened, Wright has well and truly won. Ok, he doesn't get to make the movie, but that experience had already been soured for him before filming began. In the space of two weeks, Marvel/Disney are suddenly the bad guys, and other directors are body-swerving them. Wright couldn't have done more damage with a box of matches and a can of petrol.
Bet you Whedon 'steps back' from directing for them after Ultron. Be interesting to see if Gunn does anything outside GoTG, but regardless, the Marvel honeymoon looks increasingly like it is ending, and the unwelcome suspicion that all we're going to get after the next few films will be homogenised, journeyman-created cookie-cutter product, is slowly starting to sneak in.
Hey, maybe all their films will rock as hard as Winter Soldier did, who knows? Doesn't matter though- the fact is, people aren't as chirpy about the MCU as they were two weeks ago.

was Joe Cornish not intrinsically part of the creative process? If so why not him, may be more open to the bigger picture that Wright presumably was while still having an innate knowledge of the script

This is like a game of Hot Potato

Can't really blame the guy for passing when he received an inordinate amount of insults from bloggers and commenters when his name was included on the shortlist. I think, considering he has other options and the script is reportedly in a mess apart from the action scenes that Wright pre-visualised, he must have thought 'life's too short for all this hassle.'

Joe Cornish is a close personal friend of Wright. Obviously he is standing in solidarity with his pal and would not want to hurt his feelings. Also, he co-wrote the script that was abandoned, so why would he want to direct something that bears no resemblance to the film he signed up to work on in the first place?

I take your point: it does seem like a bad situation, but is the best solution for Marvel to just walk away? A few weeks out from principle photography, you've got to think that they have spent a lot of time and money on this project already. If they scrap it, that effort is for nothing. Sure, if it turns out that EW walked away because the script re-writes have turned this into a guaranteed pile of garbage, then yeh of course they should bin it. But, if it is just a that EW and Marvel couldn't agree on tone/style/content, then I think Marvel should have the courage of their convictions and give us the A-M movie that they are convinced is great and works within the MCU.
Plus, and I know this might get me yelled at, but I've got some level of faith in Kevin Feige and Marvel. Some of Edgar Wright's movies are amazing, but if I had to gamble $150m on someone to get a great product out, that will be seen by as many people as possible, I'd back Marvel over Edgar Wright all day long.

Good. Marvel have seriously let us down with this one. With great power comes bullishness and too many exec suit notes is the new Spidey mantra!

So after 8 hugely successful movies, one director leaves one of the three (four? five?) movies in development and it's all over?

Um, that's not quite what I meant, or said...
Of course the Marvel films will keep coming, and long may they do so! What I meant was that until this Ant-Man thing, Marvel has looked and sounded like a really cool, supportive and creative place to work. Now it looks less so, and that can't be a good thing on any level if it is now perceived as a difficult or uncomfortable place for people to try to make the kind of films we want to see. It's sad to see Marvel suddenly become somewhere less appealing to filmmakers. I'd much rather see the most creative, interesting Marvel films we possibly can, instead of box-ticking bob-a-job versions.

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