Following the dissolution of the relationship between Marvel Studios and former Ant-Man director Edgar Wright, Marvel found itself at the receiving end of a lot of ire. Even Joss Whedon, Avengers director and a current major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, voiced his dissent. Now, finally, Marvel head Kevin Feige is talking about the Ant-Man debacle — and he'd like us all to know it does not mean the complete creative bankruptcy of Marvel Studios that many assume it does.
Feige's comments come during the press tour for Guardians of the Galaxy, and more specifically in a recent interview with The Guardian. And he's got some pretty strong feelings about all of this. In fact, he seems a little hurt.
The biggest disappointment for me is just the relationship, because I like Edgar very, very much and we were very close for many many years. But the perception that the big evil studio was too scared at the outside-the-box creative vision is just not the case.
Goddamn, Kevin Feige, you're bumming me out. So what exactly went down to ruin this beautiful friendship? Here's Feige's side of the story:
We sat round a table and we realised it was not working. A part of me wishes we could have figured that out in the eight years we were working on it. But better for us and for Edgar that we figure it out then, and not move it through production. We said let's do this together and put out a statement. What do we say? 'Creative differences'. I said: 'That's what they always say and no-one ever believes it.' Edgar said: 'But in this case it's true …'
[...]The Marvel movies are very collaborative, and I think they are more collaborative than what he had been used to. And I totally respect that.
Of course, we still haven't had one of these interviews with Wright, and considering Feige still speaks for the giant corporation part of things, there is an element to this that must be taken with a grain of salt. But despite its status as one of Hollywood's preeminent blockbuster providers, Marvel actually has long had a reputation of allowing directoral creativity to play a big part in their process. When Whedon was first considering The Avengers, for example, he completely scrapped Marvel's first draft of the project and went about it his own Whedony way. It's a decision that paid off pretty well for Marvel; The Avengers became the third-highest grossing film of all time.
Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson brings up some valuable questions about what made Wright's experience with Marvel so different from Whedon's, especially given the sheer amount of time (roughly eight years) Wright and Marvel put into their collaboration:
Is Whedon’s experience just from an earlier, more creativity-friendly time in the Marvel movie franchise? When the artistic vision of someone who didn’t have a single blockbuster film to their name was valued and encouraged? Or have the reports of Marvel’s controlling ways been overstated? I think it’s safe to say that the upcoming movie with the wisecracking raccoon and the monosyllabic tree will give us a better indication of just how much creativity we can expect from Marvel in the future.
And indeed, Feige is still standing behind the creative integrity of Marvel's practices.
The notion that Marvel was scared, the vision was too good, too far out for Marvel is not true. And I don't want to talk too much about that because I think our movies speak to that. Go look at Iron Man 3; go look at The Winter Soldier; go see Guardians of the Galaxy later this month. It would have to be really out there to be too out there for us.
He's right in a big way: There is a reason that Marvel movies not only routinely gross all the money but also routinely win critical favor. When Wright split with Marvel there was talk that maybe Marvel had gotten too big for its britches — too preoccupied with formula. Short of Wright telling us his side of the story, there seem to be two events on the horizon that will help Marvel — and those watching it closely — map out what its path is going forward. That would be the fast-approaching Comic-Con, where the company's biggest announcements often take place, and the wide release of space romp Guardians of the Galaxy. It certainly gives both Marvel fans and critics something to look forward to come August 1.
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