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Are Disney suits polishing the brass on their own personal Superhero Titanic?

Yesterday, news broke regarding Edgar Wright’s departure from Ant-Man, the Phase Three Marvel MCU picture he had been developing with the studio for the last eight years. Details we sketchy regarding his exit, but with the film this close to shooting, speculation ran rampant around the Internet (as it tends to do). Today, Latino Review has dropped one of their patented “inside scoops” regarding the Wright disaster while almost simultaneously breaking the news that Cabin In the Woods director Drew Goddard has left the Daredevil series Marvel was developing with Netflix. The reports on both are troubling, to say the least, as it reads like Disney and Marvel suits are meddling in the creative galley, to the point that their talent are jumping ship left and right.

According to LR, dreaded studio “script notes” became the main reason for the divorce between Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish (with whom Wright co-authored the Ant-Man script) and Marvel. The report reads as such:

“About 3 months ago, Marvel had notes. The meat of the notes were about the core morality of the piece, must include franchise characters. etc., These notes came from the big four at Marvel. Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright did two drafts to try and answer the notes without compromising their vision.

6 weeks ago Marvel took the script off them and gave the writing assignment to two very low credit writers. One of the writers were from Marvel’s in house writing team [whom Devin Faraci over at BAD has identified as Eric Pearson, author of the Marvel One Shots]. Edgar stayed cool, agreed to stay on the project, and read the draft.

The script came in this week and was completely undone. Poorer, homogenized, and not Edgar’s vision. Edgar met with Marvel on Friday to formally exit and the announcement went out directly after.

Edgar & Joe were upset by the sudden, out of nowhere lack of faith in them as filmmakers. Fiege had always batted for them but this felt like it came from the higher ups.”

The bits about “core morality” and “including franchise characters” are the most distressing, as it points again to the “boardroom authoring” method of assembly Marvel and Disney have adopted when approaching their cash-cow MCU franchise. Filmmakers aren’t encouraged to make pieces of cinema that THEY want to make, but are instead instructed to stick to a formula (which includes a set “house style” visual template that is easy for any student of film to identify). The “inclusion of franchise characters” note again points to the fact that Marvel views these movies as nothing more than products, to be consumed while they simultaneously tease the next bit of glossy nonsense they want their fans to shell out their hard-earned money for.

In a moment of solidarity for his fellow artist, Joss Whedon threw this picture up on Twitter earlier today:

For those unaware (and if you are, may I suggest watching more movies please?), that ice cream cone he’s brandishing like a Black Panther Fist in the air is of the Cornetto brand, a distinct reference to Wright’s “Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy” starring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.

Hot on the heels of this weirdly inspiring moment of supportive harmony was the LR announcement that Drew Goddard was leaving the Daredevil series he was set to oversee for Marvel/Netflix. Details are still sketchy regarding this second Memorial Day weekend exit, as reps for Goddard couldn’t be reached due to the holiday (though some outlets seem to think that Goddard is leaving to take on a Sinister Six picture at Sony).

As usual, there are a TON of theories flying around regarding why Disney would be meddling with this decade’s most unique tentpole franchise. One of my favorites comes from Devin Faraci, who in his own afore-linked article said:

“Why would the studio fuck with the division that’s making money and having a huge cultural impact right when they’re at their best? Because of dumb egos. Hollywood is dumb, run by dumb, venal people, and the executives who aren’t creative resent the people who are, and want to get their stink on the movies. And you have to understand that Disney doesn’t care about the movies – they want the Marvel IP so they can sell diapers and shirts and bedsheets. The movies are just commercials for the IP.”

To bounce off of that bleak bit of consumerist theory, I would add: it’s because the studios think that you, the fans, are stupid, willing to buy whatever they’re selling. And maybe they have good reason to. While the artists have gone out of their way to post pictures of support for one another, my entire Twitter feed (not to mention the comments sections on both LR articles) is filled with Marvel fans saying how Ant-Man “will be fine without Wright” and how they “enjoy the house style” as opposed to a distinct, artistic take on an established property. REALLY? This mindset shows that you value a corporation’s product instead of genuine pieces of self-expression, crafted with personality and an attention to the actual craft of filmmaking. It’s the most baffling, brainwashed mentality I’ve ever seen in my life.

Fans of comic book films aren’t dumb, are they? We don’t want every movie to turn out like Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man films, do we? Please tell me that these folks (who I’ve been systematically unfollowing as soon as they drop these boondoggling opinions) are in the distinct minority by sounding off in the comments with your own take on these tragic creative developments. I want to believe that fans of comic book filmmaking still value art and cinema as much as they do seeing their favorite characters on screen. Because without it, we are simply relegated to being mindless customers, greedily devouring whatever nonsense the fat cats deem fit for our tasteless enjoyment. I don’t want my local mega-plex to become a WalMart full of cheap, artless plasticity and, in my heart of hearts, know that you don’t either.

**UPDATE:**: Coming from Deadline — it seems that Goddard pulled out of the Daredevil series back in March, to indeed focus on a Sinister Six film for Sony and is being replaced by Spartacus creator/executive producer Steven S. DeKnight. Goddard did write the first two episodes of Daredevil and will remain as an “executive producer” but DeKnight will be the show’s primary runner.

Category: Comics, Film

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