As the dust settles from the great Ant-Man scandal of ’14, there’s still odd bits of news coming in as to why director Edgar Wright left in the first place. It’s more or less canonical that Wright walked away after Marvel tried to hand him a script a script that was more user friendly for Marvel’s shared universe idea, but one source says there’s more to it than that. In an effort to beef up their coffers, he says, Disney was pushing for some degree of product placement in Ant-Man. That, combined with the script issues, made Wright run for the door.
The source referred to here is Brendon, formerly of WWTDD fame. In an e-mail he sent to Vince Mancini of Uproxx he laid out a semi-alternative theory. Apparently, Wright, already nervous about external tampering with the movie he had worked for so long to make, was also dubious about talk concerning implanted commercials in his superhero movie.
hey, dude, so, i was talking to a guy i know at marvel, and even though that’s a fascinating story all by itself it’s not why I’m writing it down. ant-man came up, and edgar wright, and the real reason he walked away, and it annoyed me so now I’m gonna complain about it. the latino review post about this last week was excellent but there were a couple additional details. they said marvel had notes about the script and it was given to a couple of in-house writers to revise at the last minute. that part is true but it wasn’t tone or peripheral characters or anything like that. it was… product placement.
Product placement has become a tried and true method for movies and TV shows to pocket some extra scratch, but depending on how you do it, it can either by subtle (like the ubiquitous Coke cans on American Idol), or annoying (like the episode of Smallville built around bubblegum and OneRepublic). Of course, Marvel is a brand in and of itself, so what was Marvel thinking going all capitalist? Or was it Marvel? Brendon continues.
thats right. ads. they were finding little spots to work in ads. because disney is in charge of all this and disney is f*cking awful. it’s not marvel, they hate this too, but disney doesn’t give a shit, they don’t care who directs the movie, they only care about finding enough 5-year-old midgets to run around the park in ant-man costumes and who to bribe after they die. this is purely about money. ant-man is as small of a movie as marvel can make (i swear to christ you better not make an ‘ant’ pun); it’s an obscure character with a weird power, it’s not gonna make a billion dollars. they think it’ll top out around 400 million. that would still be about 150 million in pure profit but that’s not enough for disney so they’re working in ads. and they are not subtle.
edgar wright is not some doe-eyed ingenue, he’s a professional, he understands how these things work and he knew this was coming; all he asked for is control, which seems reasonable since he’s the one who is gonna look like an asshole when paul rudd stops in the middle of the movie to talk about cheerios for 10 minutes.
wright lost control, so he walked. he simply doesn’t trust them, which is understandable considering how badly they f*cked up ‘john carter’ and ‘lone ranger’. they’re inept beyond belief. i bet if harvey weinstein had a movie to sell, and you gave him the choice between the marketing team at disney or joseph goebbels, even he would choose goebbels 100 times out of 100. and he’d be right. that dude packed theaters with nothing but war movies DURING the f*cking war. disney couldn’t even get people to go see johnny depp as a funny indian. [Brendon via email]
Well, I think the problems with The Lone Ranger went beyond Depp and Disney, but I think Disney’s managerial skills are fair game for debate. If Brendon’s figures are to be believed, even if they are just estimates, how much money is enough for the Magic Kingdom? The Goebbels reference is a little strong, comparing anything but Nazis to other Nazis always undermines people’s arguments in my mind, but let’s ask a simple question: is any of this going to stop any of us from being there to see Ant-Man opening weekend? I thought not.