EDITORIAL: How To Salvage Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN

After Edgar Wright's shocking departure from Marvel Studios' Ant-Man, many have been left wondering what Marvel will do with the project going forward. Here are few suggestions on what Marvel can do to salvage this film in a way that will allow it to meet it's 2015 release window, as well as chart a new path for the Ant-Man franchise.

Editorial Opinion

1. Hire a Journeyman Director

Now this one is  gonna happen regardless, given their current predicament, but it needs to be handled with care. Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios definitely need to dip into Hollywood's journeymen director pool, but make sure who they pull out someone who is fit for the daunting task ahead. There are many choose from such as mult-time Disney collaborator Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure; National Tresure: Book of Secrets), or Tim Story (well known among fans for helming FOX's Fantastic Four, and its sequel, 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer).  I suggest none other than Joe Johnston.

As most of us know, Johnston directed Marvel Studios' fifth feature outing 'Captain America: The First Avenger'. He (perhaps for better, rather than worse) didn't return for its hit sequel, 'The Winter Soldier', but I believe his versatility as a director and his  experience with genre films of this sort  (as well as Marvel Studios' themselves) could very much be put good to use here. His previous Marvel Studios' outing helped made a global favorite out of the Captain America character, whom  many were not sure how to bring to film. So perhaps, he could do the same for Ant-Man.

2. Delay the film until November 2015

Given the everything that has been rumored (and is known) to be wrong behind the scenes (Unfinished script, creative differences, etc.) it seems that it would be in Marvel's VERY best interest to delay this film, pushing it back 4 months to its original release date of November 6th, 2015. Not only would this allow the new director time to settle and begin work on the project with a slightly longer prep period, but to ensure that they have time (should they so desire) plot a new direction for the story. 

And this leads us to my next suggestion.........

3. Rewrite the film

It is widely known that Edgar Wright intended for the film to be an adaptation of one of the character's most notable stories "To Steal An Ant-Man", with an older Hank Pym (set to be played by Academy Award Winner Michael Douglas) passing the Ant-Man mantle to Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd). From day one (predating the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe), this was the vision Wright, Co-writer Joe Cornish, and Marvel had laid out.

Due to this specific vision on the part of Edgar Wright, Marvel Studios was left to accept a much different fate for its original comics Ant-Man, Hank Pym. Particularly, his place as a founding Avenger dropped, (likely) his relationship with The Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, dropped; and most notably, his role as the creator of The Avengers villain, Ultron, dropped.

Now this direction for the Ant-Man films was a controversial one. Many fans were okay with it (especially given the talent that would eventually board the project). Now it would seem that, out of loyalty to the project given by Edgar Wright, Marvel and co. would forge ahead with this idea, with him at the helm. But obviously..... Edgar Wright is now gone.

Given that, Marvel has two options:

  1. Polish the script with the new director at the helm (ensuring its quality before cameras roll) but continue onwards with Wright's "Old Pym"  plan.

        2.  Rewrite the film with new ideas more in line with the original comics canon.

Personally, I think they should go the latter route.  No disrespect to Edgar Wright and his original vision, but it seems clear that (ultimately) what he envisioned for the project ( a "self contained" Ant-Man story w/ an alterative take on Hank Pym) didn't meld with what Marvel wanted, or perhaps, needed. 

4. Have Hank Pym as the creator of Ultron, and have 'Ant-Man' deal with the aftermath of 'Avengers 2'

Now as previously stated, one of the apparently problems with this project was that it was too self contained. In my opinion, its important that they put in place this notable "accomplishment" in Hank Pym's history as it would open up broader possibilities for Ant-Man's (Scott Lang's AND Hank Pym's) involvement in the MCU as a whole

Now, this is tricky, as 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' has already begun production, and has been written with someone (likely Tony Stark), or some entity, likely in place of Pym as the creator of Ultron. However, if AT ALL possible, I think they should try and restore this important part of Hank Pym's history, regardless of if he can't participate in the 'Age of Ultron" film. And in turn to this, rewrite "Ant-Man" to show Hank Pym emotionally dealing with what his actions caused and what it now means for him as a character, as it did in the comics.

That said......

5. Have Patrick Wilson play a modern day Hank Pym, and Michael Douglas play Vernon Van Dyne

As previosuly stated, Michael Douglas has signed on to this film to play an older version of Ant-Man, Hank Pym, who passes the Ant-Man mantle on to Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd). Now, also signed to this film is actor Patrick Wilson, in an undisclosed role. It has been HIGHLY rumored that Wilson would in fact play a Young Hank Pym in flashbacks to the 1960s and 70s, when Hank Pym was active as the insect themed hero. This, compounded by the fact that he has been a longtime fan-favorite for the role. Also, it has been reported that that Hank Pym will now be the father of "The Wasp", Janet Van Dyne (said to be played by Evangeline Lily, whom has been cast in an undisclosed role), as rather than her husband. 

Validity of these rumors or not, I suggest rewriting the film to have Patrick Wilson now play the modern day Hank Pym, albeit younger. Effectively, dropping the 1960s subplot. And in regards to Michael Douglas, repurpose his role to that of Vernon Van Dyne, the scientist father of Janet Van Dyne and colleague to Hank Pym, who can resume his original role has husband/lover to Janet.

Of course, this would allow them to restructure the film to have a more traditional plot, but also retain its lead actors, whom have already been locked in to roles.

And lastly.........

6. Stick with the "To Steal An Ant-Man" story

Odds are, even Marvel's most recent drafts of the 'Ant-Man' script are mostly and primarily centered around the "To Steal An Ant-Man" story, regardless of what revisions may have been made since Edgar Wright's original treatment. That said, it would be in their best interest to keep that story as the core of the film. 

Time is not on Marvel's side with this film, so it would be best to preserve that Scott Lang-centric nature of the story as they move forward, regardless of what changes they make. Should they be as major and/or similar to the suggestions I've made, or something else entirely.

So that's it! What you think Marvel Studios should do going forward? Do you agree with my suggestions? Disagree? Comment below.

Ant-Man is directed by Edgar Wright, with a script by Joe Cornish, and stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Patrick Wilson, Michael Pena, and Corey Stoll.

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