Last Friday, Edgar Wright, the globally adored filmmaker behind the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, abruptly departed the production of Ant-Man, the movie intended to be the kick-off to Marvel Studios’ Phase Three slate. During the weekend that followed, details over Wright’s surprising surrender of his directing duties emerged that suggested Marvel had taken the script out of his and co-writer Joe Cornish‘s hands and reportedly assigned it to Eric Pearson, writer of the Marvel One-Shot short films.
Unable to make a film that would have satisfied both the desires of Marvel and Disney and his own creative instincts, Wright decided to take a hike from the project he had been attached to on-and-off for the better part of the past eight years. Marvel already has his replacement cuing up in the bullpen as I write this, or so they claim. Meanwhile, Wright’s filmmaking colleagues/Marvel employees Joss Whedon and James Gunn have both expressed their sympathy and solidarity with his plight, but the man himself has remained silent on the issue until recently.
Wright tweeted – and then quickly deleted – a black & white photo of the legendary silent movie comic actor and filmmaker Buster Keaton doctored to show him holding a Cornetto ice cream cone, a signature of the British filmmaker’s famous trilogy of genre-busting comedies Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and last year’s fantastic The World’s End.
The picture had been tweeted with the description “selfie” before Wright removed it from his Twitter account. Why he did this may never exactly be known, or maybe it will soon enough, but that lone image can be interpreted in a few ways if one desires to get a read on Wright’s current state of mind following the end of his involvement with Ant-Man. Keaton was one of the most fiercely independent filmmakers of the early 20th century whose comedies including Sherlock, Jr., Seven Chances, and the groundbreaking The General are often hailed as the greatest examples of the genre’s early years.
His fortunes in Hollywood forever changed in 1928 when he signed with MGM, a studio as infamous as Marvel when it came to micromanaging their productions and treating creative talent as little more than the hired help. He was forced to work with dialogue-driven scripts handed to him by the higher-ups and employ a stuntman for dangerous shots though hurling himself into life-threatening situations for the purpose of amusing his enthralled audiences. By 1934 he had grown weary of the pressures of working under the thumb of a major studio and MGM fired him shortly after the completion of his final American starring vehicle What! No Beer?. Keaton would later refer to his MGM years as the worst business decision of his life.
Like Keaton, Edgar Wright has made films independent of the American studio system for most of his career, with the exception of 2010’s Scott Pilgrim. His British features have usually done better business theatrically and on home video in his native country than in the U.S. where he is a cult figure and Pilgrim was a big-budget endeavor that failed to connect with moviegoers during the summer when films like Iron Man 2, Inception, and The Expendables were raking in the dough. Even though Scott Pilgrim flopped at the box office, it certainly wasn’t due to the quality of the film itself, one that Wright was permitted to make his way with precious little interference from executives at Universal Pictures that has since gained a sizable cult following.
Wright’s energetic, vibrant filmmaking aesthetic seemed perfectly at home under the aegis of Marvel Studios in the early going. Upon being faced with the reality that his superhero passion project was doomed to become a pretty but vacant summer tentpole flick written by committee, the director decided that having a bed made out of money was not worth the spiritual grief that would prevent him from ever being able to get a good night’s sleep within its cozy confines. That kind of integrity is rare, and it only makes me respect Edgar Wright more than ever, despite it meaning that his and Cornish’s Ant-Man is officially lost to the ages.
[Source: Screen Rant via io9]