With Guardians of the Galaxy debuting in just a few short weeks, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has been making the press rounds lately. In a new interview with Empire, he discussed the departure of Ant-Man director Edgar Wright, the arrival of new director Peyton Reed, his thoughts on the new DC Comics/Warner Bros. movie universe, and more.
Following a separate interview earlier this week that shed new light on Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man the director offered new details about why the filmmaker and studio eventually went their separate ways.
"I don't know if we ever thought of ourselves as invincible, quite the opposite. If you start thinking you're invincible you start making bad decisions. We think we're very vincible, and worry all the time! No, it's much more personal than that.
We've been with Edgar for eight years, we saw the premiere of a number of his films in this very theatre. The biggest disappointment to me is not that he will not be making the movie. It was determined by him and by us that that would not be the best thing for the movie. The disappointing thing for me is not being able to make a movie with him, right now; it's just the personal relationship. And it was amicable and we sat in a room together and said this isn't working. I just wish I or he had figured that out somewhere in the eight years leading up to it.
But we said, OK, let's put out a statement and let people know it's not screaming and fighting and dramatic. It just came to came down to creative differences. And I said, 'Well, nobody's ever gonna believe that because that's what everybody always says.' And Edgar said 'But that is what it is.' He was nervous about what the perception would be, and I said to Edgar 'Don't worry about it, because the perception will be that the evil studio squashes the innocent filmmaker'. That will be the perception no matter what, and that is the perception, but it's much more complicated than that.
Again to me, it's reading in the early days of online fandom with Ain't It Cool News back in 1999 that Bryan Singer was a terrible choice for X-Men and Hugh Jackman is way too tall to be Wolverine. We're very thick-skinned and we're use to the second-guessing and the color commentary during the process. We've done what we've always done, which is block it out and make the best movie possible because it always comes down to the end product, when the lights go down on opening night and the clean slate appears and what is the experience of the movie. And clearly we believe that we're on the road now with Peyton Reed to the best version of Ant-Man that could have existed."
While he wouldn't offer specific details about what lead to the split, the producer added that both the studio and director were perhaps being too polite to one another over the past eight years.
"Well, it's not worth, right now, going into that in super-specifics. I wish it wasn't as late in the day as it was, but it just had become clear that there was an impasse that we had never reached before. We've worked with lots of unbelievable talented filmmakers like Edgar before, and of course there are disagreements along the way. There's always been disagreements, whether big or small; that's the collaborative nature of filmmaking and in particular the collaborative nature at Marvel that has producers, not just me, that are very involved and very opinionated. We had always found a way around it, a way to battle through it and emerge on the other side with a better product. At no point do we hire filmmakers who do everything we say, and at no point do we hire filmmakers that we let just do anything they want. There is always a middle ground that we find, and it just became clear that both of us was just being too polite over the past eight years I guess! Then it was clear that, 'Oh you're really not gonna stop talking about that note?' 'Oh, you're really not gonna do that note?' Alright this isn't working."
When asked if the studio has enough time to make Ant-Man, which is slated for release on July 17, 2015, the producer had this to say.
"Our schedule is not that dissimilar right now from Iron Man 3 and the original Avengers. And Ant-Man is not that visually complicated as either of those two films."
The Marvel Studios executive also added why he thinks Peyton Reed is the right choice to replace Edgar Wright on Ant-Man, after he was initially approached to direct a version of The Fantastic Four that was rumored to be set in the 1960s.
"It wasn't 60s-set. He had done a film called Down With Love which was really good, which was '60s set and I think that's where some of the confusion came in, but it was, I believe, going to be very very cool. We had a year or more on that version and we weren't Marvel studios then, and I was just one of many people involved in that first version. And over the years we had stayed in touch with him and frankly had come very close on many movies with him to working with him again. When Edgar left this project, we talked about a number of different filmmakers and had few a few meetings with a few filmmakers and ending up reaching out to Peyton knowing that Peyton is not a slam dunk. He's not just, 'Oh, a movie, I'll take it'. He had to be convinced that the big bad studio hadn't squashed the filmmaker, that we were doing what was right for the movie. He read all the previous drafts and everything that had been created and is elevating it, and really having a clear vision of his own to bring this to life. The cast is incredibly engaged and we're starting on August 18."
When asked about Warner Bros. and DC Comics "getting their act together" by creating their own cinematic universe, Kevin Feige had this to say.
"I don't think it is quite fair to say DC is finally getting their act together. The Dark Knight movies were rather successful and genre-defining, they altered the genre in big ways. So I think there has always been competition that way. I mean Iron Man was the number one movie of 2008 until The Dark Knight came along, and I loved it. frankly. I love that the number 1 and the number 2 movies of that year, and it has happened a number of times since then, being comic-book movies, even if it wasn't one we made. Here we are now, 14 years since the first Marvel movie I worked on. At that point it had been eight years and for about those eight years people had been asking 'How much longer gonna last?' 'When are people gonna get tired of these movies? And my answer always was 'People only get tired if a whole slew of terrible ones come out'. And it was our job to make sure that doesn't happen. If there are other people out there interested in that not happening as well, I'm all for it!"