Opinion: Is MARVEL getting arrogant in their old age?

MARVEL Studios, over the weekend, announced the loss of two talented geek directors on their high profile projects.  Late Friday we learned of Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs The World) leaving the ANT-MAN movie that was a blink from shooting.

Today we hear that Drew Goddard is off as showrunner for the Netflix DAREDEVIL tv series.  A franchise that Goddard himself had publicly stated was his dream project to work on even before he worked in the film business.  He said this years ago and probably before Marvel was even aware of his existence.  Again, significant work had already been done on the project and by all accounts Goddard was living his dream.  Then suddenly he’s off the project.  Kept on in an advisory role, but no longer involved as he would have liked. What happened?

HitFix had an article up shortly after the ANT-MAN news broke where Drew McWeeny (AICN’s Moriarty) suggested in not so many words that people calm the #$^% down and trust that MARVEL isn’t doing this for any negative reasons.  After all, they (Marvel) have a proven record of taking chances on great filmmakers that other studios wouldn’t touch for projects of this high a profile and of course he has a point.  We shouldn’t be so quick to pile on the studio when things go wrong.

Today, the folks at Collider relay a different picture of the proceedings, however.  The story that emerges (if true) is a slight bit less flattering to the powers that be at The House of Ideas.  According to Collider’s communice; well we’ll just quote it for you to read for yourself…

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 was from Marvel’s in house writing team. 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.

If true, that explains a great deal and paints the folks at MARVEL (Disney?) in a decidedly bad light.  It’s hard to know what went wrong with the working relationship on the DAREDEVIL project, but it’s hard to believe that the studio didn’t know what they were getting when at least with ANT-MAN, this had been a project Edgar Wright and his writing partners had been working on perfecting for years.  By Kevin Feige’s (MARVEL Studios head) own account, ANT-MAN predates the Iron-Man movies.  How do you get weeks away from shooting a multi-year in the making film series and not know what the story was…

This is not the first I’ve heard of filmmakers being rubbed the wrong way by dealing with MARVEL, but up until now it was with projects that died in the pitch-negotiations stage and wisely those creators fled for the hills before.  It should be said that Collider’s reporting is not official news from either the filmmakers or the studios and we’ll likely never hear the real story publicly, but the conversations I’ve had with high profile movie makers substantiates this narrative of Marvel sometimes taking the mainstream Hollywood stance of “You work for Our Vision” instead of trusting the creatives they’ve hired to do what they were paid to do.

Movie making is a team sport and all parties working together to each others strengths is still the best way to make a film. Sometimes things go wrong. We can only hope more good work than not makes it out the other end of this poop shoot.


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