UPDATE: Amid the morning news that Adam McKay has backed away from talks of directing Marvel‘s Ant-Man, the Anchorman director took to Twitter to say the following:


PREVIOUS, 8:04 AM ANALYSIS: Marvel and the reps of Adam McKay will spend the weekend trying to make a deal for the Talladega Nights helmer to replace Edgar Wright as the director of Ant-Man. McKay, the former Saturday Adam McKayNight Live writer who grew up on that show with Will Ferrell and moved with him to feature films, has become an accomplished director of comedies (Step Brothers is my favorite), but this seems to be a risky move (reports have him already deciding this is not for him). I was already skeptical of how serious to take the Ant-Man thing when Paul Rudd was cast as the title character, not because Rudd isn’t a good enough actor, but because he’s so identified as a comic actor. Setting McKay as director pushes the perception of this movie more towards, say, The Green Hornet than something like Captain America: Winter Soldier. I would have been less surprised had McKay been set to direct Ghostbusters, after Ivan Reitman bowed out, than a superhero film. One of the best things about these Marvel superhero movies under Kevin Feige is that they don’t take themselves too seriously in between giant action sequences. The blend of the occasional great comic line was particularly sharp in the Joss Whedon-directed Avengers film.

I recall laughing out loud maybe a dozen times. Like when Thor cautioned his fellow superheros to be respectful of his villainous brother, Loki:

torThor: He is of Asgard and he is my brother!
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in 2 days.
Thor: [Pause] He’s adopted.

antmaLines like that, or the Hulk sucker punching Thor after they dispatch villains, or Hulk responding to Loki’s threats by swinging him around like a rag doll, or the Mandarin leaving behind an unpleasant bathroom aroma in Iron Man 3 or any number of other examples, and this has been a signature style, blending laughs but never undermining the serious gravity of the world-is-at-stake subject matter. That’s my concern about weighting Ant-Man too much in comedy campiness. In his time at Marvel, Feige has been proven right making more gutsy decisions than just about any executive in Hollywood, with the possible exception of Jeff Robinov. The fact that he didn’t change the release date of Ant-Man when Wright bolted shows he feels pretty confident about what he’s got here. The big challenge for Marvel to continue to justify its $4 billion deal at Disney was to go beyond the core superhero franchises and tap the Marvel back list to create new ones. Feige takes the first crack at that with the ensemble Guardians Of The Galaxy later this summer, but Ant-Man is his riskiest attempt yet to launch a new superhero franchise. He has made some smart surprise choices with directors before, but with this unexpected move, Ant-Man will be either be his crowning achievement, or his Waterloo.