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Nothing’s Changed at Marvel Studios

Will this version of Ant-Man survive to appear on the big screen next summer? Source: Marvel Entertainment.

Edgar Wright won't be directing Ant-Man and Drew Goddard has stepped down as executive producer of Daredevil. Are these the first signs of an inevitable decline at Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel Studios?

Host Ellen Bowman puts this question to analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this week's episode of 1-Up On Wall Street, The Motley Fool's web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.

Tim says that Marvel couldn't sustain a near-perfect record forever. Yet losing Wright may be the bigger blow of the two, if only because Goddard had already committed time to Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) for developing The Sinister Six, which now may be on a fast track with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on its way out of theaters.

So just how big is Wright's loss? Big enough. He'd been working on Ant-Man in some form or another since 2006, around the same time that a then-upstart Marvel Studios hired Jon Favreau to direct Iron Man. Tim says in a 2007 visit to Marvel HQ he'd been told the film would net out as a sort of action comedy reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead, the horror comedy Wright developed with actor Simon Pegg. Perhaps that concept no longer made sense to studio boss Kevin Feige? His vision is what unites the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its current form.

The Hollywood Reporter's Marc Bernardin refers to Feige as a showrunner, wherein each Marvel movie is like a grand TV episode in service to a larger whole. It's a good point, Tim says, and Bernardin should know. He's also an established comic book writer with screenwriting credentials and a staff writing job at Syfy on his resume.

Nathan says of the departures that the consequences for Marvel, if any, hinge on how the relationships ended. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we don't know the details but some reports now say that Wright left after Marvel ordered an outside rewrite of the Ant-Man script without first contacting him or writing partner Joe Cornish. They apparently weren't pleased with the process, or the resulting script.

A sad tale if true, but this also isn't the first time Marvel Studios has reversed itself. Monster director Patty Jenkins was to helm Thor: The Dark World, only to be replaced by Alan Taylor. The film was still a rousing success, earning more than $600 million worldwide. Feige's showrunner-style commitment to a common look, feel, and continuity across properties may have helped smooth the transition. Expecting anything less in this situation would probably be a mistake, Tim says.

Do you agree? What do you expect from Marvel's Ant-Man? Click the video to watch as Ellen puts Nathan and Tim on the spot, and then be sure to follow us on Twitter for more segments and regular geek news updates!

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Tim Beyers

Tim Beyers first began writing for the Fool in 2003. Today, he's an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova. At, he covers disruptive ideas in technology and entertainment, though you'll most often find him writing and talking about the business of comics. Find him online at or send email to For more insights, follow Tim on Google+ and Twitter.

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