Does MARVEL STUDIOS Hold Back Director Creativity? James Gunn and the Russo Brothers Say No Way

Former Ant-Man writer and director Edgar Wright was working on developing Marvel Studios' Ant-Man for for nearly a decade of his professional life. And it was a big shock to many when he parted ways with Marvel due to 'creative differences.' Whether it was 'creative differences' or 'a difference of opinion' or 'management differences,' it's all common phrasing used by most corporate entities when public press releases and announcements need to be made in order to not disparage an individual.

But this is not the point. The point of this column is to highlight the fact Marvel Studios is not the Hollywood studio monster some may think it might be when it comes to letting its auteur be creative. If you disagree you should go and see Guardians of the Galaxy because writer/director James Gunn's creative influence is throughout.

Gunn spoke about the level of creativity Marvel gave him in an interview with Film School Rejects.

“Every step along the way I’ve been surprised by how much freedom Marvel gave me. So much to the point I sometimes doubted their wisdom in letting me do so much. It’s strange, my first draft probably wasn’t quite as funny as the second draft. They loved the humor, but I was worried about making a movie too funny. I naturally make things funny, I guess. I don’t want to mix genre and confuse people, but they were like, ‘We love it.’ They know how to make a hit movie, while I know how to make my kind of movie. I hope that’s the right path, so I kept going.”

Based on Gunn's comment it sounds like Marvel does indeed let their directors have lots of creative freedom. Obviously, the freedom can be restricted but any of the rumors claiming 'creative differences' was the reason Wright was let go, or behind Jon Favreau not coming back for Iron Man 3, or the change of directors for Thor: The Dark World is really nonsense and conjecture. There's much more to those directors being let go than what was reported as being 'creative differences' or whatever the reasoning was that the media published.

If you still don't believe Marvel gives creative freedom, Captain America: The Winter Soldier director Joe Russo also spoke about the freedom he and his brother Anthony had in developing the sequel (and now its threequel) to

"I mean, everybody works a little differently here but Marvel, when they hire their filmmakers, you have a pretty wide berth. They're giving you a lot of creative freedom and it's no different from any other studio where of course when somebody writes a check for $200 million, they're going to expect to have a say at some point but it's been the most hands-off experience we've ever had, no question. And we were given the most creative freedom we've ever had, inclusive of our TV experience, where we've built ourselves up into a nice position of power in television. 
"I think that's the Marvel way, and if you can communicate your vision to them very clearly and they trust your ability to execute that vision, you're in great shape over here. It's a very healthy process and we've told Kevin [Feige] that he's going to have to drag the two of us out of here kicking and screaming before we leave Marvel because we've had such a great experience here and we love everybody who works here."

The real story of these director changes may never be known. If Marvel limiting its director's creative juices was/is truly the case, then Marvel Studios wouldn't have 10 hit film releases in a row. And they have such a tremendous run on their movies because Marvel Studios likes what each director brings to a film.

Related Post: ANT-MAN Report: Edgar Wright Wanted a "Smaller, Standalone Film" While Marvel Studios Did Not