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10 Amazing Directors Who Quit Marvel Movies


Marvel superhero movies are money-making machines. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) alone is worth over $22 billion. They rake in billions of dollars for the studios and have launched the careers of dozens of actors. The studios say they work closely with filmmakers to have them make a spectacular movie. But the pressure and creative struggles are sometimes too much. Most of the time the process works well and audiences flock to see a director's vision come to life. But sometimes everything breaks down and a director quits. 

Here are nine directors who called it quits while working on a Marvel movie.

1. Edgar Wright


An Ant-Man movie was a passion project for Edgar Wright for many years. No one thought the pint-sized superhero would ever connect with audiences but he fought to get the film made. After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, Marvel agreed to make the first Ant-Man film. Wright worked on the movie for several years and submitted multiple drafts. The movie was close to being made and he showed a proof of concept video at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con.

Unfortunately, the studio bailed on some of his ideas and clashed with the director on the style of the movie. The death blow came when they rewrote the film without him. The director decided if he could make Ant-Man his way he wouldn't make it at all. He quit.

"I was the writer-director on it and then they wanted to do a draft without me and having written all my other movies, that’s a tough thing to move forward thinking if I do one of these movies I would like to be the writer-director," Wright later said. "Suddenly becoming a director for hire on it, you're sort of less emotionally invested and you start to wonder why you're there, really." So, after eight years, he left the project over "creative differences" and Payton Reed took over. Now Ant-Man is a big deal and Wright went on to make more movies with his signature style.

2. Joss Whedon


Joss Whedon directed Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Two massively successful Marvel movies. You'd think Whedon would come back for the third one but you'd be wrong. Avengers 3 and 4 are directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. Why wouldn't Whedon come back for more? Because he hated the experience.

Turns out Marvel has pretty tight creative control on the movies and while Whedon was able to make it through the process he wasn't happy. He fought with the studio about which scenes to include and shortening the runtime. Whedon later said the fights with Marvel got "really unpleasant". So Whedon quit and the Russos directed Infinity War and Endgame. No hard feelings though. He still has good things to say about the studio.

3. Patty Jenkins


When Natalie Portman signed on for Thor 2 she only had one request. That is besides a boatload of money: director Patty Jenkins. Portman had watched the Oscar-winning film Monster and felt she'd be a good fit for the MCU. The studio hired Jenkins and they began working on the first female-directed Marvel superhero movie. But this came to a crashing end over the oldest of reasons: creative control.

Jenkins wanted to make a Romeo and Juliet story with Jane and Thor forbidden from being together. She later said "I wasn't the right director... I could have made a great Thor if I could have done the story that I was wanting to do. But I don't think I was the right person to make a great Thor out of the story they wanted to do." So she quit.

The pair decided to agree to disagree and went their separate ways. Thor 2 became Thor The Dark World and became the lowest-rated MCU after Incredible Hulk. Years later Anna Boden co-directed Captain Marvel and became the first woman to direct an MCU movie. Meanwhile, Jenkins directed Wonder Woman the most critically acclaimed movie and second highest-grossing movie in DCs fledgling shared universe of films. Guess Jenkins didn't need a lasso of truth to see which way she should go.

4. Ava DuVernay


When Marvel was looking for someone to direct their first movie to star an African-American superhero they searched for a black director. Lots of names ended up in the shortlist and rumor had it that it would be Ava DuVernay. The woman had finished Selma and was looking forward to making a movie that would have as much cultural reach as Black Panther. They had several meetings. But in the end, she decided to quit. "We just didn't see eye to eye," she said later. "Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later."

Ryan Coogler went on to direct Black Panther to critical and box office success. DuVernay directed Wrinkle in Time and became the first African-American woman to direct a live-action movie with a budget of $100 million or more. Marvel's rival DC snatched her up for an upcoming comic book movie based on Jack Kirby's classic science-fiction epic "The New Gods". Not to stoke a rivalry between the two franchises but we'll see how DuVernay's superhero movie stacks up.

5. Scott Derrickson


Scott Derrickson directed the box office smash Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch. People began asking about a sequel almost as soon as it was released. Marvel was cagey and continually deflected the question. But everyone was hopeful and talked about future plans. "I love the character, I love the visual possibilities, and I know the comics so well—[the first movie is] the tip of an iceberg," Derrickson said. "There's so much progress that can be made." Finally, Marvel announced the sequel would be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness scheduled for release on May 7, 2021. Everyone was on board and expect the movie to be even bigger than the first. It sounded exciting but then the bombshell announcement dropped. Derrickson quit over creative differences.

While nothing has been officially announced it seems like the breakup happened over the tone of the movie. Derrickson is best known as a horror movie director and had promised the sequel would feel like a horror movie. "When I came and talked to [Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige] about doing a sequel, I said, 'I don’t want to do just another sequel. If I’m going to do it, it needs to go into the territory that drew me into the Doctor Strange comics in the first place' – which is how they dipped into the gothic and the horror and the horrific," Derrickson said at San Diego Comic-Con. "And we're going to make the first scary MCU movie." Recently Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige denied that and said: "I wouldn’t necessarily say that's a horror film, but it is, as Scott Derrickson, our director, has pitched it, it'll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it." Looks like Doctor Strange 2 won't be the first scary MCU movie after all.

6. Jon Favreau


The MCU is a big deal now but like everything it had to start somewhere. Director Jon Favreau basically created the MCU with his hit film Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. He even found time to act in the movie playing Harold "Happy" Hogan. Favreau came back to direct Iron Man 2 but didn't direct Iron Man 3. In fact, he hasn’t directed a single MCU movie since IM 2.

While Favreau says he enjoyed working on the movies he doesn't want to do it again. "Well, as far as directing goes, I had done two back-to-back, and that required a tremendous amount of concentration on one subject," he later said. "Fortunately, I didn't lose connection with it; I just wasn't directing there. I still was executive-producing Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3, and I appeared in Iron Man 3. So I maintained the relationship as part of the family." Iron Man 3 was directed by Shane Black and grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide. Meanwhile, Favreau is still busy though directing hit films for Disney like Jungle Book.

7. Matthew Vaughn


The X-Men movies are a multi-billion franchise. The movies were first directed by Bryan Singer but he stepped away to make Superman Returns. So the studio reached out to Matthew Vaughn to continue the franchise with X-Men 3. Vaughn had recently finished directing the small crime drama Layer Cake (2004) and was ready to tackle a big-screen Hollywood blockbuster. But Vaughn was cautious of Twentieth Century Fox rushing production: "I didn't have the time to make the movie I wanted to make," he later said. "I had a vision for how it should be, and I wanted to make sure I was making a movie as good as X2: X-Men United (2003), and I knew there was no way that could be." So Vaughn quit.

Later Vaughn would return to the franchise to direct X-Men First Class which became a hit. He was signed on to direct the sequel but bailed again. Again he felt Fox was rushing the production. Vaughn wanted to do a follow-up movie with a young Wolverine. But Fox wanted to do Days of Future Past. So Matthew Vaughn quit. Again. He has the distinction of quitting a Marvel movie twice. In the end, Fox made the successful Days of Future Past with Bryan Singer. Then they made the box office bomb Dark Phoenix. Vaughn went on the direct the successful ultra-violent Kingsmen series. Vaughn is good at what he does. But what he does isn’t very nice.

8. Alan Taylor


Alan Taylor was well known for directing on television shows like Deadwood and Game of Thrones. When Marvel reached out to him to direct his first theatrical film it seemed like a dream come true. But it turned into a nightmare. Taylor was hired to direct the sequel to the unlikely hit Thor and all seemed right in the world. That is until the editing room.

Turns out Marvel had a lot to say about the final film and it didn't sit well with the director. "The Marvel experience was particularly wrenching because I was sort of given absolute freedom while we were shooting, and then in post it turned into a different movie," Taylor told Uproxx. "So, that is something I hope never to repeat and don’t wish upon anybody else." In the end, maybe Taylor got the last laugh because despite the studio meddling Thor 2 didn't meet expectations. Unfortunately, Taylor went on to direct Terminator Genisys (2015) which he said he had complete control over. So this one might just be a tie in the fight between directors and studios.

9. Tim Miller


Tim Miller worked long and hard to direct the Marvel superhero film Deadpool back in 2016. The movie starring the foul-mouthed fourth wall breaker became a sleeper hit and raked in millions. Not surprisingly the studio and cast were up for a sequel. But they had to do it without Miller.

Turns out the director and the star had creative differences about the direction of the franchise. Miller wanted to make another low budget movie while Reynolds dreamed of a big-budget action movie. "It became clear that Ryan [Reynolds] wanted to be in control of the franchise," Miller later said. "You can work that way as a director, quite successfully, but I can’t. I don't mind having a debate, but if I can't win, I don't want to play. And I don't think you can negotiate every creative decision, there's too many to make. So Ryan's the face of the franchise, and he was the most important component of that, by far. So if he decides he wants to control it, then he's going to control it." The two decided to agree to disagree and the pair parted ways. Deadpool 2 became another hit and Miller went on to direct the box office bomb Terminator: Dark Fate. But who knows? Now that Deadpool is owned by Marvel Studios maybe Miller will return too?

10. Darren Aronovsky


Twentieth-Century Fox began working on a second Wolverine solo movie after the first in 2009. Hugh Jackman was excited to see Logan go to Japan since he's a big fan of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 limited series. Darren Aronovsky had worked with Jackman on The Fountain and was going to direct. It seemed like a match made in heaven. But it quickly turned into an amicable divorce. Speaking of divorce that's one of the reasons he quit.

"As I talked more about the film with my collaborators at Fox, it became clear that the production of 'The Wolverine' would keep me out of the country for almost a year," he later said. "I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time. I am sad that I won’t be able to see the project through, as it is a terrific script and I was very much looking forward to working with my friend, Hugh Jackman, again." Turns out he was going through a messy custody battle with Rachel Weisz. He didn't want to add to the family drama by disappearing to Japan. The studio and director parted ways and hired James Mangold to direct The Wolverine.

Marvel movies are a huge draw and will keep bringing in mountains of cash. More amazing directors will be behind the reins.

About the Author
Maurice Mitchell has been a passionate science-fiction fan of movies, television, books, and comics since age five. He and his twin brother Nigel created the site "The Geek Twins" to share that passion. Maurice has written and created infographics for sites like The Geek Twins and About.com. His work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, io9 Slashfilm and more.
Read more of his posts | Follow him on Twitter @Mauricem1972 

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