It’s Ant-Man all over again.
Allow me to explain. THR has heard that John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein have been tapped as the writers for Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures’ Tom Holland-led Spider-Man reboot, joining a creative team that already includes Jon Watts (Cop Car) as director and Kevin Feige and Amy Pascale as producers. You probably know Daley as Linda Cardellini’s adorable younger brother in Freaks and Geeks, or as the psychiatrist on Bones. However, similar to his Freaks and Geeks co-stars Seth Rogen and Jason Segal he’s also turned himself into a screenwriter except unlike those guys he doesn’t just write the scripts for movies he stars in. In fact, he’s more of a screenwriter than actor at this point, credited with his writing partner Goldstein for both Horrible Bosses movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. His character was actually written out of Bones because he simply didn’t have the time for them anymore after he was hired to not only co-write but also co-direct the upcoming Vacation reboot.
The way that any of this connects to Ant-Man is that back when Edgar Wright left that project Anchorman‘s Adam McKay was one of the applicants to replace him as director. That particular gig went to Payton Reed, but McKay was hired on to re-write the script with Paul Rudd. History has repeated itself because Daley and Goldstein were reportedly among the finalists to direct the new Spider-Man, although Variety says the final three were Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies) and Watts. Now, Daley and Goldstein will write the script.
Lesson of the day: If Marvel Studios likes you, they will find a way to work with you, even if it’s not for the job you most wanted. Also, be nice to anyone else interviewing for the job because you may end up working for them.
That being said, it’s fair to question why exactly Marvel likes Daley and Goldstein for a Spider-Man movie. For starters, Jon Watts co-wrote both of the movies he’s directed to this point, Clown and Cop Car. So, like Joss Whedon, Shane Black and James Gunn before him in the Marvel Studios pantheon, he seemed ideally suited to work on the new Spider-Man as a writer-director. However, Watts is definitely more of an unknown entity than Whedon, Black and Gunn, and in the case of the first Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy there were scripts which predated Whedon and Gunn’s respective involvement. That gave them a story outline to go off for their reportedly massive re-writes. So, maybe whatever Daley and Goldstein come up with will just be re-written by Watts, or maybe Watts is strictly working on this as a director. I don’t know.
Based on past Marvel Studios precedent, the script will likely undergo rewrites during filming and especially during post-production once Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso take over. However, before you ever get to fix it in post you have to start out with a story, and Daley and Goldstein are the guys trusted with coming up with that story. Their body of work, however, doesn’t bode particularly well. As BirthMoviesDeath said, “I haven’t seen Vacation yet, but I’ve heard pretty bad things, mostly that it’s the same level of almost funny, fake-dirty stuff we’ve seen in their other movies.”
The trailer doesn’t look particularly promising:
There’s very little in any of the movies they’ve written to this point that suggests why they make sense as screenwriters for a big budget comic book movie, Spider-Man or otherwise. At least Watts kinda, sorta makes sense as director because of his apparent mastery of working with the young actors at the heart of Cop Car, which is a minimalistic thriller about very young teens who pick the absolute wrong cop car to take a joy ride in. Plus, Watts’ prior work as a commercial director means he should be accustomed to accommodating the needs of a corporate hierarchy.
Daley and Goldstein, on the other hand, only make sense if you look at it through squinted eyes. For instance, Kevin Feige told SlashFilm that if you had to categorize this new Spider-Man the way that Winter Soldier is a political conspiracy thriller and Ant-Man is a heist film you’d say, “Spider-Man will be a John Hughes movie.” Well, who better to write it than the two guys who just rebooted the movie which kicked off John Hughes’ screenwriting career, National Lampoon’s Vacation. However, Feige was presumably referring more to Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, not so much Vacation. The only other thing I see is that while Daley has never written anything remotely similar to or on the same level as Freaks and Geeks, he was at least actually in Freaks and Geeks, which is among the best high school shows ever made. Who better to write about a geeky high school kid then someone who’s actually played one? Maybe Daley has that kind of story in him as a writer (along with Goldstein), and he just hasn’t had a chance to show it yet outside of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2?
However the writing credits end up shaking out, the new Spider-Man is due out July 28, 2017. As a reminder, here’s what Feige previously said about the plan to re-focus on Peter Parker’s high school years:
We want to play with Spider-Man in the high school years because frankly there’ve been five Spider-Man films and the amazing thing about it is, even though there’ve been five Spider-Man films, there are so many things from the comics that haven’t been done yet. Not just characters or villains or supporting characters, but sides to his character. The most obvious being the ‘young, doesn’t quite fit in’ kid before his powers, and then the fella that puts on a mask and swings around and fights bad guys and doesn’t shut up, which is something we want to play with and we’re excited about. […] [S]ome of my favorite Spider-Man arcs and Spider-Man stories, he’s in high school for a lot of it. We want to explore that. That also makes him very, very different from any of our other characters in the MCU, which is something else we want to explore: how unique he is when now put against all these other characters.