While some directors make their jobs look easy, it’s important to remember how difficult a task they’re faced with is. In addition to attempting to please audiences and critics, they also have to succumb to studio expectations which often results in the creative vision they had for the film being drastically changed.
On certain occasions, however, a director will feel that their vision and the studios are no longer compatible, forcing the director to walk away from the project. Unfortunately, these occasions seem to be happening more and more often, especially for big-budget blockbusters.
Edgar Wright – ‘Ant-Man’
Back in 2006, two years before Robert Downey Jr first built his metal armor, Edgar Wright was hired by Marvel to write and direct Ant-Man. He remained involved with the project for almost a decade, going on to cast Paul Rudd in the lead role before, finally, he and Marvel realized their ideas no longer aligned.
Wright left the project in May 2014 and was quickly replaced by Peyton Reed, who went on to direct the entire Ant-Man trilogy, including the hotly-anticipatedAnt-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Despite receiving a writing credit on the film, Wright is yet to watch the movie, and many fans still wish they got to see what he originally intended for the microscopic character.
Matt Shakman – ‘Star Trek 4’
After decades spent working in TV, mastering his craft on shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Game of Thrones, and WandaVision, up-and-coming director Matt Shakman was finally offered the chance to work on his first blockbuster film, Star Trek 4.
Unfortunately for all those involved with the Star Trek franchise, Shakman’s time on WandaVision clearly impressed the folks at Marvel, and Shakman was offered the chance to direct the upcoming Fantastic 4, an offer Shakman quickly accepted. Since leaving Star Trek 4, the film’s release date has been removed from the calendar as the studio continues to search for a new director.
Danny Boyle – ‘No Time to Die’
Though you might think the opportunity to direct a James Bond movie would be a dream come true for a British director, but for Danny Boyle, the opportunity quickly turned into a nightmare. After a year spent developing the project, the acclaimed director left the film due to, you guessed it, creative opportunities.
Boyle didn’t waste time, though; he quickly signed on to direct Yesterday, a charming British film in which a struggling musician wakes up from an accident and realizes he’s the only person to remember The Beatles.
Tim Miller – ‘Deadpool 2’
After Deadpool became the surprise hit of 2016, earning almost $800 million from an estimated budget of just $58 million dollars, it seemed safe to assume that director Tim Miller would return to helm the sequel. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Miller left the project early in development, stating that he couldn’t make the movie he wanted to make because Ryan Reynolds wanted to control the franchise. Thankfully, Deadpool 2 was still a success and excitement is high for the third installment which will see Hugh Jackman return as Wolverine.
Justin Lin – ‘Fast X’
Justin Lin is the director responsible for salvaging the Fast and Furious franchise, first by introducing a new cast of characters in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and then by continuing the story of the original movie with Fast & Furious. After directing five films in the franchise, Lin shocked the industry by walking away from the upcoming Fast X just days into production.
Once again, Lin’s departure was blamed on creative differences, and Louis Leterrier was drafted in to take over the directorial duties, ensuring the movie doesn’t miss its 2023 release.
Ben Affleck – ‘The Batman’
Ben Affleck made a terrific impression on fans with his dark and grizzled take on the Dark Knight in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and many were ecstatic when it was announced that the actor would also direct and produce a Batman solo film. Unfortunately, however, it simply wasn’t meant to be.
sapped by the chaotic Justice League shoot, knowing that the director of a Batman movie should love every day on the job. Thankfully, Matt Reeves stepped in and delivered one of the best superhero movies of the year.Affleck stepped down from his directorial duties after his enthusiasm for the project was
Patty Jenkins – ‘Thor: The Dark World’
With the Wonder Woman franchise, Patty Jenkins proved herself to be one of the most exciting and versatile filmmakers currently working in the superhero genre, but she nearly stepped into the genre years earlier. Jenkins originally signed on to direct Thor: The Dark World but walked away when it became clear she and Marvel had wildly different ideas for the sequel.
Jenkins explained that she left because she didn’t believe in the project, and given that she was representing female directors everywhere if the film performed poorly, they would all be affected negatively.
Bassam Tariq – ‘Blade’
Excitement has been high ever since it was announced that Blade would finally be joining the MCU with Mahershala Ali in the leading role. Director Bassam Tariq did a lot of work developing the movie behind the scenes, but after several shifts in the film’s production schedule, the exciting director left the project.
Tariq will remain on board the project as an executive producer, and Yann Demange has been drafted in as his replacement. If all goes well, the film is set to start shooting in early 2023 before arriving in theaters in September 2024.
Guillermo del Toro – ‘The Hobbit’
Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy went on to gross staggeringly high figures at the global box office, despite many fans feeling that the prequel series failed to live up to The Lord of the Rings movies that came before. Still, many fans still wonder what the series could have looked like had Guillermo del Toro not walked away from the project in pre-production.
The Oscar-winning director left the project after becoming increasingly frustrated by the many production delays eating into his time and making it almost impossible for him to focus on the other projects he was attached to at the time.
Matthew Vaughn – ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’
Matthew Vaughn breathed fresh life into the X-Men franchise when he rebooted the series with X-Men: First Class, but he also came rather close to directing the third film in the original franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand. It was originally rumored that Vaughn left the project because he found the idea of making a movie with such a large budget daunting, but the director has since denied this.
Instead, Vaughn explained that he left the project because he didn’t feel that he was being given enough time to make the film as good as the two that came before, and he didn’t want to forever be remembered as the director who ruined the X-Men franchise. All things considered, it seems he definitely made the right decision.