|Ant-Man Helmet, Source: Marvel|
What did Edgar Wright have planned for Ant-Man? He’s been attached as a director and screenwriter for the movie since he began developing it in 2003, but suddenly announced he was leaving the movie last week. Details are sketchy, but what no one is denying is that Wright left Ant-Man because of “creative differences.” That means the script. Reportedly, Marvel demanded multiple rewrites, including a final rewrite by other writers without consulting Wright. I thought it would be interesting to look at what Wright had planned for the movie, and why he clashed with Marvel over it.
Marvel seems to have balked at Wright’s original vision, which made Ant-Man into a criminal. Most fans of the superhero are familiar with Hank Pym, the troubled but genius scientist who developed the technology for and became Ant-Man. But in Wright’s script, Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) would not be the hero. Wright’s hero would be Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), a thief who stole the technology from Pym and adopted the persona of Ant-Man. This happened in the comics, as this overview (courtesy of Wikipedia) details:
“When his daughter Cassie Lang became seriously ill, Lang decided to return to burglary as a final resort. He broke into Dr. Henry Pym’s home and stole his Ant-Man uniform and shrinking gas canisters. Garbed as Ant-Man, Lang broke into Cross Technological Enterprises and discovered that Dr. Erica Sondheim, the only person capable of helping his daughter, was being held prisoner. He rescued the doctor and was relieved when Sondheim was able to save his beloved Cassie’s life.
“Lang had intended to return the Ant-Man costume to Pym and turn himself in for its theft but Pym, aware of the use to which Lang had put the stolen goods, offered to let him keep them, provided he only use them to uphold the law.”
Probably some variation of that is what Wright intended, as he once described to Superhero Hype:
Well, the thing is that what we want to do, the idea that we have for the adaptation is to actually involve both. Is to have a film that basically is about Henry Pym and Scott Lang, so you actually do a prologue where you see Pym as Ant-Man in action in the 60′s, in sort of “Tales to Astonish” mode basically, and then the contemporary, sort of flash-forward, is Scott Lang’s story, and how he comes to acquire the suit, how he crosses paths with Henry Pym, and then, in an interesting sort of Machiavellian way, teams up with him. So it’s like an interesting thing, like the “Marvel Premiere” one that I read which is Scott Lang’s origin, it’s very brief like a lot of those origin comics are, and in a way, the details that are skipped through in the panels and the kind of thing we’d spend half an hour on.
While it sounds cool, this would have been a very controversial move for Marvel. We’ve come a long way since Tony Stark first appeared as an alcoholic philanderer in Iron Man. More recent movies like Captain America and Thor have flawed but heroic figures. Wright would have made a criminal into a Marvel hero, something they wouldn’t want. This was partially confirmed by Latino Review, who claimed one reason for the rewrites was the “core morality.”
Wright also refused to sync his movie with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When he originally started developing the treatment, it was before the success of Iron Man and the rest of the MCU. When Avengers was announced, many expressed surprise Ant-Man wasn’t in it, since he’s been a core member in the comics. Wright explained:
I talked to Kevin Feige about that a while back where we just discussed about whether he would be in The Avengers. The thing is, the script that I’ve written, you know, whether it’s next or not I don’t know, the chronology of it or the way it works wouldn’t really fit in with what they do. And my film is very much an introduction to that character, and so it wasn’t something where it felt right to introduce him in that film. Maybe if I do the solo Ant-Man film and maybe there’s a later Avengers then they could draft him in later. But it didn’t work with the kind of the angle that we were going to do with the origin that I’d written.
As late as 2013, he insisted that Ant-Man would be a standalone film with no connection to the MCU. That’s definitely not what Marvel wants with its now standard formula of including references to prior films, cameos from other superheroes, and post-credits teases to other movies. Latino-Review also mentioned the need to “include franchise characters” as another issue Wright balked at. My guess is Wright didn’t want Ant-Man walking through a bar and running into Bruce Banner.
With Wright gone, that probably means Marvel is free to pursue their vision instead of his. That means more cameos, and the whole thief aspect will be either played down or could go out the window. Here’s hoping they still manage to pull this movie off.
Would you have watched Wright’s version of Ant-Man?