The Industry Insider

Details on Edgar Wright's Departure from 'Ant-Man' Surface

A strong lack of faith in Wright and Cornish turns the relationship to ashes

Details on Edgar Wright's Departure from Ant-Man Surface
Photo: Marvel / Disney

On Friday we abruptly learned Edgar Wright was no longer attached to Marvel's Ant-Man and Marvel has apparently already found a replacement, though that replacement has not yet been announced. A day later it was announced Drew Goddard would no longer serve as showrunner for Marvel's Netflix series "Daredevil", which came as less of a surprise considering Goddard is also attached to The Sinister Six at Sony and possibly the timing just wasn't going to work out as he'll remain on board as some sort of consultant.

However, the Goddard information first came to light as Latino Review was doing some digging into the Edgar Wright scenario only to learn of what may have been the straw that broke the camel's back and sent Wright packing.

Wright, who's been attached to the Ant-Man film since about 2006 and officially on board the project since about 2012, co-wrote the script with Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and apparently, about three months ago, Marvel had some more notes for said script, the meat of which dealt with the "core morality of the piece, must include franchise characters. etc."

According to Latino Review these notes came from "the big four at Marvel" and it appears most believe Marvel co-president Kevin Feige isn't among those pulling at these strings. This leaves fellow co-president Louis D'Esposito, COO Tim Conners, and marketing officer Douglas Finberg. Of course, the fourth in that chain of command could be Walt Disney Studios chairman, Alan Horn, if Feige truly was pulling for Wright.

So, back to the drawing board went Wright and Cornish and after two more drafts Marvel reportedly took it out of their hands and assigned the script to "two very low credit writers". Latino Review reports the script came in this past week and is described as "[p]oorer, homogenized, and not Edgar's vision. Edgar met with Marvel on Friday to formally exit and the announcement went out directly after."

The site reports both Wright and Cornish were upset by the sudden lack of faith and insists Kevin Feige "had always batted for them" and "this felt like it came from the higher ups."

Now, the questions I have are to wonder just who exactly Marvel has hired to direct. I think we all remember Patty Jenkins being unceremoniously ousted from the director's chair on Thor: The Dark World. Interesting enough, the reason Wright was bounced was "due to differences in their vision of the film". Sounds a little familiar when you read this excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter article announcing Jenkins' departure:

Jenkins was so explicit about her vision for the film that she didn't expect to be hired in the first place. The source speculates that Marvel executives might have been won over initially by [Natalie Portman's] enthusiasm for Jenkins but then, "when they started to interview writers for the rewrite... may have decided they really weren't comfortable."

Interesting, I think we were all surprised Wright was ever hired for Ant-Man as well and, like Jenkins, he made his exit.

Then we come to Alan Taylor who replaced Jenkins and has been vocal about his battles with the studio from the amount of exposition at the beginning of the film to the end credits sequence directed by James Gunn in preparation for the release of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Speaking of Gunn, he issued a response to the Wright departure posting the following on Facebook:

Sometimes you have friends in a relationship. You love each of them dearly as individuals and think they're amazing people. When they talk to you about their troubles, you do everything you can to support them, to keep them together, because if you love them both so much doesn't it make sense they should love each other?

But little by little you realize, at heart, they aren't meant to be together - not because there's anything wrong with either of them, but they just don't have personalities that mesh in a comfortable way. They don't make each other happy. Although it's sad to see them split, when they do, you're surprisingly relieved, and excited to see where their lives take them next.

It's easy to try to make one party "right" and another party "wrong" when a breakup happens, but it often isn't that simple. Or perhaps it's even more simple than that - not everyone belongs in a relationship together. It doesn't mean they're not wonderful people.

And that's true of both Edgar Wright and Marvel. One of them isn't a person, but I think you get what I mean.

And by now I think we've all seen Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon's show of support for Wright on Twitter with the following post, which Wright himself retweeted:

So who will step in? And just as importantly, what script will they be working from?

Based on the Latino Review report it sounds like it is nowhere near finished and yet the current plan is to stick with that July 17, 2015 release date.

Also interesting, from how I understand it, the cast, which includes Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Patrick Wilson and Corey Stoll, is locked in so they'll be part of this one way or another. Though, I have to assume that is dictated on whether or not the film maintains its current path to production, otherwise contracts, I would assume can easily be broken.

I have to assume Marvel will want to get out ahead of any more information leaking out, so we may hear more very soon. Then again, they seemed to show a lack of support for this project for a very long time before seeing Wright's pitch reel, could they possibly scrap it altogether?

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  • http://themoviegurusblog.blogspot.com The Movie Guru

    From here on out, the film is going to be judged on another level because we'll be comparing it to "what it could have been if Edgar Wright had directed it."

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    Edgar Wright not being a box office director and this new-unknown property could that play a part in Disney getting last minute cold feet?

    With the homogenized script re-write with stipulations of franchise characters being included (I'm guessing Iron Man, Nick Fury, Black Widow) being in there as more than cameos?

    Is it also possible that Marvel never had any intention of letting Wright to direct Ant-Man just have him develop it, but meddle so much that he eventually leaves because PR wise, it would look bad If they just fired him. Thus poisoning the water for who they wanted to direct all along? But I guess that sorta all ready happened.

    I wonder how much the interest in this movie percentage wise was

    Edgar Wright directing a Marvel film vs Brand New Marvel Film

    • vincanss

      Joss Whedon wasn't a "box office" director before Avengers either. Just saying.. You can't really predict what Wright would have done except that it would have probably been his most successful film to date on account of the Marvel association alone.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/maja/ maja

    I don't think this is a surprise at all. Edgar Wright didn't stick to the Marvel formula so they essentially forced him off his own project. Now I am sure they will hire a second rate director who will essentially be the yes-man they are looking for.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

    Next day they announce Brett Ratner as director...

    • andyluvsfilms

      With Pauly Shore as Ant Man, that's the ultimate tag team.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

        Boom shackalaka!

  • Nardog

    James Gunn's comment almost made me cry.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    Gunn's statement is basically establishing that what Wright wanted and what someone at Marvel wants is no longer the same thing. We already knew that.
    It seems ultimately that despite any previous incarnations of the film or script how 'Ant-Man' would or would not fit into the current MCU is where things have broken down, because I'm guessing Wright probably isn't too concerned about the MCU itself overall whereas that is now undeniably Marvel's priority. My gut feeling is that Feige probably isn't the problem here either but someone else above him who has veto power.
    I feel slightly bad for the director who'll replace Wright though, because they'll really face an impossible job in overcoming this development with whatever they make. But then, as noted if they already have a director ready to go, this has been on the cards for some time anyway. It's not as sudden as it appeared on Friday.
    It's also bad PR for Marvel to overcome because of how Wright is regarded generally. Whilst I don't have any problems with their films so far, they may begin to face a similar problem (but on a significantly larger scale) that the Star Trek franchise faced in the 1990s when the unimaginative Rick Berman ran the entire franchise but was very dominant about what could and could not be allowed, which led to stale TV series and films that while not strictly bad..............were not always what they could have been. I don't think Marvel is at that point yet, but they could come to it of they believe themselves invulnerable in the long run.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      I seriously hope Jonathon Levine doesn't get brought on board. I can only hope that. His name was floating around Doctor Strange and the Christmas eve project with JGL & Rogen isn't coming out until Dec. 2015.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

        Never seen any of films so unfortunately I can't comment.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

          50/50 or Warm Bodies?

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

            '50/50' is sitting on my rental list, but 'Warm Bodies' doesn't interest me at all I'm afraid.

            • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

              50/50 is one of my favorites if not my favorite of 2011 and Warm Bodies was a lot of fun, better then expected.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JonSullivan/ Jon Sullivan

                Agreed, '50/50' was great. Definitely worth a watch. 'Warm Bodies' is on HBO Go if you have access to it.

  • http://cineenuruguay.com/ Driver

    You know what, Wright doesn't have a bad film in his filmography and every single one belongs to him. I don't want to see him working on something he doesn't believe in; So yes, you missed your chance Marvel. I guess is fair to say though, I'm not that excited for Ant-Man now...

    On a side note, Whedon killed it with that pic.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      Bingo bango bongo!

  • Dave AD

    I really wonder how big this movie will eventually end up being or what the budget will be. It seems Marvel has gone big with all their films so far, where as I don't see any Ant-Man film pulling in Iron Man type money. I would be interested to see a mid-level type Marvel film, but that might not be something they want to do.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    Alan Taylor directed some of the best episodes in Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Oz, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. He also directed a couple for Lost, Carnivale, Rome, Big Love, Six Feet Under, The West Wing, Homicide and Sex and the City. Although I haven't seen any of those.

    But the ones I have seen were all fantastic. So obviously Thor 2 was a huge disappointment. Knowing that Disney could force such a fantastic director to turn in such a horrible movie is a bad sign. Same goes for Shane Black, who's only film is a personal favorite of mine.

    It's good that Edgar Wright has abandoned ship. He would have had a horrible black spot on his filmography had he stayed.

    • vincanss

      Well, 'may have'. Or he may have still turned in a really good movie, albeit a compromised one.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      Agreed. No way Wright could have made it work with all of this now surfacing. At this point they could just get the executives to direct these, wouldn't make much of a difference.

  • http://www.imdb.com/list/aqXTFXDPhQY/ Exxdee13

    Really disappointed to see Edgar Wright's departure, but I think it is for the best. I am a big fan of his movies. I also think Geoffrey Ammer died...

  • Kingsley_Zissou

    I bet Wally Pfister's phone isn't ringing too much right now. Maybe he should join this party.

    • ClassicWingers

      That was a low blow.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

      Shot fired!

  • vincanss

    Alan Taylor (Thor 2) expressed interest in making Ant-Man when asked in an interview late last year if given the choice. For this reason, I believe he may be chosen, or strongly in the running. He seemed to be genuinely excited by the idea of Wright's Ant-Man.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

      Taylor is directing 'Terminator 5' just now. There is no way he could deliver both for July 2015 so unless 'Ant-Man' gets pushed by at minimum a full year it won't be him.

      • vincanss

        Ahh, that's him off the list then. I'd go for either Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) or Ruben Fleischer (based on Zombieland). Sort of similar humour and sensibilities based on those particular films.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

          Fleischer would be more likely. Vaughn's going to his own rhythm (which I prefer).

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

          I think those are possibly names that are probably off the cards as well. Neither of them make great movies particularly (although I do have a fondness for 'Stardust') but they already seem 'bigger' than Marvel seems to have an eye on lately.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

        Based on his response to making Thor 2 I can't see him ever returning to Marvel.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

          I guess not, going by the implication in the article..............but fair play to him, Taylor was able to use Marvel to leverage himself from TV to film so he likely wouldn't have gotten the Terminator gig without that break.

  • PJ Edwards

    Bai Marvel. It was nice knowing you.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    People who are available:

    1. Rian Johnson- Brick, Looper, Breaking Bad (probably the best episode of the series)
    2. Neil Marshalll- The Descent, Centurion, Game of Thrones' Blackwater
    3. Martin McDonaugh- In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths
    4. Danny Boyle- Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Trance
    5. Phil Lord and Chris Miller- Lego Movie, 21/22 Jump Street
    6. Alex Graves- Game of Thrones, Terra Nova, 666 Park Avenue
    7. Doug Liman- The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow, Jumper, Mr.& Mrs. Smith
    8. Adam Bernstein- Fargo, 30 Rock, Breaking Bad
    9. Marc Forster- Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction, Monster's Ball, Quantum of Solace, World War Z
    10. Sam Raimi- Evil Dead trilogy, Spider-Man trilogy, Oz the Great and Powerful
    11. Gore Verbinski- Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango, The Lone Ranger, The Ring
    12. Nicholas Stoller- Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get him to the Greek, Neighbors
    13. Tim Van Patten- Boardwalk Empire, Rome, The Wire, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos
    14. Martin Campbell- GoldenEye, Casino Royale, Green Lantern, Zorro, Last Resort
    15. Paul Feig- Bridesmaids, Walk Hard, Knocked Up, The Heat
    16. Mike Newell- Prince of Persia, Harry Potter 4, Man in the Iron Mask
    17. Peter Berg- Hancock, Lone Survivor, Battleship
    18. Michel Gondry- Be Kind Rewind, The Green Hornet, Eternal Sunshine
    19. Louis Letterier- The Incredible Hulk, Transporter 1&2, Now You See Me
    20. Pierre Morel- Taken, From Paris with Love, District 13

    • http://jakesaysstuff.blogspot.com jake_w

      Paul Feig didn't do Walk Hard

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

        Damn, I'm sure I was gonna get something wrong. Wrote all of these from memory.

        • Laura Abraham

          Pretty good job from memory! I certainly would like to see someone as "weird" and funny as Wright is, like Gondry, Rian Johnson, or Lord & Miller

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

            Everything was from memory, but I did check 2 or 3 of them to make sure they were in fact available. I wrote names like Neil Blomkamp and Brad Bird before figuring out that they already had projects lined up.

            They're ranked in order from my favorite pick to least so I'd really be excited if Rian Johnson got it.

    • Sharlto

      I'm timid about Gondry, since his last superhero movie was "The Green Hornet", and uh...

      We don't talk about it.

      That said, I would lose my mind if Martin McDonaugh was announced as the new director. I would lose it further when he got fired too and was replaced by Brett Ratner.

  • Vos_L

    The response to this so far has been comical. One would think that Ant-Man was the most anticipated film of the last decade and that Wright is the best director ever. People drop out of movies all the time. I'm sure there are at least 50 directors out there that can make a decent Ant-Man movie. Frankly, I'm glad he's out. Who the heck makes an Ant-Man movie and skips over Hank Pym to make Scott Lang the focal point? Where was all the disdain from comic book fans at Wright thumbing his nose at Pym? If anyone is going to make the first Ant-Man movie, it should be Pym as Ant-Man and he should be teamed up with the Wasp. Anything else is absurd. Wright wanted to make a standalone Ant-Man and Marvel wanted characters consistent with the source material that could be integrated into their cinematic universe. Creative differences....it happens. So good riddance to Wright....was never a big fan of his work anyway.

  • andyluvsfilms

    "Interesting, I think we were all surprised Wright was ever hired for Ant-Man"
    I don't remember being that surprised at the time but such is the homogenisation of the Marvel movies four years on that if it was announced today it would be a major announcement.
    As for the film itself, they have basically confirmed what we now expect, expect another advert for the film that comes after it.

    ps love the Joss Whedon photo, just genius.

  • Steve C

    This is still very disappointing to me. Also confusing though because it has been somewhat encouraging knowing that Joss Whedon and James Gunn are a part of this Marvel world, but now this has me thinking that maybe they aren't the auteurs or singular minded directors we think they are? ?
    Just makes me lose even more faith in the studio system than I already had. Ugh.

  • Paul Hennen

    Well as long as Shane Black isn't allowed to direct, I'm not worried too much. A shame Edgar Wright isn't directing, I think he'd have a more unique vision than most, but the film can still easily be very good.
    Or maybe they fired him cause they made Ant-Man fake...joking but seriously Shane Black directed the worst Marvel "phase" movie by far. "You will never see me coming." Yep, no one saw that crap coming.

    • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

      It's clear you don't like Shane Black, but for me, Iron Man 2 is by far the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.