Although the Ant-Man franchise is about to become a trilogy with director Peyton Reed, Wright has a long history with the franchise thanks to being lined up to direct the first film years ahead of its release. He had written up a script and story for Ant-Man before the MCU even officially began, but due to creative differences, he left the project in 2014 while Reed replaced him.
Wright was ultimately still credited for the story and screenplay for Ant-Man, as the movie utilized a number of the plot elements that he spent years developing for the last solo movie of Phase 2, which brought Paul Rudd's hero into the spotlight.
And now, nearly a decade after that unfortunate situation forced Wright to leave the MCU, one of his closest partners opened up with more details about what went down between the two parties.
The Story Behind Edgar Wright's Departure From Ant-Man
Speaking on The Playlist podcast, Ant-Man writer Joe Cornish shared new information explaining why director Edgar Wright left the MCU project in 2014. Cornish was writing the movie with Wright when they directed the project, leading to both of them being credited for the story and screenplay.
Cornish first started working with Wright around the time that Ang Lee's Hulk debuted in 2003, long before the MCU was even brought up as a theory. This was at a time when superhero movies weren't nearly as popular as they are today, largely since "VFX hadn’t evolved to the point" where the comic stories could be accurately depicted on the big screen:
"When Edgar and I first met Marvel, they were in offices above a BMW showroom in Beverly Hills. It was around the time of Ang Lee’s 'Hulk,' and [Jon] Favreau hadn’t even started working on the first 'Iron Man.' Superhero movies were not a thing... I guess because VFX hadn’t evolved to the point where they could put what was on page on the screen. So, they always felt like they were reaching for something they couldn’t achieve."
The two worked on Ant-Man for the better part of eight years, during which time "audiences fell in love with superhero movies" as the technology used to make them evolved and grew into something better than past eras:
"We worked on ['Ant-Man'] for something like eight years, on and off. And in that time, the landscape changed completely. The technology changed completely. Audiences fell in love with superhero movies. All the stuff that people loved in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s in comic books were suddenly translated on screen in a really direct way that had never happened before."
In the end, the dissonance came when the MCU expanded into the massive interconnected story that's made it so popular since first kicking off in 2008.
Cornish explained that "Edgar Wright makes Edgar Wright movies" while Marvel wanted to build on the franchise's success by adding more interconnected stories, and Wright was intent on telling the Ant-Man story his own way, leading to his departure:
"That kind of overtook us in the sense that Marvel didn’t necessarily want the authored movie that Edgar and I wanted to make because, at that point, they had this behemoth on their hands. They had this universe where the movies had to integrate. Edgar is an auteur. Edgar Wright makes Edgar Wright movies. In the end, that’s why it didn’t happen, I guess."
Thankfully, Cornish doesn't have any hard feelings toward Marvel over the separation, noting that "a lot of (their) stuff is still in there" and that he really enjoys the movie. He explained that Edgar Wright's footprints are still all over that movie thanks to Wright being involved with casting and designs, and he can see Wright's influence all throughout the story:
"Having said that, a lot of our stuff is still in there, and I really like that movie.We’re as excited as anybody to see where it goes next. We feel connected to that cast as well because Edgar cast it. The designs are still in it. There are still a couple of little Edgar Wright ants scuttling around invisibly in those movies."
Wright himself also noted that there is no animosity between him and Marvel and that the two parties have reconnected with one another in the time since their separation.
The Movie Edgar Wright Never Got To Make
After being part of one of the biggest mysteries behind the MCU's development, these quotes seem to clear up why Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios ended their work together on Ant-Man before it was made. Even considering how passionate Wright was about the character, he was just as passionate about telling Scott Lang's story the way he envisioned it rather than having to connect it to a larger universe the way Marvel Studios was doing with the MCU.
This story would have put Scott Lang in a much more standalone movie rather than connecting the way it did to the rest of the greater MCU, even though it was the first solo movie for the hero. In the final cut, Lang interacted with Anthony Mackie's Falcon and helped Hank Pym steal Tony Stark's technology from the Avengers facility in upstate New York - even the beginning of the movie had its MCU ties, with Hank Pym working alongside Peggy Carter and Howard Stark at SHIELD.
While Wright and Marvel may not reunite with each other for another project, Wright has shown support for the MCU in both the Inifinity Saga and the Multiverse Saga, highlighted by commentary on projects like 2021's Eternals. And while his departure from Ant-Man is unfortunate, the franchise lives on and is about to become one of the most important stories in the Multiverse Saga thanks to Kang the Conqueror's true introduction in the next movie.