Recent news of the untitled Han Solo movie losing directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller towards the tail end of its production has brought to mind another recent high-profile “creative difference” between filmmaker and studio: Ant-Man and Edgar Wright. The Scott Pilgrim vs. the World writer-director had been working on the script for the Marvel Studios film with Joe Cornish off and on for several years until, after completing his brilliant Cornetto Trilogy-capper The World’s End, it came time to actually make the movie.
But as filming was months away, after Wright had already cast the majority of the picture, word broke that Wright was leaving the project over creative differences with Marvel Studios. Marvel regrouped, kept most of Wright’s cast, and hired director Peyton Reed to take over with Paul Rudd and Adam McKay rewriting the script. The finished film is fine, but it’s a far cry from the singular vision of an Edgar Wright film.
Wright landed on his feet, and with his latest effort—the critically acclaimed Baby Driver—hitting theaters next week, he’s hit the press circuit. And while appearing on Variety’s Playback podcast with Kristopher Tapley, Wright reflected on his Ant-Man exit and explained—in the most diplomatic of ways—what went down:
“I think the most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie. It was a really heartbreaking decision to have to walk away after having worked on it for so long, because me and Joe Cornish in some form—it’s funny some people say, ‘Oh they’ve been working on it for eight years’ and that was somewhat true, but in that time I had made three movies so it wasn’t like I was working on it full time. But after The World’s End I did work on it for like a year, I was gonna make the movie. But then I was the writer-director on it and then they wanted to do a draft without me, and having written all my other movies, that’s a tough thing to move forward thinking if I do one of these movies I would like to be the writer-director. Suddenly becoming a director for hire on it, you’re sort of less emotionally invested and you start to wonder why you’re there, really.”
Indeed, Wright’s films are meticulously crafted at a foundational screenplay level, so when he gets on set and starts shooting he knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. But Marvel was looking to get some of its in-house talent to do a draft and see if they could address some of their notes, which understandably didn’t fly with Wright—at that point it would have ceased to be “An Edgar Wright Film” through and through.
As heartbreaking as this was—and frustrating, given that Wright was thisclose to making a movie—the filmmaker reveals that the exit paved the way for Baby Driver to become a reality:
“The good thing that came out of it is I got to kind of move on to [Baby Driver], which was a script that I had already written. And maybe one of the ironies about it is I had thought in the back of my head, ‘Well if the Marvel movie does well, maybe I’ll have enough muscle to get Baby Driver made,’ and so it’s ironic I guess that I didn’t make that movie and got Baby Driver made, and with a studio, which for an original movie is very rare. And the other important thing for me is almost the entirety of my crew who were gonna do that movie sort of left in solidarity, so it was really important to me to get another film going so I could kind of re-employ them all. So the funny thing about Baby Driver is it pretty much features all the [Heads of Department] who were gonna do the other movie with me.”
I’ll admit one of the things I was most excited about for Wright’s Ant-Man was seeing what cinematographer Bill Pope would bring to the MCU, but it’s heartening to see that the two were able to move on to the wholly unique Baby Driver, which by all accounts is incredible. Is it June 28th yet?