What really happened behind the scenes of Ant-Man

No one would've thought a lower-tier comic book character could cause a behind-the-scenes melee, but that's what happened with Ant-Man. Marvel's minuscule man of action led to the collaboration and falling out of the House of Ideas and auteur Edgar Wright. While most of the fighting remains behind the scenes, some of the sub-atomic dirt has become macroscopic enough to be compiled here. Enjoy.

Stan Lee pitches his idea

Development for Ant-Man actually began in the late '80s, which is surprising because he's always been kind of a B-list character. Back then, Stan "The Man" Lee pitched the movie to Marvel's then parent company New World Entertainment, according to Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. New World passed on it because Disney was developing their Rick Moranis-starring epic Honey, I Shrunk the Kids around that time, and they didn't think releasing a similar movie would be a good idea. (My, how Hollywood has changed!) It's funny that the reason nothing came of Ant-Man back then is the reason there's an Ant-Man now.

Howard Stern makes a bid

Ant-Man also almost happened again around the year 2000, when Howard Stern, of all people, attempted to purchase the movie rights from Marvel. While interviewing Ant-Man star Paul Rudd on his show in July 2015, Stern said, "I tried to buy the rights to Ant-Man because I said that's a cool franchise." What the King of All Media planned to do with the minuscule Avenger remains unknown, but rest assured, it would've probably been pretty crazy.

Edgar Wright is hired to direct

In 2003, things got serious. Edgar Wright wrote an Ant-Man treatment that eventually got him hired by Marvel Studios, according to SuperHeroHype. Around that time, Wright had a huge financial and critical success co-writing and directing Shaun of the Dead, which was made with a pretty modest budget. The pairing of a daring director with the Wright touch and what was considered one of Marvel's lamer characters seemed like a no-brainer. If anyone was going to make Ant-Man cool, it was Edgar "Let's Do It" Wright.

Wright's approach

Wright wanted to merge the stories of Marvel Comics' two Ant-Men, Hank Pym and Scott Lang. From what Wright told SuperHeroHype, his idea was to make a movie where Tales to Astonish meets Elmore Leonard, with some retro sci-fi thrown it. Marvel okayed Wright's plan and had him compose a script. Nothing could go wrong, right?

Excitement builds, but trouble brews

Unofficial promotions for Ant-Man began after Wright announced at Comic-Con in 2006 that he'd be writing and directing the movie. At one point, Stan Lee tweeted that he'd met with Wright to talk about the character. At another time, Wright went ahead and shot some test footage that he shared at Comic-Con in 2012, which was met with approval by /Film and CinemaBlend, among other viewers. The general consensus was that Wright's ideas meshed well with the rest of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Around this same time, however, troubles were brewing with the script. Not only did Wright come up with one draft of the script, he came up with three by 2011. That's usually not a good sign.

Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are cast

By the end of 2013, the hype machine was on full-steam ahead. Wright began sharing Ant-Man-related pics on his Twitter account. Paul Rudd and Oscar-winner Michael Douglas were cast as Scott Lang and Hank Pym, respectively. With high-caliber names like those attached to the project, there was no way it could fail. And while it ultimately didn't, that doesn't mean it breezed into theaters without any problems. In fact, problems were about to gain giant proportions.

The script needs another re-write

Not long after Rudd and Douglas were cast, Wright handed in a fifth draft of the script. (An even worse sign than the previous three.) It seemed Marvel didn't think Wright's vision meshed so well with the rest of their movies. In addition to that, Marvel asked for outside help with the script, according to Vulture. The House of Ideas had someone work on a draft without Wright's input, which isn't really the best way to treat a director. As a result, Wright was none too pleased.

Wright leaves the project

On May 23, 2014, Marvel and Wright each issued statements saying they separated due to "differences of vision," according to Variety. The split is said to have been amicable. At the writing of this piece, no details as to what the differences really were have come to light.

Disappointment and despair

Wright's departure didn't go unnoticed by the cast. Hollywood-heavyweight Michael Douglas let his thoughts on the matter be known. He told Schmoes Know, "I was very disappointed—I don't think anybody's quite recovered. My heart goes out to Edgar. He's been involved with the project for a long time." Evangeline Lilly, on the other hand, almost didn't sign on to the movie. The Lost alum told Innerspace she "kind of held off from signing my contract" as she didn't know what was going to happen with the project. Smart move.

Adam McKay enters the project and leaves

With Edgar Wright in the quantum realm, Marvel needed a new director. They hired funnyman Adam McKay, who jumped at the chance to direct and just as quickly left the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As we all know, Peyton Reed wound up directing the film, and it went on to be a box-office success. But just because production wrapped didn't mean all the smoke had cleared.

Joss Whedon throws in his two cents

Joss Whedon's lack of love for Marvel is well documented from his own experiences with them. Therefore, his commenting on the Wright-Marvel situation comes as no surprise. Around the time of Age of Ultron's release, he told Buzzfeed, "I thought the script was not only the best script that Marvel had ever had, but the most Marvel script I'd read." Though not explicit, you don't need a microscope to see Whedon's displeasure. For his part, Edgar Wright kept quiet about the whole thing.