Marvel Studios has worked hard over the past decade to build and establish its cinematic universe -- whose most recent installment, Guardians of the Galaxy, continues to be successful at the international box office. With The Avengers: Age of Ultron next in line for release from Marvel Studios, followed by Ant-Man shortly thereafter, it would seem both are poised for success in the MCU. However, Ant-Man has had a long, and somewhat rocky road to the theater.
Although it began as Edgar Wright’s (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, At World’s End) project, the writer/director parted ways with Marvel and Ant-Man earlier this year. Soon after, it was rumored Adam McKay (Anchorman) would direct, but instead he signed on as a screenwriter while Peyton Reed (The Break-Up, Yes Man) took the helm. Now, McKay has revealed some of the work he put into rewriting Wright’s Ant-Man script.
In an interview with Collider, McKay explains how he became involved in Ant-Man -- Paul Rudd, who will star in the film, reached out to him after Wright’s departure -- as well as his process of rewriting the script with Rudd. Turning down the role of director was easy given his existing workload, but after further consideration, felt that he could "do a lot of good" by rewriting the script.
As for the process, McKay said he spent six to eight weeks with Rudd working on the rewrite, but gives plenty of the credit to Wright for the story that was already in place:
"I was really proud of what we did, I really thought we put some amazing stuff in there and built on an already strong script from Edgar Wright and sort of just enhanced some stuff."
In terms of what was added in particular, McKay surprisingly put emphasis on the film's action, split half and half between he and Wright in the final script (likely due to Wright’s departure occurring well into pre-production). Outside of the action, McKay and Rudd kept much of Wright’s original character development and some dialogue, but made the overall script a little “cleaner,” “bigger,” and “more aggressive”:
"We added some new action beats. I grew up on Marvel Comics so the geek in me was in heaven that I got to add a giant action sequence to the movie; I was so excited. So we did, we added some cool new action. There’s a lot that’s already in there from what Edgar did, there’s a lot of dialogue and character still in there… We just shaped the whole thing, we just tried to streamline it, make it cleaner, make it a little bigger, a little more aggressive, make it funnier in places—we just basically did a rewrite. Edgar had a really good script."
Although many fans, especially those that were more interested in Wright’s take on the story, were put off Ant-Man by the director’s departure from the project (especially since he was the one responsible for its existence at all) it seems McKay, with the help of Rudd, worked to maintain the essence of Wright’s original vision for the film.
Of course, the Ant-Man that will premiere in theaters next summer won’t be the same film it would have been if Wright had never left the project, but fans may be surprised by how much of the director’s signature still remains in the film. From McKay’s comments about rewriting the script, it may be more than fans were expecting -- or it may not.
However, even if Ant-Man does not interest fans of Wright, it will hopefully entertain the ever-growing audiences of Marvel movies. It's unclear just how much impact the film will have on the larger movie universe heading into the rumored Civil War crossover event, but the presence of "giant action sequences" implies it will at least fit in with the established heroes.
Ant-Man hits theaters July 17, 2015.