One of the great “What Ifs” in movie history is Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man. The Scott Pilgrim vs. the World filmmaker was attached to direct an Ant-Man movie for Marvel for as long as Jon Favreau had been involved with the first Iron Man, but as Wright finally moved into making Ant-Man a reality after finishing his underrated The World’s End, creative differences saw him departing the superhero project with mere months to go before filming. He had done most of the casting, written multiple drafts of the script with Joe Cornish, and had designed a number of set pieces at the time that he left, and fans everywhere were dismayed we wouldn’t be seeing an Edgar Wright Marvel movie after all.
Things ultimately worked out. Fans sparked to director Peyton Reed’s take on the franchise (he’s now developing Ant-Man 3) and Wright went and made one of his most ambitious films yet, Baby Driver. But this remains a curiosity of many (myself included), so when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige popped up in the latest issue of Empire Magazine, I was pretty surprised.
The latest issue of Empire is dedicated to the Greatest Cinema Moments of All Time and was the brainchild of Wright, who personally reached out to a bevy of famous friends to have them recount their most memorable theater-going experiences. Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jordan Peele, Bill Hader, and many more appear in the issue, but also appearing is Kevin Feige who fondly remembers seeing Aliens in the theater.
And speaking on a special episode of the Empire Podcast, Wright revealed that when he reached out to Feige, it was the first time the two had spoken since he left Ant-Man in 2014:
“I’ll be honest, I had not spoken to Kevin since I walked off Ant-Man in 2014. You know, there wasn’t any real animosity or outright hostility between us, it was all very diplomatic at the time, but in that situation you go your separate ways and there was no reason to get back in touch. So I just had never spoken to him or vice versa. Aside from the movie itself, we had been friends, so it was a sad thing – aside from the professional aspect of it, we had been good pals.”
But as Wright was putting together this Empire issue, he knew he couldn’t ignore Marvel – he specifically noted how fans on Twitter were pointing to Cap wielding Mjolnir, Hulk smashing Loki, and Black Panther as memorable theater moments – so he reached out to Feige, and the two ended up reconnecting in a really sweet way:
“I thought it would be disingenuous of me to get through this article without mentioning the ‘M’ word once. So I did what I hadn’t done in six years – I just emailed Kevin. It was a really nice thing, and Kevin was really touched that I’d reached out to him directly and just said, ‘Hey’. Also it was funny after six years of no contact to email him just saying, ‘Kevin, I need you to write something for me, and I need it tomorrow!’ (laughs). So it was nice, we basically reconnected over this article and it was very sweet.”
The specific details of Wright’s Ant-Man departure are still unclear, but it’s worth noting that at the time Feige was still reporting to Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, and the dreaded “Marvel Creative Committee” was still a thing that existed. Films like Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther were made under very different conditions.
Regardless, Wright says he’s happy he had a chance to reconnect with Feige, and even took the time to tell Feige that when he was on a call with James Cameron for the issue, he read him Feige’s piece on Aliens:
“I’m very glad I did it, and I was very happy that his response was so — he was really touched that I had reached out, and I feel what he wrote was great. I told him that I read what he’d said about Aliens to James Cameron, which he said was just wild. So it was nice, it’s a nice happy ending to that story.”
Wright just premiered his brilliant documentary debut The Sparks Brothers at Sundance and his thriller Last Night in Soho will be released in theaters this October, and he’s written a few drafts of Baby Driver 2, but beyond that we don’t quite know what his next project will be. Could this rekindling pave the way for a collaboration on a Marvel movie at some point? While I’m happy to keep watching original films from Wright, I’ll admit there’s a part of me that still really wants to see an Edgar Wright superhero blockbuster. Maybe someday…
“You mean this is like a clue from a real murder case? Cool!”
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