MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Marvel almost made an Ant-Man film in the 1980s to compete with Disney's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
In 2009, Marvel Entertainment was purchased by the Walt Disney, Co. and one of the main reasons behind the purchase was that Disney wanted to monetize Marvel's intellectual property for motion pictures (as Marvel Studios had already established the previous year that it could be a real player in the world of films as an independent film producer of films based on its own properties).
A similar thing had actually happened in the 1980s when New World Communications Group also purchased Marvel Entertainment for a similar reason. The big difference, however, was that New World was a relatively small film company and they really had no idea what to do with the characters that they had just purchased. You have to remember, at this point in time, the film technology available just did not allow anyone outside the biggest studios to be able to make a reasonable approximation of a superhero movie. Therefore, the strategy for YEARS at this point had been to lean into that and play up the camp aspect of the characters.
Thus, when New World purchased Marvel and started to try to develop the characters, they were looking for hooks on, like, wacky depictions of superheroes or films that would mock the concept of superheroes. Stuff like that.
One of the few films they actually produced before selling Marvel in 1989 was a Punisher movie that did not even have the distinctive Punisher skull uniform. Think about that you - you just purchased Marvel and had the rights to do nearly any character (a few characters like Spider-Man and Captain America had their rights tied up to other studios) and your only release was "Hey, how about Punisher just without the comic book elements? You know, so just like every other direct-to-video action film of the era!"
Someone at Marvel who loved the idea of the new bosses was Stan Lee, who had been (mostly unsuccessfully) trying to get Marvel characters turned into movies since the late 1970s. He would often pitch his new bosses on movie ideas and one of the ones that he kept coming back to was, oddly enough, Ant-Man.
In his great book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe tells how Lee actually got them to bite on an Ant-Man movie at one point, when New World CEO Robert Rehme walked in on Lee in a meeting with other New World executives:
"Lee said, "We were just talking about Ant-Man!"
"He can shrink down like . . . this!"
Rehme thought for a minute. Disney was about to make Teenie Weenies. If New World rushed Ant-Man into production, no one would ever know who had the idea first.
"That’s brilliant!" Rehme said.
Vroop! He was out of the room, and Ant-Man went into development.
Of course, the issue was that New World was dealing with some money issues at the time (basically over-extending themselves), so Disney's shrinking down movie, Teenie Weenies, got to market first in 1989, under its new title, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids...
Once they were clearly not going to beat Disney to market, the idea was dropped.
I can't even imagine what a 1988 Ant-Man movie from New World would look like. It would probably be a slapstick comedy, right?
The legend is...
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