BPS 119: Screenwriting in the Studio System Marvel to Spielberg w/ Joe Corn

Alex Ferrari • June 8, 2021

Have you ever  wondered what it is like screenwriting inside the Marvel and Studio machine? Wonder no further, today we have screenwriter and director Joe Cornish. Joe was one of the writer’s on Marvel’s Ant-Man. The English comedian and filmmaker burst onto the scene in 2011 with his very successful film directorial debut, Attack The Block, starring John Boyega, who played Moses, a low-level crook, teenage gang leader, an orphan looking for respect around the block. The British sci-fi comedy horror film centers on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves and their block from predatory alien invaders on Guy Fawkes Night.

Cornish and his comedy partner, Adam Buxton form the successful duo, Adam & Joe an ironic pop culture sketch show which gained a lot of success in the UK alongside Cornish’s long-term work in the UK TV entertainment industry. 

In 2011 he joined iconic directors, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg as a writer for the screenplay and story for the 3D animated action-adventure film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn — co-written alongside Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat.

Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

This $135 million budget film grossed $374 million at the box office and received a plethora of nominations including Oscars for Best Original Score, a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, two BAFTA nominations for Best Animated Film and Best Special Visual Effects.

Cornish co-wrote the screenplay for the Marvel Comic character, Ant-Man, along with Wright, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd in 2015. 

Rudd, starring as Ant-Man is armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.  Similar to most Marvel Studio movies, the film carried a big budget of $169.3 million and grossed $519.3 million.

His latest film, The Kid Who Would Be King (2019), which was written undirected by Cornish, joins a band of kids who embarks on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.

Joe honestly, was extremely forthcoming and transparent about a lot of things; like what really happened behind the scenes on Ant-Man and what it’s like to write inside the Marvel machine, working with filmmaking legends like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. And we also discuss his craft, how he approaches screenwriting and directing, and much more.

Enjoy this conversation with Joe Cornish.