Following the epic punch (or snap) of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is no small feat, but that’s exactly what lay before director Peyton Reed with this summer’s ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, the follow-up to 2015’s ANT-MAN, which starred Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas. The MCU entry hits 4K/blu-ray/DVD next week and I had the opportunity to chat with Reed about the film now that its theatrical run is over. Reed talks about replicating the success of the first film, developing Evangeline Lilly‘s Wasp as a superhero, getting Michael Douglas suited up, coordinating with Marvel and the Russo Bros. to weave Ant-Man between INFINITY WAR and AVENGERS 4, what his feelings are for a third film and if he has ideas for it and, finally, if they are consciously developing Cassie Lang toward her comic-book persona of Stinger. Check it out!
Paul: You come from a comedy background and you’ve graduated into what some would argue is the big show, and have now done two entries in said big show. What’s it like being handed something like Ant-Man and being expected to deliver on it twice over?
Peyton: I think, for me, doing the Ant-Man movies was really my sweet spot, because as you said I came up doing comedy and comedic movies and I’ve always been a fan and wanted to do this type of movie. I mean, I was the sort of clichéd kid that grew up with Spielberg and those kinds of movies and always wanted to direct a movie like this and sort of held out for a while trying to find the right one and when the Ant-Man movies came along I really did jump at the chance because I wanted to do something that was more visual effects driven, but still comedic and something where it was just not a comedy-recording people being funny and telling jokes, but visual comedy and the direction could be complicit in the comedy.
So, for me tonally it really felt right and I think it’s one of the things Marvel is doing, amidst the many things they’re doing, but like really being able to do comedies on a big-budget studio level-there are not many opportunities out there for a director to do that and for that reason I’m thrilled about it.
Paul: The biggest change in Ant-Man and The Wasp is the addition of Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp in full costume and in action, which was a promise we were given at the end of the first film. And Lilly, like most stars that take on a superhero role, really embraced and owned it, but for your part as the director, what is it about her character that you really wanted people to walk away from?
Peyton: Well, I wanted to make sure that she was a dimensionalized hero and Evangeline and I worked really closely from the beginning, even when we started to formulate what the story was and just what Hope’s attitude toward being a hero was. Even though she’s the same character obviously, really talking about how that character has changed between the first movie and the second movie. She’s resolved the issues with her dad and so by the time she gets the suit she’s a fully-trained, really decisive, really smart and extremely capable hero who really doesn’t need a partner. And that started to become the core of our story, the circumstances of trying to rescue Janet required that Hank and Hope bring Scott back into it and they’re sort of this reluctant team and throughout the course of the movie hopefully the audience gets to see them build into a really capable team.
But, the main thing was really kind of doing honor to the character in the comics, but also trying to create a hero that sells a little bit different from some of the other heroes in the MCU and also to have fun with the very different personalities of Scott and Hope.
Paul: Michael Douglas is Hank Pym and he gets in on the action here and we dive way deeper into the microverse than ever before in discovering that Janet is still alive. Was it tough to get Michael into costume or was it something he was eager to do?
Peyton: I made a couple of promises to Michael Douglas after the first movie. One was that I was going to make him a little less of a walking exposition machine in the second movie so that he wasn’t just talking about Pym Particles and things like that, he was actually going to suit up and have some action. And I think it’s a promise I made good on. And, Michael, I think, loved the idea. I think one of the things maybe more unique to the Ant-Man movies than some of the other ones is that it’s the story of this generational hero story. You’ve got the original Ant-Man and Wasp and now you’ve got Scott and Hope. So, it was really fun to kind of see Michael, a guy who used to be the action hero, and now is sort of re-embracing that role in the movie, that was fun and I think he really was thrilled to do it.
Paul: Without going into spoilers, the film ends on a cliffhanger that leads directly into Avengers: Infinity War. Can you talk about working with the Russo Bros. and Marvel Studios and tying that in and if you had any input in helping shape Ant-Man’s journey post Ant-Man and The Wasp?
Peyton: Yeah, I think it’s kinda cool. The Russo Brothers and obviously Kevin Feige and (Christopher) Markus and (Stephen) McFeely, the writers on the Avengers movies, there’s a cool thing in that, y’know, movies like Ant-Man and The Wasp and Black Panther and Doctor Strange, all the other movies, they have their own character and obviously they tie into the larger narrative. But, there’s a cool back-and-forth in things that those guys will see, say, in Ant-Man 1, for example how Paul Rudd is playing the character of Scott Lang, and sort of taking that and figuring out how to weave that into the larger tapestry of the Marvel movies. So, there is a lot of give and take and as far back as the first Ant-Man movie, when I was in post, The Russo’s and Markus and McFeely came into the cutting room and I showed them a bunch of stuff with Ant-Man and it really did inform how they wrote for him for Civil War.
And obviously I had seen early, early cuts of Infinity War and knew how that movie ended and knew that it was something we couldn’t ignore in our movie, so then the task was on us to sort of figure out how we-if we do or don’t-and then if we decide to, how we weave that into the narrative of our movie without it overtaking our movie. It’s a really unique, creative position to be in as a director. I’ve done a bunch of studio movies before the Marvel movies; this is a very different thing. You’re teeing off of other movies while still trying to make your movie an absolute standalone enjoyable experience. I found it really fun and also really challenging.
Paul: Trilogies never seem to go out of style, so the question now is if you have a plan on a third film or if it’s something you’re keen on returning to?
Peyton: Well, I love the idea. The honest answer is we don’t know yet. In the run up to the next Avengers movie, so I think everything is being played close to the chest, so we really don’t know yet. But I do know is that if we are fortunate enough to do another one, we definitely have very clear ideas of what we want to do. Certainly, as we were working on the script for Ant-Man and The Wasp there were definite things that we talked about setting up in this movie to resolve in later movies, so we definitely have clear ideas of what we want to do, we’ll just have to see if we in fact get to do them. I’m very, very hopeful. It’s funny because I love the characters and I feel great ownership over the characters and even I feel slight jealousy when they appear in other people’s movies. I’m very hopeful, I’d love to be involved.
Paul: Abby Ryder Fortson who plays Cassie Lang in the film, is a character that later goes on to play Stinger in the comics. Is that something in your awareness when working on these films?
Peyton: Yeah, we’re all very aware that in the comics Cassie goes on to become a hero and really, in Ant-Man and The Wasp, you really start to see little bits of Scott’s personality in Cassie. The fact that Cassie covers for him to the FBI and that she’s very curious about what it’s like to be Ant-Man and what it’s like to shrink. Y’know, as they go through that cardboard maze at the beginning, that whole thing is Scott basically saying, “Okay, I can’t shrink you, I’m not Ant-Man anymore, but this is what it would be like.” She’s very curious about it. And, of course at the end of the movie at the drive-in theater she actually gets to shrink down in the car. We definitely set the seeds that she’s A) Curious about it and B) She does a kind of Scott Lang-esque move when she covers for him to the F.B.I. It’s something we definitely have in mind.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is now available on digital HD and flies onto 4K/Blu-Ray/DVD on Tuesday, October 16th. Preorder Here!