‘Ant-Man and the Wasp:’ Peyton Reed Teases the “Free-Standing Story”

     June 19, 2018

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Back in September 2017, I had the opportunity to visit the Atlanta, Georgia set of Ant-Man and the Wasp. You can check out a full rundown of the “things to know” from the visit right here, but right now we’re putting the spotlight on director Peyton Reed. Remember when all hope was seemingly lost when Edgar Wright exited the first Ant-Man back in May 2014? Well, it turns out, Reed was a rock solid replacement and ushered Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a film packed with heart, humor and an abundance of very clever set-pieces putting Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) shrinking technology to use. But now the question is, can he do it again? There’s tons of pressure on any new MCU installment but this is the first film after the game-changing Avengers: Infinity War.

We’ve got to wait until July 6th to see if Reed and his team pulled it off, but for now, we’ve got a ton of Ant-Man and the Wasp story details for you, straight from Reed himself. He addressed the pressure of following up Infinity War and also offered up some information on the main villain of the film, how the events of Captain America: Civil War affect Scott, Hank and Hope (Evangeline Lilly), he shares some information on Laurence Fishburne’s character, Bill Foster, and also teases the importance of the mission to track down Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the story. You can read about all of that and much more in the interview below.

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Image via Marvel Studios

Why’d you go with Cherry Blue for the production title?

PEYTON REED: Cherry Blue is a nod to a Tim and Eric sketch where Dr. Steve Brule’s going to buy a car. Do you know the sketch? And he wants a cherry red car and they only have cherry blue so for some reason that … It felt like something you’d see with the logo spray-painted on the side of a van. For some reason it felt appropriate.

And the Paul [Rudd] connection to Tim and Eric.

REED: Exactly, yeah. But just, it felt right for the vibe of our movie.

Can you talk a little bit about the idea of making it a ticking clock story? We keep hearing “one crazy night.”

REED: In terms of when we first started talking about what Ant-Man and the Wasp would look and feel like, and the kind of movie we wanted to make, I definitely started talking about things like After Hours and Midnight Run, and these things where there’s a lot of forward momentum. There’s almost a road movie quality to the movie in that way.

The first movie, because it was an origin story, a lot of it took place in Hank Pym’s house and these things, and I just wanted to open the movie up and get out and take advantage of San Francisco because that felt like a different texture for the MCU that Ant-Man sort of occupies this corner of the universe and we wanted to really get outside and explore those elements.

And the urgency was really about trying to graph this idea of sort of a search-and-rescue movie onto that, where there was this ticking clock and for whatever scientific reasons, if they were going to go, perhaps, look for Janet van Dyne, how do you go about doing that? It’s an impossible thing scientifically, but also if there’s urgency and there’s maybe a window of time they have to do it. It’s about collecting the people, the things, everything they need to do that.

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Image via Marvel Studios

The first movie, really, the template was more of a heist movie and this wanted to be a little more of like an Elmore Leonard vibe where we have villains, but we also have antagonists, and we have these roadblocks to our heroes getting to where they need to be, and getting what they need for this mission. It felt like this sort of, little more chaotic comedy and action in the movie felt like a good next step for Ant-Man and the Wasp. And, I also really like that when you’re doing a sequel or a next movie, I always like the ones where the starting off point, the jumping off point for the characters is different than when you left them. And again, I know that everyone who’s ever made a second installment of something refers to The Empire Strikes Back as the gold standard, but as a kid, I was 16 when that movie came out, and I loved that they really leapt ahead. The heroes are somewhere else now and the audience has to kind of catch up to what’s going on and what happened, and they’re forwarded in terms of their character, but also in terms of their circumstances and that felt like something we really wanted to do.

It also felt like because of what happened with Scott Lang in the brief time he’s in Civil War, we couldn’t ignore those circumstances and for our jumping off point, my first questions were – what did Hank and Hope know about Scott going off and dealing with that situation with The Avengers and did they know about it? How did they feel about it? And surely this would’ve caused some kind of tension at worst and rift at best between the characters because Hank Pym’s very clear in the first movie about how he feels about Stark and how he feels about The Avengers and being very protective of this technology that he has. So that seemed like a really ripe sort of place to start in terms of character development.

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Image via Marvel Studios

What we see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe compared to most other franchises is that, we’ve not only seen Civil War, but we will see a lot of other events happen within this universe. How do you wind up working that into what you’re doing here?

REED: As I said, we definitely had to deal with the ramifications post Civil War. That was crucial to Scott. And crucial to Hope. I mean it really is like fundamental in the jumping off point about what’s going on between the two of them at the start of this movie. Outside of that, what I’m really happy about is, we’re free to tell sort of our free-standing story. Once we establish that as the leaping off point, this thing is going on over here with huge personal stakes and huge other stakes that are really separate of what’s going on with Infinity War. So that again is something that was really, really, appealing to me. We have enough stuff to track in this movie without having to sort of keep up with the rest of what’s going on with that.

Can you talk about the challenges of having to essentially share a ball with this neighboring production, [Avengers 4]?

REED: Scheduling wise, you know, it’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we knew was going to be there. It’s made easier obviously by the fact that we’re all down here on this Pinewood campus, all working together. So there’s, you know, behind the scenes shuffling and scheduling stuff but so far, it hasn’t impacted us. I know in October there’s some big dates coming up for Paul but so far, it’s been fine. So far, I have not felt the impact of the other movie.

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Image via Marvel Studios

You know, for the first movie, we came out in the wake of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was, you know – that was the sequel to Avengers! It’s Age of Ultron! So we could kind of be working in this little corner, and it feels the same way again because now we’re coming out right after Infinity War. And again, I like that. I personally feel that’s the position I want to be in. I mean, it’s good.

Can you talk about the responsibility and urge to boost Hope’s character and The Wasp, and make it a two-hander, give her agency, and kind of show who she is without Ant-Man and without her dad?

REED: Absolutely. That was something that again, from the get-go, particularly when we decided that this movie was going to be Ant-Man and The Wasp – it’s not Ant-Man with The Wasp, it’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. And so it is important to tell those stories separately and invest in each of the character’s journey and arc in the movie.

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