‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ EP Teases Ant-Man, Giant-Man and “Variable-Man”

     June 22, 2018

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We’ve published a ton of Ant-Man and the Wasp set visit coverage throughout the week, but now it’s time to wrap things up with one final interview – perhaps the most detailed of all – our chat with executive producer Stephen Broussard. Not only did Broussard quickly catch us up on all the basics before jumping into a whole day’s worth of exploring the set and conducting cast and crew interviews, but he also offered up additional insight on the tone and style of the film, Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s place in the MCU, going even deeper into the quantum realm and loads more. You can read about all of that in the full set visit interview below!

Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on July 6th and once again puts the spotlight on Paul Rudd‘s Scott Lang. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott is determined to become a law-abiding citizen and be a better father to his daughter. But, when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) come calling, Scott has to suit up again and help them with a very important mission, one that sees Hope finally following in the footsteps of her mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), and taking on the mantle of the Wasp.

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Image via Marvel Studios

STEPHEN BROUSSARD: We’re about almost halfway through here at Pinewood Atlanta. And yeah, I guess I’ll fill you in kind of on the broadest strokes of the story so far where we are, you know? Ant-Man and the Wasp, the last time we saw Scott Lang was in Civil War. He had gotten wrapped up in his adventure with Captain America, and where that film left off, you might recall he was put in a secret underwater prison and the film indicated that he had been broken out at the end. So our film would sort of pick up after that. And the sort of in-between story that we’re telling, the backstory that would assume when this movie starts would be that Scott, being a family man, well established in the first film, and sort of feeling like he got in over his head in this adventure during Civil War, basically said, ‘Not for me. No thanks, I don’t want to go on this adventure,’ went and sort of plead down a plea bargain out of this misunderstanding he got himself in. And as a part of the terms of that, was basically put under house arrest.

So when the film opens, he’s under house arrest. He has an ankle bracelet, he can’t leave his apartment, he’s living with Luis (Michael Peña) and he’s just trying to stay on the straight and narrow for these last few hours and then it’s all, he’ll be a free man, right? Free to live his life, to be a father to his daughter but of course, you wouldn’t have a movie if something didn’t come crashing down, and this adventure sort of coming barreling into it. The film was kind of conceived, you know, the first film was a heist film, right? It was kind of this crime movie. And we liked that the Ant-Man franchise kind of lives in this crime adjacent world, you know? So a lot of the films that we started talking about, just as inspiration and kind of how we wanted to approach it and how we wanted to do something new the same way. A heist movie felt new to the MCU. I don’t really know if it’s like a genre unto itself, but movies that I’ve always kind of called one bad night. Where something just goes terrible and just kind of spirals out of control. After Hours is a great touchstone. I like Go. I love that one. Go‘s a great movie. Adventures in Babysitting for the lighter fare kind of thing. And it just kind of feels like, it started so simple, but then it kind of just goes up and up and up and you have a character trying to race to put it all back in the box before they get caught kind of thing. The circumstances of that house arrest gave us a great framework for that.

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Image via Marvel Studios

Hank and Hope come in and sort of scoop him up on this journey and he’s kind of out of bounds, not where he should be trying to keep that part of his life from getting caught, but also trying to help them with this adventure. I’m a big Elmore Leonard fan, you know, in the way that there’s all these sort of colorful characters kind of colliding with one another. That feels kind of crime adjacent, to use that term again. And so we kind of wanted to populate this movie with a lot of antagonists, not so much people that are like villains or super villains, but obstacles in the way that have their own agendas and their own journeys. They’re not trying to take over the world but they’re clearly standing in the way of our heroes. Elmore Leonard was such a master at that. The Get Shorty‘s of the world, just everybody’s sort of in a circle trying to get somewhere else and just colliding in the middle. And that was a huge inspiration for kind of the tone and the framework of where this movie could go.

And then to just talk a little bit about what’s on the wall and what you’re going to see later today, I mean, obviously beyond anything I’ve said already, the key to an Ant-Man movie is shrinking and how fun that is. The first movie spent a lot of time setting up that technology as an idea that it could exist and introducing Scott to it. So this movie kind of tries to just run with that and just kind of expand it to all sorts of fun crazy ways and new ideas. Also inheriting the great stuff that Giant-Man did in Civil War, so shrinking and growing. So the set we’re gonna go on today, we call it Hank’s Lab or Hank’s Shrinking Lab. And basically what it is, it’s kind of a nondescript building, you’ll see in that first image behind you. Inside it looks pretty derelict and nondescript on the outside, inside is the set you’ll walk on today, which is kind of this state of the art Hank Pym designed technology that’s also made with a lot of found objects. So you’ll notice because he’s not a billionaire like Tony Stark, he has to kind of make do with resources that he has.

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Image via Marvel Studios

So how do you build a building sized space? You take small items and make them large. So you’ll see oversized objects like erector sets, the entire infrastructure of the place is based on erector set design. And it’s just one example of kind of taking the idea of things going big and small further. And in fact that whole building, because Hank and Hope, part of their backstory in this is that they’re on the run as well. Like post Sokovia Accords, someone knocked on their door and was like, ‘You’ve got to sign this contract, you’ve got to be under the Accords because you’re currently in violation of this thing we put in place in Captain America: Civil War.” Hank Pym being Hank Pym, who never wanted Stark to have his technology said, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ and sort of had to go underground a little bit.

So he built this as kind of like a mobile operation. So, you’ll walk in it, it’s huge, it’s this giant set here, but when it’s time to go, the whole building kind of can be mobile and move around. In fact it’s got like a little handle and squeaky wheels. And it’s just fun. It’s playing with the unexpectedness of scale, of kind of like never knowing where you are or at what size you are kind of thing. It’s just something, again, we only kind of scratched the surface with. That’s kind of the setup. I know that’s a lot of sort of backstory and everything, but that’s kind of like the point of entry for this movie, you know? Obviously goes in many fun and cool places, but I’ll leave it to you guys. Do you have specific questions? Or do you want me to delve into anything more? I’ll say whatever I can, spoilers not withstanding.

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Image via Marvel Studios

You mentioned it comes after Civil War. It sounds like it happens within one day. So I assume then, it’s gonna be before Infinity War?

BROUSSARD: It’s a little bit more than one day. But it’s kind of influenced by that. It’s a finite period of time, you know? Where it falls in the timeline, I kind of don’t want to say too much yet because it’s – I don’t know, just kind of like – I’d rather the movies be sequenced as they come out kind of thing. But we play with that a little bit.

Can you tell us about Laurence Fishburne’s character?

BROUSSARD: Yes. He’s Dr. Bill Foster, classic character from the books. This version of him in the MCU is a colleague of Hank’s, that they used to work together and perhaps had a falling out, but in a time of need in this movie, Hank has to return to him and ask him for help.

Are we going to see him suit up potentially?

BROUSSARD: Maybe. Maybe, maybe. The idea would be that perhaps they had worked together in the past, you know, on a lot of projects. Including some of the shrinking and growing tech. How that plays into this story, I think would rather leave unsaid for the moment.

Can you talk about introducing the quantum realm in a bigger way for the sequel?

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Image via Marvel Studios

BROUSSARD: Yeah, sure. We’ve announced Michelle Pfeiffer obviously, so we know that Janet and the search for her and in the quantum realm is a part of the story, and that’s obviously kind of the adventure that Scott gets swept on is they’re looking for her and they need his help for a very specific reason. Again, another thing we just sort of barely scratched the surface of in the first movie. Kind of expanding on what that is, it’s like this really trippy, mind trippy place down there, as glimpsed in the first movie. But what does that mean? Like, how deep do you have to go? Does it change as you get deeper or come up? Is it a landscape? Is it just a weird thing where your mind can’t handle it?

So we’ve kind of dug into that a little bit more and tried to define it for what it needs to be for the film and for the story that Janet is experienced down there a little bit, because it’s such a huge part of it. Does time operate differently down there? All these sort of weird questions that are on the forefront of the actual science if you dig into it, which can be very dense. It’s kind of an open book. Obviously it’s the MCU version of what’s down there, but in a lot of ways we’re almost approaching it at like, interplanetary in a weird way. You know what I mean? As if you could go down there and experience another world for instance, you know? And that if you kept going maybe you’d find other things or if you came back up it would be completely different at this level. It’s a new frontier sort of, so to speak. It’s kind of a fun new door to kick open at MCU.

Has she been aging that whole time? How did she eat? How did she stay alive?

BROUSSARD: Yeah, we will definitely get into all those questions. That’s part of the questions that our heroes have. The mission so to speak is kind of this wing and a prayer. This mission of faith, that they’re hoping she’s down there kind of thing as they go on it and they have those same questions. What has life been like for her?

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Image via Marvel Studios

Is she all there? She’s been alone for like 30 years.

BROUSSARD: Excellent questions. [Laughs]

Has she shot already?

BROUSSARD: No, not yet. She’ll be in the back half of our schedule.

What’s the look of that going to be like? As you explain it, I’m picturing the dark dimension.

BROUSSARD: Yup. Won’t be quite as blacklight, bioluminescent as that. We’re still playing with it. There’s some early concept behind you, none of which is completely accurate. A lot of explorations. But it should feel – if we do go down there it’s scenes you know that you have to have – it can’t be a black void, right? You had a little bit in the first film, so it’s got to be landscape-y, but how do you make it still feel at scale? How do you make it feel microscopic with the camera treatments and the relationships of the horizon and stuff like that. Figuring all that out has been a bit of a head trip, but it’s pretty cool. It can’t just feel like, I don’t know, it’s not Lawrence of Arabia, it’s not a giant desert because that triggers scale cues in your head, but you still have to kind of feel that it would be scale appropriate if you were down there, and finding that balance between the small and the epic I guess has kind of been the challenge.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the antagonists in the film?

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Image via Marvel Studios

BROUSSARD: Sure, yes. So I can’t tell you too much, which I know can be frustrating, but let me – Hannah John-Kamen has been announced for playing a new interpretation of Ghost, which was a classic character created by Bob Layton, which was primarily an Iron Man villain based on more technology that was tech based. He had this suit in the comics. Traditionally in the comics, Ghost was a character of mystery. You didn’t really know the alter ego of that person, you didn’t know their real name. We thought that was a cool opportunity to create a character that was all about mystery, and kind of what the origins, what is the backstory, what is the goals and agendas of this person, was a great vehicle for the story we wanted to tell because Ghost, in the comics itself was a mystery. So very different from what has come before in the comics, but in ways that kind of – sorry if I feel like I’m hedging my bets. [Laughs] I’m just trying to police myself here. Suffice it to say that she is on a path and she is on a mission at odds with our heroes on this journey, but of a similar goal, of a similar aim at the worst possible time for Scott Lang.

Does she have any sort of suit that has the tech? Invisibility and stuff like that?

BROUSSARD: Yeah, the power set is the same and the look is actually pretty classic, reinterpretation. Not reinterpretation but like modernization. I think our design team, our original development team, which maybe some of you have met if you were at the open house in Burbank a while back, does a great job I think of sticking to the classic tropes – what they look like in the books and sort of actually going, ‘Oh, that’s a pretty good realization of what that might look like in the real world.’ And certainly that’s the case with Ghost who is, when you think of Ghost, you think of the hood, you think of the white suit and everything like that. And Hannah wears it very well. She’s awesome. She’s really, really badass.

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Image via Marvel Studios

I wanted to ask about Pym Particle usage because we’ve seen Giant-Man, we’ve seen Ant-Man. Are they going to be playing with the in-between sizes as well?

BROUSSARD: Yeah, a little bit. What we’ve been calling, it’s not the most exciting name, but we refer to internally as “variable man,” you know? [Laughs] Either by design or by mistake. So much of the fun of this is when it works it’s cool, and sometimes when it’s not working it’s just as much fun to watch. Again, playing with what I said earlier, kind of running with the idea of, we’ve established it as a concept, now how do you keep twisting it and turning it on it’s head? And messing with it a little bit. So there’s a little bit of that.

The ants going to be back?

BROUSSARD: Ants are definitely back, for sure.

Can you tell us about the home security consulting business?

BROUSSARD: Sure, that’s sort of where we find our heroes at the beginning. So, post Ant-Man we had a group of lovable, ex-cons, trying to do one last score and kind of getting a taste of the hero life. Post Ant-Man, they’re kind of trying to go legit basically. And what’s happened is, Luis, Curt and Dave and Scott when he gets out, have started a business called Ex-con Home Security. Who better to protect your house than ex-convicts? And that’s kind of the brass ring waiting for Scott if he can survive this movie. He’s like, ‘If I get out, if I get out of house arrest, if I keep my nose clean, I got a real job, I’m starting a business, everything’s going to be great, and it’s another kind of goal, desire finish line for him that’s complicated by the events of this movie.

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Image via Marvel Studios

Anybody going to be dropping by from other parts of the MCU?

BROUSSARD: Nothing announced currently, so no. It’s kind of standalone movie, you know. Much like the first Ant-Man … it’s contained. Temporally, as I said, but just kind of story-wise it feels very, it’s like a San Francisco crime movie with weird sci-fi elements, which is fun.

For even more from our Ant-Man and the Wasp set visit, you can browse the links below:

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