Walt Disney and Marvel Studios invited press to preview a trio of the extras available on the upcoming Ant-Man Blu-ray and download. The film’s director, Peyton Reed, and its Production Designer, Shepherd Frankel, joined the screening for a Q&A session. Reed, a self-described “[Marvel Comics] fan for his entire life” called the production a “dream come true” and reiterated how proud he was of the movie.
The preview began with a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film. Special attention was brought to the van used by Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) heist network and to the rigorous stunt and physical training Rudd endured for the role. The featurette gave an in-depth look at the film’s world and offered a small tease for the future of Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) in the next installment in the Ant-Man franchise, the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp.
A look at the movie magic used to create the shrinking effects was the second feature showcased, covering everything from the behavior of dust particles to quantum physics.
Finally, the audience was treated to a number of outtakes and bloopers, many of which were brought on by “Ant-Man/Scott Lang” himself, actor Paul Rudd, and Lang’s ex-con cohort, Luis (Michael Peña).
Ant-Man was in development for a number of years, most notably having changed directors. Peyton Reed was given the director’s chair following the exit of fan-favorite, Edgar Wright. In spite of this, the pressure of taking on Ant-Man did not phase Reed.
“I don’t think I felt any more pressure than I would on another movie. The pressure I felt was self-imposed by taking these characters I loved as a kid and putting them in a movie.”
The key to making it all make sense for an audience, explained Reed, was Paul Rudd. It was his ability to straddle the comedic and action elements that made the film’s action-comedy tone possible.
“We all knew the tone we were after. We wanted the movie and characters to be funny, but you have to take the hero and the powers seriously.” Reed further explained that when first considered, the powers and world of Ant-Man could easily come across as silly. “It’s showing an audience [Ant-Man’s powers are] not ridiculous, but here are some of the bad-ass way you can use these powers.”
The blooper reel can easily give the impression that the film has a high degree of comedy improvisation.
“Too much gets made of the improv stuff because Paul does improv and I came from the Upright Citizens Brigade,” said Reed. He was more than happy to allow some riffing, but Reed stressed that they tightly adhered to the script. To freewheel it is “a really dumb way to make the movie.”
Reed explained that the scenes and locations depicted when Ant-Man has shrunk down to an inch tall needed to feel “as photorealistic as possible” and noted the shift in scale allowed them to depict an otherwise mundane environment in a new and exciting way. He explained the film used a “macro crew” that photographed and built the environments depicted during these scenes. Frankel felt those environments were separate and real worlds, comparing them to the realms of Asgard in Thor and planets shown in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Reed felt as though the some of the psychedelic imagery shown in the Microverse prepared him for what new imagery is forthcoming in the sequel.
“The goal is to keep what we really liked for the characters in the first one, but to make it a much weirder movie.”
Reed added he was influenced by the psychedelic work done by Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, and Steve Ditko had done for Marvel Comics in 60’s and 70’s. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ken Russell’s Altered States provided Reed and the production team with additional inspiration for the sequence.
Frankel enjoyed the depiction of the character’s journey and how it differed from the other Marvel movies.
“I love the idea of going from the prison, to the Tenderloin - a gritty neighborhood in San Francisco - and how it shows Scott’s struggle to find a purpose. And then we go into 1989’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters. We go into this Victorian home with all these different levels and Pym’s laboratory. The visual journey is a very beautiful arc.”
He considers the Pym lab a “animal or a machine that’s devouring [the characters]” and wanted to make the world of Ant-Man a tactile thing existing in a science fiction world.
“From beginning frame to end frame, it’s such an exciting journey.”
One of the key elements of the film both Frankel and Reed enjoyed was tying Ant-Man into the greater Marvel movie universe. Frankel used the then under-construction S.H.I.E.L.D. Triskelion as the meeting place for a young Hank Pym, Howard Stark, and Agent Carter as a visual bridge. A physical confrontation between the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Ant-Man further cemented Ant-Man into the Marvel world.
When asked if the Falcon was the first choice for the shared character to be depicted in the movie, Reed mentioned others were considered, but ultimately the Falcon was selected because he felt the Ant-Man and the Falcon’s power-sets would be “visually a fun fight.” Characters like Iron Man or Thor were not considered as they were deemed too powerful and would easily defeat Ant-Man. Peyton teased that the Falcon’s defeat may play into the character’s future in upcoming films.
Regarding the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Reed said they are “starting the writing process” and that the film will be released on July 2, 2018. Now that the rules and environment have been established, the film is free to go to some “unexpected places.” One thing Reed is looking forward to exploring is the relationship between Ant-Man and Hope Van Dyne, the future Wasp.
“Part of thing that we’re going to explore, as shown in the comics, is how [the Ant-Man and Wasp] are such a great duo and partnership. Part of that, in any partnership, is how they relate to each other as people. Where will their personal relationship be at that point, and what will be their fighting style together?”
Ant-Man will be available on home video December 8.