In Marvel’s Ant-Man, petty thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is put through the paces by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who designed a breakthrough suit which, when activated by something called the Pym Particle, can shrink the wearer to the size of a tiny burrowing insect. Not only is his physical training intense, but it also involves a complicated heist to retrieve a similar serum from Hank’s old company (and stop a potentially dangerous man from getting ahold of the shrinking serum). Like Iron Man before him, Ant-Man might be a character that you haven’t heard of. But very soon he’ll be one of your favorites.
Directed by Bring It On filmmaker Peyton Reed, from a script by Rudd, Adam McKay, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the movie is swift and riotously entertaining. Tonally, it’s similar to the anarchic fun of last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and it fits snugly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe without being overburdened with references or inside jokes (although, this being a Marvel movie, we implore you to sit through until the very end of the credits).
We got a chance to sit down with Reed and talk about the development of Ant-Man, keeping the scale purposefully small, and whether or not there’s room in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Ant-Man 2.
You had flirted with doing a Marvel movie before, but what made Ant-Man click for you?
Well as you said I’ve been dying to do one of these types of movies. Ant-Man, to me, felt like it played to a lot of my strengths—there was a strong comedic component to the movie, I’d known Paul Rudd for some time and always wanted to work with him but never had the chance, and I liked that Ant-Man is sort of an underdog in the comics but certainly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the comics, he’s a founding member of the Avengers but the Marvel Cinematic version of the Avengers left him behind. So now, in my own mind, we’re making all right in the universe, we’re going to restore Ant-Man to where he needs to be! I love the idea. When I talked to Kevin about the scripts that existed and what I wanted to do with the characters, we were really in sync.
Do you think there could be an Ant-Man 2 in the future?
It’s interesting, I think we were either prepping or shooting Ant-Man in Atlanta when Marvel had that big press event and announced their slate into the year 2089 or whatever. And it was all set in stone with these dates. But it was so early on that I didn’t think much about it. Then, of course, Spider-Man comes around and they shift some dates around that. I think there’s a certain amount of flexibility at Marvel. Listen, if we are lucky enough that our movie does well and there’s demand for a sequel, I would love to do it because I feel like there’s so much story to tell with these characters. I really felt like we were just scratching the surface with these guys.
The third act is uncharacteristically small for a Marvel movie, in a good way. Was that something that you fought for?
Well it was something that I felt really strongly about but so did Marvel. I think it was on everybody’s mind that this movie was going to follow Avengers: Age of Ultron and movies don’t get much bigger than that–cities are falling out of the sky! It felt like that was always part of the DNA of Ant-Man, it was just a more intimate story. But it seemed fitting to close out Phase 2 of the MCU on a smaller, more intimate level. It’s an origin story. Scott Lang doesn’t have superpowers and his one goal is that he wants to be a part of his daughter’s life.
Do you have any kind of extending guidance over where this character goes? Did they consult with you on Captain America: Civil War?
When we were cutting the movie, I invited the Russo Brothers and the writers into the cutting room, because they were working on the script. At that point we knew Ant-Man was going to be part of Civil War in some way, we just didn’t know how. I wanted them to see tone of the movie and I showed them the scene where Scott breaks into Pym’s house and all that and a couple of other scenes. I wanted to give them an idea of his character and I felt a real proprietary sense of that character. But I loved the cross talk and when they went to Atlanta to shoot, I would talk to Paul every day. I would be like, “What did you shoot? What are they doing?” I was like a concerned parent. But I love that the character will co-mingle with those established characters; it’s exciting to me.
Do you think that McKay and the rest of your collaborators would come back?
It was great. The process and spirit of making the movie is really important to me, to have a tone that’s fun is really important because everyone is working hard. I love McKay. I’d love him to come back and write and I’d love for him to come back and direct a movie in the Marvel Universe. I think that’s something that is bound to happen.
Ant-Man opens everywhere on Friday!