After Avengers: Infinity War shattered hearts this past spring, Ant-Man and The Wasp is here to swoop in and glue those hearts back together. The film is described by head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige as the "something fun and warm-hearted." (And it actually is.) We could all use a little fun and warm-hearted joy in our lives right about now, wouldn't you say?
Mild spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp below.
SYFY FANGRRLS sat down with director Peyton Reed to talk about making Ant-Man and The Wasp so dang funny, how his partnership with The Wasp makes Ant-Man a less-reluctant hero, and how the events of Infinity War impacted the film.
My first question is really important. Will Michael Peña's character Luis ever get a suit? Because he mentioned that he really wanted one.
He definitely wants a suit. There were times early on when we were talking about versions of the script, when we talked about what the possibilities were for any of the guys in Scott Lang's life, Luis or Kurt or Dave, to get involved in the super heroics, and we realized as we were sort of whittling down the story and all the possibilities that we had enough story to tell with Ant-Man and Wasp and Ghost and all the characters. We know the desire is there, but anything can happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We'll see.
At what point in the process did you find out what was going to happen in Avengers: Infinity War? And knowing this would be released right after that, did it impact the film at all?
Well, we knew really early on what was gonna happen in Infinity War, but we also knew that Ant-Man and The Wasp wanted to be a standalone movie as it could, kind of in the way that the first one was. It's something that we all like, that it takes place in this little corner of the MCU in San Francisco and it really is about the Pyms and the Van Dynes and Scott Lang and that family story. We knew that we were gonna have to deal with not only the events of Ant-Man but with [Captain America] Civil War. We couldn't ignore what happened with Scott Lang in that movie and it gave us a really organic jumping off point for this movie.
But we kept kind of kicking the can down the street as to, "How are we going to deal with Infinity War? And will we even have to? What will it ..." And it started to occur to us you know there were little things along the ways we were developing the screenplay, putting in little Easter eggs our action was happening and maybe in the background, there were some sort of hints that something larger was going on in the world. And then finally we sort of landed on the version that you saw. And it made sense to all of us because it really kind of kept the tone of Ant-Man and Wasp intact but dealt with the ramifications of Infinity War in a way that feels really specific to the tone of Ant-Man and the Wasp. And it worked with sort of the tone of our movie and how we wrapped things up and then maybe we haven't quite wrapped things up. I'll leave it at that. I don't want to spoil anything, but yes.
You mentioned at the press conference that this was the first sequel that you have done. Are there certain challenges that come with doing a sequel versus the first one?
I sort of approached it as a moviegoer 'cause we all have specific ideas of what we like in sequels and what we don't like. I do. And I knew that I wanted to make it hopefully funnier than the first one. I wanted to make it a little bigger in terms of the action and have even more comedic action scenes. That all the action scenes really wanted to have a comedic component to them. I wanted to go even more nuts with the shrinking and growing. Maybe we apply the Pym technology not just to people, but to vehicles and buildings and things and just get insane with it. I wanted to feature San Francisco more as a character in the movie. And I also like, with a sequel, you don't want to do a retread of the first movie. You want to forward those characters in ways that both feel organic, but also were unexpected. So those were some just sort of simple guidelines. I also like starting a sequel way after the events of the first movie so that the audience has to catch up to kind of like, "Wait why are Scott and Hope on the outs with each other? They're estranged. What happened?" I like that in a sequel.
In the first movie, it's just Ant-Man. He's the only superhero. But now you have another superhero you're adding to it. What kind of challenges were there to having basically twice as much superhero?
Well, it really kind of became the spine of the story. It's about this partnership. They are not in each others' lives. Hope is doing just fine on her own. She's an extremely capable hero, really more so than Scott is. She's also 100% ready to be a hero whereas Scott is not so sure 'cause the suit has brought him a lot of troubles and complications in his life. So that immediately becomes the dramatic and also the comedic spine of the movie is they're forced to work together because of the specific circumstances of this mission. And are they going to be able to? Does she even need a partner? If so, is it going to be Scott? And also will she be able to find some forgiveness for the things that Scott's done and will they be able to work together?
And also on a personal level, it's a very different dynamic than the first movie in that regard. And we really wanted to put Wasp kind of front and center 'cause she's the one who has such a personal stake in the mission at hand. You know? It's her mom. And because Scott came out of the Quantum Realm, which no one else had done in the first movie, it opened up that possibility of, "Can we actually get down there? Is she still alive maybe 'cause Scott got out?" And it's a very very personal mission for Hope. For Hank certainly too, but for Hope it is.
I thought their partnership was one of the best things about the movie. How do you feel that partnership helps them individually as characters?
She, at the beginning of the movie certainly, is all in being a hero and takes it very seriously and is decisive and smart about it. And Scott is kind of, it's not that he has a take it or leave it attitude about it, but he's trying to work out his work-life balance. Is it worth it being a hero? He can't quite figure out how to make it work in his life. So maybe this mission that comes up and Hope, reluctantly needing Scott for this mission, makes him start to sort of see a purpose for himself as a hero a little bit more and by the end of the movie it's like, "Oh, OK. I can see them working together as partners in the movie."
This movie is really funny. And there seems to be, like, these bits just going on and on and on that just get funnier and funnier. Was that all in the script? Was there improv? Was there anything where you just tried out a bunch of different things? Like, "Let's have him do this in while he's on house arrest," or anything like that?
It's a combination. We try to make the script, obviously, as funny as we can, but Paul is very good about ... Once we get a good version of the scene shot, there's something that happens when you're in a room writing, it's different from when you're on a location or a set shooting something and it may occur to you like, "Oh wait a second. I have a better way to get from point A to point B and this could be funnier. Let's try this."
Or even things like toward the end of the movie when Scott is let off house arrest and he's saying goodbye to Agent Woo, we shot a bunch of different versions, and knowing that we have Paul Rudd and Randall Park and that Randall is hilarious and can keep up with Paul. We did so many different versions of what that goodbye was going to be. There was a very quick one where it was like him sort of saying like, "I'm going to get you next time Scott. Or maybe we're going to be best friends I don't know, but I'll see you." A very short version. And then there was this long version that they did which we cut a version, that ends up from the final version of the movie, where it's just the most painful, awkward thing and it's Jimmy Woo kind of ... He's the guy responsible for enforcing Scott's house arrest, but he also admires Scott and kind of wants to know more about his magic tricks and maybe needs a friend. And we really liked the idea of that aspect of Jimmy Woo. So it is a combination of having a clear plan with the script, but then really being open to trying any different version that's gonna kind of throw a curve ball at the audience. And sometimes that's really where some of the best most unexpected stuff comes from.
There was a really good balance with the emotional parts of the film—Ghost especially. How did you make sure that balanced with the silliness?
Well, that was a hard thing and that was a thing that we ... I really like emotionality in a movie. I like to be moved in a movie if it's earned, and we liked the idea of creating this Ghost character as an antagonist. I always say antagonist instead of villain because you really understand her point of view and she is a victim and she's incredibly powerful, but her mission in the movie really is to heal herself. To sort of cure this affliction that she has. And we had to make way for sort of the tone of that and it was really kind of in the writing, figuring out ways to balance and make her poignant, but not subtly like feel like, "Wait I'm in a different movie now." And part of it came with things like after the truth serum montage with Luis suddenly showing up and like, "Oh wow, she's been eavesdropping on the whole thing and scares the shit out of everybody in the room," struck us as fun. Or having this very serious dramatic scene where she's telling the story of what happened to her and then it's interrupted by Scott's cell phone. I mean the idea of just trying to strike that balance was something that we worked hard on in script as we were shooting and obviously in editing.
For moments like the cell phone ring, how did you come up with what sounds to use?
Oh man, there was a lot of trial and error with all the cell phone stuff. We tried so many different versions. That should be a feature on the DVD and Blu-ray, all the different sound versions. But it just sort of ended up being like what struck us as funny and kind of annoying and also what Scott Lang would have. What sounds he would have on his phone.
So my last question is kind of a fun one. I really liked how the lab could be portable. If you could make anything in your life portable that you could take with you everywhere what would you shrink down?
That's a really good question. Anything I could make portable? I think my bedroom. Take my bedroom around. Sleep in my bed every night. It's a really dull answer, but it's true. Right now I just want to go to my bedroom and sleep. I would have a portable bedroom.
They had their house that they just put on the beach. You could do that.
Yeah exactly. No one so far has asked how the plumbing works in that situation which I'm sure someone's going to ask me at some point like, "Does the plumbing just install itself when they ..." So yeah. I'm not going to answer that question.
I mean, it's the beach. You don't need the plumbing. There's water around.
Right? That's how it works.
Ant-Man and The Wasp hits theaters July 6.