While the chance to direct 2015’s Ant-Man was the highlight of Peyton Reed’s career, the sudden departure of Edgar Wright meant he was actually only given a year to work on the blockbuster.
You couldn’t tell from the end result, though, as “Ant-Man” was still met with critical acclaim and took in the solid sum of $519.3 million.
That gross, meant Reed was always going to return for the sequel. But this time around he would have three years to develop and evolve his plans for Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Evangeline Lily’s Wasp, Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and, most importantly, Michael Pena’s Luis.
I recently had the chance to chat to Reed, who talked me through his work on “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” the twentieth installment to the seemingly evergreen Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After the rush of the first film, how did it feel to have more time to work on “Ant-Man and the Wasp”?
It was nice to have considerably more development time and prep time on this movie. Also, I don’t think it hurt going in having dealt with those characters in the first movie, knowing those characters, being familiar with the actors and all, that was a nicer way to come into this movie than the first time. What that allowed us to do really was take things that we had really built on in the first movie, in terms of the very specific tone of this movie, and really kind of take any intimacy that we had in the first movie but really kind of blow it out in terms of the visuals and all of that stuff. That was really a goal I had set for my self when I was trying to expand on it and then to keep the audience guessing in terms of the visuals we were going to throw at them.
It goes from feeling like an out-and-out comedy to a huge tentpole movie, talk about mixing those together.
The “Ant-Man and the Wasp” universe is inherently comedic, with big stakes and everything, too. But what is at the core of the “Ant-Man” movies is this intimate family story about fathers and daughters. Whether they are literal fathers and daughters, like Hank and Hope and Scott and Cassie. And then there’s a more metaphorical father and daughter relationship, too. As fast as the movie moves, and we really wanted it to feel fast, we wanted it to feel like an Elmore Leonard novel/science fiction/comedy, we wanted it to have that pace. But we also wanted to slow it down and remember that it is the characters and these central family relationships that are key to the movie. The other thing that is key to tone, all of the action set-pieces, with the possible exception being the start of the first Ghost and Wasp battle is that they are really designed comedically. They all come out of visual gags and character comedy. And that I think is the thing that sets the “Ant-Man” movies apart a little bit.
This feels more like a love-letter to San Francisco, too.
Both movies take place in San Francisco. With this movie I really wanted to take it out into the city more. Feature more of the action and visuals there, really make the city more of a character. We designed this set of sequences in the back half of the movie that really were very, very specific to San Francisco. A chase that uses specific geography and landmarks of the city.
Talk about playing off other Marvel films, especially following “Infinity War.”
We obviously always knew we were coming out after “Infinity War,” and we also knew how “Infinity War” ended. But, our movie, weirdly, is not only a sequel to “Ant-Man” but to “Civil War.” We could not ignore what Scott Lang does in “Civil War,” which was a really good jumping off point. But what’s great is that this movie was really encouraged to be its own movie and its own tone.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is released on July 6.