Ant-Man was perhaps the biggest "wild card" released in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; between the title character's relative obscurity - compared to the other superheroes that had debuted as part of the MCU at that point - and original writer/director Edgar Wright stepping down shortly before production was to begin, after spending years of developing the movie. Director Peyton Reed then stepped in and successfully steered the ship to port (with help from others, of course), in the process delivering another generally well-received (and lucrative) big screen MCU adventure.
Reed is now hard at work on the sequel, titled Ant-Man and the Wasp, that Marvel Studios has set for a Summer 2018 theatrical release. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are reprising their Ant-Man roles (Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, respectively) in the sequel too, with the latter finally getting to suit up as the Wasp this time around (as was first teased during Ant-Man's end credits). Reed and his collaborators are keeping other details on the sequel pretty close to the chest for the time being, though it has been confirmed that Ant-Man and the Wasp won't be a superhero heist movie in the vein of the first Ant-Man.
Reed recently spoke with Moviefone about the challenge of not repeating what the first Ant-Man did story-wise in the sequel, but also upping the ante in technical areas - now that Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange has raised that bar, with its widely-praised psychedelic visuals/action:
Well, it's a mixed bag. Because, as a comics fan growing up, to see all these heroes brought to life on the screen in such huge fashion is always exciting. As the director of a movie that's coming like three, four, five movies later, the bar is always raised, and it's great. It's a challenge.
Because they're always making technical breakthroughs, and also just story breakthroughs, one of the great things about Marvel is you want to do movies that are doing something different and not treading on what the other movies are doing. So it's always exciting because they manage to top themselves.
Ant-Man beat Doctor Strange to the punch when it came to introducing more "out-there" visuals and sci-fi concepts into the MCU, by providing a brief glimpse at the Quantum Realm during the movie's climax. Reed and his Ant-Man and the Wasp writing team - which includes Rudd, who also co-wrote Ant-Man - have planned to push the envelope further in the sequel for some time now, as evidenced by Reed's previous teases that Ant-Man's next adventure will be "weirder" and feature things "never seen in a movie before." Doctor Strange's positive reception ought to give Reed all the more incentive to keep pushing Ant-Man and the Wasp in that direction.
Reed told Moviefone that official prep on Ant-Man and the Wasp begins this month (at the time of writing this), teasing that the "crazy stuff" and outlandish concepts that have been cooked up in the sequel's writing process are now going to be properly visualized, ahead of production getting started next year. The director also promised to deliver fresher - and exciting - twists on both Ant-Man and Wasp's abilities in the aftermath of this year's Captain America: Civil War (where Scott Lang showed off his Giant-Man form for the first time in the MCU). Reed indicated the Ant-Man sequel will benefit in this respect by getting to be the first to reveal Wasp in full in the MCU:
Again, that is one of the sort of things where it's a mixed bag. When I first found out -- gosh, I don't know, two years ago, a year-and-a-half ago -- that "Civil War" was going to get the Giant-Man premiere, I was like "No!" But, now, I've since recovered, and we have a lot more in store for Scott Lang in this movie.
We get to see the Wasp debut -- we're all about the Wasp and Ant-Man. So I like it, because we spend a lot of time with our different writers and directors, and there's a lot of crosstalk, and I love that.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is making its way down the pipeline at a time when the drum is beating louder than ever for Marvel Studios to introduce more female superheroes into the MCU. The studio is listening too, what with Wasp co-headlining the Ant-Man sequel, Captain Marvel getting her own movie and the prospect of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow getting her own solo MCU film looking more likely than ever. Reed, for his part, says he's just happy to get the chance to introduce Wasp to the MCU and do right by the character, in the process:
Well, I'm just personally excited to get to introduce yet another character into the Marvel Universe. After Ant-Man, now we get to see Wasp, so really designing her look, the way she moves, the power set, and figuring out, sort of, who Hope van Dyne is as a hero -- because we know her in a certain context in the first movie, but now she's going to have her coming out party -- that's exciting!
Lilly has confirmed that she will return as the Wasp/Hope van Dyne in the currently-untitled Avengers: Infinity War sequel, but the future of Lilly's character in the MCU beyond that remains up in the air. There has already been some preliminary talk of a Wasp solo movie from Ant-Man co-screenwriter Adam McKay, but for now that's all there is: talk. Longtime MCU fans no doubt recall that movies about characters like Doctor Strange and Black Panther started out as "just talk" too, so there may yet be hope for those excited by the prospect of seeing Wasp on an adventure alone, perhaps sometime in Phase 4 of the MCU.
- Doctor Strange (2016) release date: Nov 04, 2016
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019