Before Ant-Man even began production, Marvel Studios came prepared to San Diego Comic-Con 2014 with the film's core cast and some test footage to tease fans. We had the chance to speak with the cast that evening and ask about some of the details of the film, namely the differences between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket's costumes. We wanted to know how the '60s era retro Ant-Man costume Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) takes from Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) could compete against the high-tech and heavily weaponized Yellowjacket uniform Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) develops and wears.
Stoll told us it came down to the ants, something only Pym and Lang know how to communicate with and control via different technology, tech that Cross doesn't have. But that's no the only difference in their costumes, since the biggest differences are in how they are realized on the big screen. The Yellowjacket suit for instance, doesn't even exist. It's entirely CGI.
While visiting the set of Ant-Man last October, the first production to use the brand new Pinewood Atlanta Studios, we had the opportunity to explore the costume department and speak with the talented artists and designers. We also had the chance to see Rudd and Stoll in action in their costumes, the difference being that Rudd actually has a full, real Ant-Man costume to wear, and Stoll has only a mo-cap outfit to wear. The only thing the costume department developed on the Yellowjacket front was a unpainted sculpt of the helmet, and a small-scale model of one of the Yellowjacket weaponized arms.
That same day we sat down to chat with Paul Rudd and director Peyton Reed just outside of where the crew was shooting an action sequence involving a helicopter next door, one that sees Cross in the Yellowjacket outfit. When we spoke with Rudd we asked about what it's like to wear the Ant-Man costume, especially given that it's one of the more unique Marvel Studios superhero outfits since it's retro in design, originally belonging to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) decades earlier.
"Literally it’s like you put it on, you can’t help but feel kinda cool. It’s a superhero suit, and it’s a really good one too. The first time I ever put it on was just in a fitting and there were several fittings and it takes hours, it had been a lot. You stand differently. It just feels like a suit, and because of that, you’re working from the outside in. Everything starts to change and yeah, it’s pretty cool."
Later in the day, Rudd suited up in the outfit to shoot his scenes with the helicopter and he wanted to show it off but couldn't find us since we were checking out the third unit, where Ant-Man's unique macro photography was taking place. So, in between takes when we were back in the first stage, he came in the room, fully suited up. He had to have an assistant unscrew the front of his mask so we could see his face. He looked, and more importantly, felt like a superhero.
Stoll's costume however, doesn't exist physically. He wears a motion capture suit on set when playing scenes where he's in the Yellowjacket costume. We asked Rudd if that if he would prefer to play it that way too given the time required and challenge of getting in and out of the costume, but for him, it's all part of the experience.
"No, there’s something pretty great about having something to wear and feel, and it helps. There are some scenes where I don’t even wear the full helmet, but I want to wear the full helmet because it will feel different. And I think it will in some very subtle way, maybe not, but for me I want to feel that protection over my face in some scenes."
As for Stoll, he has no regrets that he's acting in mo-cap pajamas.
"You know, it’s a sort of a double-edged sword, because I think I’m more comfortable. It takes a lot less time to get in and out of it than Paul’s does. And, in the end, the end result will be cooler than any actual physical substance could be."
Skip forward 8-9 months later and last week we met with director Peyton Reed again on a visit to Industrial Light & Magic to look at some near-finished sequences from the film. We asked about why the decision was made to craft the Yellowjacket suit entirely in CGI.
"It’s a couple things. One is just in terms of the way he’s able to move in the body suit. As soon as you start to put a lot of armor on…because you want it to be photorealistic and you want it to be tactile. But there’s a point where it can just get clumsy and you don’t have ease of movement.
The surfaces are so sophisticated now that you can make them look extremely tactile. So, really, that was the thing. It was something early on that we had built pieces of little armor and stuff like that and it just was not practical to shoot."
I suppose it balances out since Stoll may have a CGI costume to play pretend with, and Rudd has to interact with an army of CGI ants.
From the Ant-Man trailers and TV spots released by Marvel thus far, and from the action sequences we were able to view at ILM, the Yellowjacket costume looks very lifelike and the artists have done a tremendous job getting the little details and honeycomb-esque texture to look real with the lighting.
Marvel’s “Ant-Man” stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave, Wood Harris as Gale, Judy Greer as Maggie, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym. Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Ant-Man” delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.
Ant-Man opens in theaters July 17, 2015; Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017;Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019;Inhumans – July 12, 2019.