Peyton Reed Talks Marvel History & Making 'Ant-Man' His Own

How complicated is that when it comes to shooting dynamic action sequences? With everything you’re saying, does that create restrictions in the action or does it open up something new?

PEYTON REED: No, I think at first it was like, "is it gonna create restrictions?" but the amazing thing about this visual effects system is that there’s a real liberty to it. You can kind of move the camera and do stuff however you want to do it. The main thing for me for these live-action portions with the actors is making sure they’re focused on the right thing and keeping that sort of life and immediacy to the performances, because that’s the thing about a movie like this, it’s that there’s so much technical stuff going on that the life could get drained out. The actors that we have on this movie are just insane, I mean, they’re just the best.

With Guardians of the Galaxy we looked at a lot of internet stories a few years ago and they were mentioning the talking raccoon and the living tree and everyone was like, "That’s never gonna work" and obviously they turned into the biggest characters of the year. You have similarities with the ants, like, "How is this gonna work out, how are these gonna be characters?" How are you approaching having those characters end up being cool?

PEYTON REED: Well I really like the idea that anybody who walked into a movie theater lobby could see a print of Ant-Man, it could be Paul riding an ant or whatever, and say, "Well that looks ridiculous. How’s Ant-Man gonna be cool?" and this movie answering in a very definitive way how it can be cool. I like that. I mean, I don’t really know that that’s the situation but to me there is an underdog feeling about the movie, for me personally just for coming in as late as I did but also because it’s Ant-Man, and I love that because as a filmmaker you maybe tend to only get one chance to be an underdog, maybe your first movie, and it either does well or it doesn’t and you kind of don’t have that position anymore.

But I like the idea on this that the expectations are sort of, "What is it?" I mean, the shrinking thing is one thing and kind of the most obvious Ant-Man power, but the controlling of the ants is the weirder power and kind of the one that I’m more into in a weird way, because it’s like with that you have the freedom to create these situations and this sort of army of ants and see how something so small can be mobilized as an actual really formidable thing.

Is that something that you had a clear vision on, you wanted to make sure you got that before you got into any of these other elements?

PEYTON REED: Well that element I think is something that was always a part of Ant-Man, but it’s tonally tricky in terms of like part of this initial photography we did. In macro photography we’re shooting live ants and lighting them from behind and really creating tactile ants because you don’t wanna have a compelling story then you dwell into that world and suddenly be in Antz or something.

[All Laugh]

I think A Bug’s Life is better.

PEYTON REED: Yeah, I love A Bug’s Life. So yeah, tonally that’s the thing, sort of like the tone of those ants, making them real and compelling and not cutesy-poo on the other end and really like, ‘Oh wow! That’s awesome!’

Ant-Man HD Photo - Scott Lang and Tiny Ant

Are you using real ants then, for some of the shots?

PEYTON REED: We used real ants mostly for reference and we used ants for focus marks and stuff like that just to sort of see how the light in environment, but the bulk of it will be all created.

So you have like an ants wrangler on set?

PEYTON REED: That’s Ant-Man!

You’re a nerd and…

PEYTON REED: Thank you.

You know that for Marvel nerds they get Pym Particles and the Microverse and how mass changes when characters shrink and grow. Is this anything that comes into play in the movie, or are you just gonna let it play out as sort of science-fantasy?

PEYTON REED: You mean the roles and internal logic of the movie? It’s absolutely a crucial part of the movie. Yeah, it’s a huge, huge part of the movie.

Are those in the Michael Douglas exposition scenes?

PEYTON REED: Yeah, with Michael, [Laughs] yeah. And it’s an amazing thing to kind of have a line that would sort of feel like a Marvel comics line [does Michael Doulas impression] and hearing it come out of Michael Douglas…

[All laugh]

PEYTON REED: I’d believe the science of that, I’d believe it. And then having Michael on set like, [does Michael Douglas impression] "What the fuck?"

[All laugh]

It’s amazing. But his voice is just like this national treasure, man, it’s amazing.

What were the pluses and minuses of stepping into a film where the cast is already in place, where that’s not part of your job anymore?

PEYTON REED: Well that’s the thing, I mean, for a director the cast is such a huge part of the job so my answer to that would be like, in a different situation, it’s like, "Well, hope these guys had enough input." Luckily, Marvel and Edgar cast amazing actors, I mean, we’ve cast additional actors since then but the core group are just beautifully cast. To me Hank Pym is one of the most compelling characters in the Marvel comics world, and to have Michael Douglas play that guy where there’s just clearly a huge gray area with this guy and sometimes with that character you wonder if he’s sane, that’s perfect casting to me, I think he’s fantastic. And that’s been a great joy of the movie, seeing Michael and Paul work together, they work as a group, so I am the very fortunate beneficiary of really great casting choices.

How did the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack change making Ant-Man?

PEYTON REED: I don’t know that it really had an effect on Ant-Man, for me. I mean, I loved the soundtrack for Guardians, but I don’t think you can come out and do that again. I don't think you even want to... So we’re doing an all-Adam and the Ants score.

[All laugh]

PEYTON REED: Mostly "Dirk Wears White Sox", a little "Kings of the Wild Frontier" and "Prince Charming"

[All laugh]

PEYTON REED: That's the score.

Ant-Man Photo - Hope Van Dyne, Hank Pym and Scott Lang
Hope Van Dyne, Scott Lang, and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas)

You were talking about Hank Pym being one of the most fantastic characters in the Marvel universe, you can definitely agree he’s also one of the most controversial characters. I know obviously you’re not going to delve into certain aspects of his past life, how would you let that darkness come out on screen, how much of his past are we going to see?

PEYTON REED: I think you’ll see a really conflicted character and a character in this movie who needs to sort of make right a lot of stuff in his life, and I think there’s a certain amount of guilt that motivates him.

We’ve been hearing about this kind of familial aspect of the movie, the relationships between fathers and daughters, things like that. How does that play into this movie? Because that’s sort of a rare thing in Marvel movies.

PEYTON REED: Well yeah, that was another kind of compelling thing to me when I first read the scripts, is that here’s a hero in the Marvel universe that’s a parent, and that’s something we haven’t seen and, again, something that if dealt with in the wrong way can be tricky. But the way I feel that we’re dealing with it in the movie is really great and is a crucial part of the Scott Lang story, and I like that because there is kind of a weird sort of domestic component to the movie, it’s very different than the other aspects of the movie.

We got a boy scout, a popular rich kid, the jock, the outlaw, where does Scott Lang really fit in, what does he bring that’s different?

PEYTON REED: Well Scott is a guy, again, who’s made some really, really terrible choices in his life, and he’s a guy, I think, who gets adrenalized at the idea of a heist or a job or something like that, so he’s conflicted about that, and it’s led him to make some terrible life choices that he’s trying to change and kind of struggling to stay on the straight narrow. I like the idea that he’s sort of a conflicted person and also that he doesn’t even have super powers. It’s the suit, it’s the part of the technology, and he’s very, very reluctantly pulled into this situation.

You talked about the film being a heist film, with Guardians there are some nods to Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and then you had Bourne Identity sort of popping around in Captain America. Where there any particular films in the heist genre that influenced you at all when you were making the film?

PEYTON REED: Yeah, I mean, it’s more about the rhythms, it’s more about the rhythms of a heist movie, so I can’t really point to one specific heist movie, though I love heist movies. But I don’t think there's one that this specifically owes to, which I like, but the rhythms of the movie, particularly the second half of the movie, in all the machinations of that, it’s very much sort of the structure of a heist movie. But yeah, there’s not really one I would point to.

Evangeline Lilly - Ant-Man Set Interview
Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne

There’s talk these days of a lack of female superheroes in movies, and Ant-Man has as part of his larger world one of the most iconic female superheroes in Wasp, not only the founder of the Avengers but eventually the leader of the Avengers. If you can you tell us, what is the female component of this movie and are we gonna see Wasp on screen?

PEYTON REED: I think there are really compelling female components in the movie and working with Evangeline [Lilly], I mean, Evangeline is someone who just rises above in this movie, and she shows a lot of cards in this movie, and I think the movie is as much her journey as it is Scott Lang’s journey in the movie. As far as Wasp, we’re definitely dealing with Wasp in the movie, I don’t know how much Kevin Feige told you.

Kevin told us we were gonna see her in a flashback and we were gonna see her eyes through a mask.

PEYTON REED: You’re gonna see her in a flashback and you’ll see her eyes through a mask.

[All laugh]

Most of the movie is set in the modern world, but there are flashbacks, particularly about characters that we don’t know much about yet. I’m curious if you could talk about building that era and also that Michael Douglas is playing the younger version in the film?

PEYTON REED: Yeah, and again, that’s fun to me too because one of the great joys if the Marvel comics universe is sort of the different eras and how heroes would change, adapt, and that sort of stuff. So I think that’s one of the fun things, is to see at least a couple of situations in this movie that warp back to this other era that we haven’t really dealt with. There are two specifically, two different eras, and I love it aesthetically just because of what you get to do with the suits and the type of actions, but it’s also really –Pym is a guy that’s really haunted by his past so it’s a crucial part of the movie to sort of make that come alive.

Are there multiple flashbacks?

PEYTON REED: Multiple probably suggests that there’s constant fracturing of time and going back, I wouldn’t say that.

Are you doing anything to Michael to digitally age him down, like back?

PEYTON REED: Yeah, for a sequence of so, yes, definitely.

Next Page: S.H.I.E.L.D. Connections & Ant-Man's Place In the MCU Timeline

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