If you were to look at Peyton Reed‘s resume, you’d know why he’s such a talented director. His list of credits is the epitome of “working your way up” and he’s been involved with some high-profile projects.
Last year, we sat down with the Marvel director behind both Ant-Man and the sequel due in theaters July 6, Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Peyton Reed strolls into the room where we’re sitting, full of energy and excitement. The room is lined with concept art from the film and there’s a small group of bloggers – myself included – ready to learn the secrets of the sequel. In part, because we were such huge fans of the first film, but also because Ant-Man and the Wasp is said to play a significant role in the events that follow Avengers: Infinity War.
What Peyton Reed Wanted From ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’
“This film is bigger…” he says, under his breath so that we can barely hear. He smiles, and already we can’t wait for the film’s release.
“We went into this with the idea that [the film] wanted to be both bigger and get out in the world more,” Reed said, “but also be even more intimate and delve into family stuff even more. To me, that is the big strength of Ant Man within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
“I always liked that Scott Lang is just a normal guy who’s made bad decisions in his life” Reed added, “and he keeps trying to make the right decision. And he keeps having these setbacks. He is not someone who naturally has super powers. That’s all about the suit.”
Because Scott Lang is a normal guy with everyday struggles, his character is more relatable. That’s likely why the film was so successful; that and the humor matched with Paul Rudd’s undeniably adorable looks. That’s just my professional opinion.
Director Peyton Reed Plays With LEGOs
The scenery and set design also plays a huge (and small) role in the film. The attention to detail – even the very smallest details – make their way front-and-center throughout the film.
“A lot of the first movie took place in the Pym Tech Laboratory and in Hank Pym’s house,” Reed recalls, “and I really wanted to get out and feel San Francisco more in this movie and put these two characters in the real world.”
“There’s a lot of whimsy in the design of that lab… you walk around and there are Wonderbread clips that you use to hold cables, or there’s like a giant clothes pin… LEGOs, an erector set.“
Peyton Reed is not alone in his wishes for broadening the set of Ant-Man and the Wasp. During our visit, production designer Shepherd Frankel also talked about the importance of the sights of San Francisco in combination with the micro- and macro-universes.
Reed said that Pym’s house, his lab, and Scott Lang’s apartment were just a starting off point as far as the storyline.
The Dynamics That Make ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’
“If you saw Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang is in that movie a little bit, but it’s a very important little bit,” Reed ads. “He went off and was Giant-Man and got involved in fighting with the Avengers. My first thing was, like, ‘Well, Hank Pym would not have liked that very much.’ This is Scott transgressing the law that Hank Pym has laid down. This technology is… dangerous.
“Ant-Man and Wasp are the protectors of this Pym technology, and [Scott’s] gone off and exposed it to Tony Stark who – that’s his worst nightmare.”
Reed said he liked the idea that Scott’s tendency to go against Pym’s wishes for the technology offered a clear jumping off point in terms how the relationship between Scott and Hank develop. It also plays a role in the relationship between Scott and Hope van Dyne. Reed said Ant-Man and the Wasp demonstrates how Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne are heroes, but in very different ways.
“Then, the notion of will they or won’t they be successful as a duo,” Reed adds, “which is a kind of different thing in the MCU. This is a very different partnership. We decided to call the movie Ant-Man and Wasp because it’s very much about both of them. And it’s very important to represent both of their points of views equally in this movie.”
The Ant-Man/Wasp dynamic isn’t the only contributing factor of the film, Reed says.
Peyton Reed’s Love For Comedy, Romance, and Villainy
“There are elements of a romantic comedy in it,” he said, “and it’s sort of family movie because it is still all about parents and their children. And without giving too much away, that thematic even informs our villain and our antagonist in the movie.”
As Ant-Man and the Wasp was in development, there was a hushed mystery surrounding the identity of the villain. It’s since been revealed that Marvel comic book villain Ghost will be the antagonist in the Ant-Man sequel.
“The villain in the movie is certainly based on a villain in the Marvel comics – Ghost,” Reed told us last year. “In the comics, Ghost started out as an Iron Man villain and was a man. And I very much wanted a female antagonist in this movie.”
Reed said that casting Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost gave them more of an opportunity to play with the thematic dynamic of family.
“I stop shy of calling her a villain, though she is the villain,” Reed said. “An antagonist, who you really see the root of what happened to this woman when she was a girl and how it’s informed the rest of her life and her own dilemma.
“She has a very strong point of view and I think the audience is really gonna relate to her, as well. It’s a very complicated set of dynamics that I’m not at liberty to discuss in detail. But it was important to do something that wasn’t just a sort of arch-villain, [but instead] someone who had ties to the history of the Pym/van Dyne dynamic.”
In keeping with the tradition of the first Ant-Man film, Peyton Reed also makes sure that villainy is balanced with humor and emotion.
“My goal was to make this movie more… out in the real world. It’s all about momentum because they’re on the run, and to make it funnier,” Reed said. “But also to make it more emotional – some really emotional moments in the movie are earned emotional moments. I love comedies; I’ve always done comedies. But I also like to be moved in a movie theater. I like when it’s earned. The family dynamics, and what goes on in this movie, and the actors that I’m fortunate enough to have really take advantage of the emotionality in the movie.”