Ten Minutes with Peyton Reed and Kevin Feige
Last month I attended the Ant-Man press event in Los Angeles. We were given our list of interviewees before we arrived for the event. We were all excited to talk with the talent from the film. We arrived at the Disney Lot early on a Saturday morning to get started with the interviews and it was while we were there we learned that in addition to interviewing Peyton Reed – director of Ant-Man, he would be accompanied by President of Marvel Studios – Kevin Feige. Cue the panic and nerves. This was my very first Marvel press junket. Last fall I had the honor of visiting the set of Agent Carter before it premiered on ABC Television. We met a few people from Marvel but this was huge.
Our interview with Reed and Feige was right after our #Antourage interview and I assumed that would be a tough act to follow. The next ten minutes though was epic in its own way. Looking at Reed talk about his inspiration during filming, learning about the ants he used and seeing the look in Feige’s eyes when Enza of Enza’s Bargain showed him some fan art on her laptop. I wish you all could see the wheels spinning in his head at that moment. Ant-Man is now playing, everywhere and if you haven’t had the opportunity to see the movie during opening weekend, I urge you to go see it this week. This post does contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film and you don’t want spoilers – you’ve been warned.
Ant-Man is probably the funniest Marvel movie to date, so we of course asked Reed about directing a humorous superhero.
Reed: “Well, I think that was one of the things that appealed to me about it in the first place was that particularly in the context of Marvel movies it was sort of smaller, more intimate Marvel movie and it did kind of revolve around family. Scott Lang, has one goal in the movie – is to when he gets out of prison is to become a part of his daughter’s life. That’s it, that’s all he wants. And it’s a really strong, relatable personal goal. You know, of course he has to go on a crazy journey and achieve a lot of crazy things to–– to become a part of her life but that’s it. And I also liked that it was always a part of the movie.
Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd’s characters, they both have daughters and they both have kind of strange relationships. They want to be closer to their daughters. That’s sort of a bond that they have. They may not realize that’s their bond at all, but it is. And with Hank Pym and Hope, it’s crucial to the success of pulling off this heist they have to repair that relationship. ‘Cause they’re never gonna achieve that goal unless they find some peace with each other.”
These relationships make the movie very relatable to the audience. You can really identify with these characters in a way you may not be able to with others. Reed also shared that he knew with Paul Rudd at the center of the movie, there’s no way it wasn’t going to be funny. One of his goals was to make this a repeat movie going experience and having seen the film twice I have to say he achieved this goal.
Q: This is a pretty big departure from a lot of the types of movies that you typically direct and what’s it like directing something like this and joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Reed: “Well it’s a kind of movie that I’ve wanted to do for a really long time and technically, it’s a big departure, I mean, there are I think 1600 visual effects in the movie, it’s a big deal in that regard. But it really is what Marvel does extremely well. I mean, we have Jake Morrison who’s our Visual Effects Supervisor. I spent a lot of time with him and sort of talking about the look of the movie and the realism that we wanted. We were gonna be doing what’s hopefully the definitive “shrinking movie” for 2015. And it had to look as photorealistic as possible.
And it really had to put the viewer down in that environment. When he shrinks down we were gonna be shrinking the audience down with him. And what would that look like and feel and how are we gonna achieve that? ‘Cause if he’s running across a table I wanted to really feel like the texture of the table and all that. So Marvel just happens to employ the top people in Hollywood for doing that and it was a huge education for me in that regard and I loved it. It was amazing and the stuff that they are able to pull off is, it’s kind of mind-boggling.”
Reed shared that when he started on the project he would pour through old comic books looking for images that appealed to him. He wanted to find ways to add them to the movie. He had a few ideas that did make it while some didn’t. Ant-Man is sort of heist movie and Reed had to look somewhere for inspiration, he found it…
Reed: “Actually I did go back and look at a bunch of heist movies like Oceans Eleven and Thomas Crown Affair, things like that. But there’s a certain rhythm that these heist movies have and they’re sort of tropes that appear in these movies. I wanted to be really kinetic and have a lot of movement to it. And I think there is a big correlation between how a comedy plays and how you shoot a comedy to how you build tension. It was something that was always there in the original scripts Edgar and Joe wrote where it was a heist movie structure and there’s something really fun about that.
When Adam McKay and Paul Rudd came on to write I really wanted to sort of enhance that and we had a lot of fun with it. We knew there was gonna be a moment where Scott Lang was gonna be tempted to go back into a life of crime. And he had to know that the tip was solid so he goes to Michael Peña he goes, ‘Tell me about that tip.’ Now, if you ask Louis about a tip it might not be a straight answer, you know. We loved the idea and we sort of added that in pre-production as we were writing like this is a fun element of a guy who sometimes goes off point as he tells these stories. And it also kinda helped build Michael Peña’s character as this guy who, he has this unsuspected depth to him, he’s a connoisseur of wines and he’s into expressionist art and he waffles for the guy.
Marvel does an excellent job at connecting all their films. If you’re a fan of the comic books you know that Ant-Man does play a huge role in the Avengers. With Captain America Civil War on the verge the idea came up to put Ant-Man against another Marvel character and he wasn’t quite prepared. Reed said he loved the idea and immediately started thinking of how it would go if these characters did have to fight each other who it would work out. If you’ve seen the previews or the movie you know that Falcon makes a cameo in the movie. Yes it’s all connected. Which also brings me to reminding you to stay through both sets of credits for the end scenes because you don’t want to miss those either.
Q: When creating these films, how do you try to incorporate things to get the women a little more involved and excited about the film as well?
Feige: “Well, I think all of our movies have appeal to both. This is our 12th movie so I’m not sure why it still seems surprising but in test screenings oftentimes the movies are rated higher by the women in the audience than by the men. So when people go, ‘Oh, you know, these, women don’t usually like these kind of movies,’ I go, ‘Well, that’s not true.’ I mean there are men that don’t like them, there are women that don’t, but it really is a huge huge portion of the fan base now.
We want to see the powerful women because we all have powerful women in our lives. That’s the way of the world, so when it comes to Hope it was a big part of the development of the development of the movie, in particular when Peyton came on board and when Evangeline was about to come on board the big question was, ‘Well, why isn’t she in the suit?’ She could easily be in the suit. She is clearly more capable than Scott Lang is to be in the suit.
It became the crux of her issues with her dad and her issues with the relationship they had growing up. It becomes a big reveal in the movie. This is why I’m so adamant about it, leading up to the moment at the very end of the movie where he gets over those and she says, which I think is one of my favorite quotes of any of our films, ‘It’s about damn time.’
Q: So what made you go and want to do this? I know you had talked about you had drawn an ant and saying you wanted to be Ant Man, what made you direct this movie?
Reed: “Well, as I said, I’d wanted to do this kind of movie for a long time and then specifically I had wanted to do a Marvel movie for a long time. I developed Fantastic Four for a time and that’s where I first met Kevin. And I did not end up doing that movie but it was something that I really wanted to do and I actually came in and pitched on Guardians of the Galaxy. So when Ant Man came about I really jumped at the chance. I knew the character from the comics, I had wanted to work with Paul Rudd for a long time, I had known Paul and we had never had a chance to work together, so it just made sense.”
Q: What would you say has been possibly the most challenging scene?
Reed: “Paul Rudd’s shirtless scene was very challenging. [LAUGHTER] As strange as it was to watch him work out, to sit and have a really nice lunch and watch him eat one almond for lunch (he jokes). Probably the most challenging thing was essentially Ant-Man has a couple of powers, shrinking, how are we gonna realize the shrinking and make it seem absolutely real? But the second power, he controls ants. I was intrigued by that story wise, it’s so absurd as a power and I loved that the movie really answers the audience’s question about, “Well, how can that be cool?” or “How can that achieve anything?”
And I loved that we were able to tell the story of these distinct types of ants and they have specific skill sets. And they’re all based in reality. I love that a kid can see the movie and he’s like, ‘Oh a carpenter ant, how could that happen?’ They go on Wikipedia or they read a book about them and it’s all based in fact and how do these fire ants make rope ladders and they can make bridges and they actually can. That would’ve appealed to me as a kid, but that was a big challenge is how we create these ants and make them seem like real ants, give them specific qualities and characters.
And I think specifically with the character of Antony we talked about a lot. Like how can we create a Lone Ranger/Silver dynamic?” as Roy Rogers is with Ant Man? ‘Cause in the comics that’s one of the big iconic images is Ant Man on the wings of a carpenter ant. It’s a potentially kind of silly thing but we wanted to make it real and like really cool and maybe go further and what if they had this kind of nice relationship and then what if something happened to poor Antony, it really appealed to us about creating a real sort of relationship between these two and I loved that we were able to do that.”
Q: Do you now have a favorite type of ant?
Reed: “Yeah I’m a big Bullet Ant fan. I love them just because they look amazing. You know, they’re like these sort of armored tanks and there’s something prehistoric looking about them. But then like there’s the painting, there’s real documentaries if you go on YouTube there’s an Australian guy who does these travel shows. [He starts imitating the guy] ‘I’ve heard so much about how painful the sting can be. I’m going to be bit by one of these things.’ And he puts his hand, they have a ceremony where there’s a glove and there are bullet ants in it and you have to put your hand in it and it’s this rite of passage.
It goes wrong it’s insanely painful but the pain lasts for hours and he’s shivering and sweating and they have to give him adrenaline, but go on YouTube and find the video.”
Everyone we interviewed before Reed talked about how well he knew all the scientific terms for the ants and Michael Douglas even commented on how Reed knew his lines better than him. It was clear that he did a lot of research and it shows in the end product. Marvel’s Ant-Man is now playing everywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet go see it and if you did what did you like the most about the movie? Remember to stay through the end credits. Parents if you’re worried about taking your kids to see this movie don’t be. It’s family friendly, check out my review. Also check out this clip from the movie.
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