When I visited the Marvel Ant-Man set last fall I didn’t just visit one set, I visited two. One set was the house that belongs to Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) wife Maggie (Judy Greer), where I watched a live taping and interviewed the stars. The other set was Pym Technologies.
Fun Fact – Just in front of us in this photo is a landing, and leading down from that landing on either side is a short set of stairs. While walking around in Pym Technologies (not allowed to touch anything!) we discovered that one set of stairs was normal while the stairs on the other side were made of rubber (or something rubber like) to protect the actor who went through the window and landed on those stairs. The stairs are startlingly squishy and even up close you couldn’t tell they weren’t normal stairs until you stepped on them.
I have to admit, I was totally geeking out. It was cool to see all of the details up close.
Speaking of geeking out. The best part of our set visits was talking to the people who made the movie. Up next I want to share the highlights from our conversation with Ant-Man director Peyton Reed. (Can you believe he took a break from filming to talk to me?!)
Ant-Man Director Peyton Reed Interview
What was your experience with Ant-Man before starting production on the movie?
I am a classic Marvel Comics nerd who was reading comic books from a really young age, and Ant-Man was one of my favorites. I always loved Ant-Man. He’s kind of an outsider character, even in the comics world. He really never had his own comic book. He was an Avenger and there was Tales To Astonish, but I always loved that character.
I was actually in a punk band in the ’80s, and I would draw all the fliers to the shows. There was one where I totally ripped off the cover of Avengers #1. I had the band members as characters of the Avengers, and I was Ant Man. It was a weird thing to be directing Ant Man now when I was that character back in my punk rock days.
How much of a role does Ant-Man being a father play in the movie?
It’s one of the things that I really was attracted to about the movie because he’s the only superhero in the Marvel Universe who is a parent. We’ve changed some of the specifics from the comic, but he still definitely has the relationship with his daughter Cassie. Plus there is the Michael Douglass dad angle.
Being a father is a driving force as to why he embraces his heroic side. That was really appealing to me to do a movie that has all these weird elements to it. The shrinking, the controlling ants and all the super heroics, but it also has this really grounded domestic side. It’s this guy who has made really poor decisions in his life and is now trying to find redemption.
I think that in terms of the script and the story one of the great things is that they both, Paul and Michael, are very flawed characters who have things to learn about parenting and about being there for your kids. And that I think is very different from a lot of the other Marvel movies.
Do you have a lot of freedom when you turn a Marvel Comic character and turn it into a movie?
Another thing I love about the Marvel Universe is they’re all interconnected, but they allow each individual movie to have its own tone. In fact they really encourage it to have its own tone. For example, the first Captain America is a straight up WWII soldier story and Winter Soldier is a ‘70s political thriller.
This movie really has the DNA of a heist movie. The way that it was written and the way we’re shooting it, it has a real sort of rhythm. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen and there are a lot of heist movies that we watched as inspiration. So it is a superhero movie, but it really has the spin of a heist movie.
Is there a lot of comedy in the movie?
There is. I mean, it’s a serious movie with serious stakes, but it was important to keep the comedic thing alive. There are certain situations are just inherently funny, and we’ve never forgotten that we are doing a movie about a guy who shrinks down to the size of an ant, which is potentially the silliest Marvel hero. But one of the things that we all love is that the movie is gonna’ surprise people. In terms of the shrinking we’re able to do things on a technical level that just haven’t been in a movie before.
And then in terms of the other power, the weirder power, controlling ants, which seems so crazy and silly we’re gonna’ show the audience okay maybe it’s not so silly. Look at what he can do and look at what these tiny things can do when they’re mobilized into armies. That’s one of the fun things about the movie, I think it will sneak up on audiences that way.
Because the movie centers around family are you targeting family as an audience?
The movie is going to be PG-13, but I think all Marvel movies are very uplifting movies. They are really about, not just feats of super heroics, but about finding the hero in yourself. They are stories about people who have maybe lost their way finding their way. I get from those movies what I used to get from those comics you know. They embrace the aspirational quality of what I think is the initial reason that comic books were created and why people read comic books. ‘Cause that’s something to aspire to.