Ant-Man and The Wasp once again delivers a fresh, one-two punch that smacks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in an accessible and relatable way.
From the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes the next film to feature the adventures of Ant-Man, Ant-Man and The Wasp, which debuts Ant-Man’s long-awaited ally, The Wasp.
Marvel Comics first introduced brilliant scientist Dr. Hank Pym and his alter ego, Ant-Man, in 1962 with the publication of Tales to Astonish #27. He later appeared alongside the Avengers in the team’s debut in Avengers #1 in 1963. Pym’s immeasurable contributions to the Super Hero realm began with the discovery of a unique chemical substance, dubbed the Pym Particle, which allowed him to alter his size and possess superhuman strength. The Wasp, a founding member of the Avengers alongside Ant-Man, and its first Super Heroine, first appeared in Marvel Comics’ Tales to Astonish #44 in 1963.
With the 2015 release of Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe acquainted its faithful and ever-expanding audience with Ant-Man, who is resurrected by Dr. Hank Pym when he handpicks Scott Lang (Paul Rudd – Captain America: Civil War, Knocked Up), a good-hearted thief, to don the suit and become a hero. The film also featured Pym’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Lost), who is poised to become The Wasp .
The action-packed heist film, directed by Peyton Reed, was both a box-office success and fan favorite, opening No. 1 at the box office and going on to garner over $500 million worldwide.
Now, in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, we find Lang grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas – Behind the Candelabra, Wall Street) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from the past.
Ant-Man and The Wasp returns director Peyton Reed to the franchise. Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers and Paul Rudd & Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari wrote the screenplay.
Chris Mckenna (Screenplay by) is a writer/producer who, along with feature writing partner Erik Sommers, co-wrote the hit films Spider-Man: Homecoming, The LEGO Batman Movie and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. McKenna will executive produce the upcoming Fox pilot Revival alongside his wife and creator Sally Bradford McKenna (Ghosted), Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) and Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat).
Erik Sommers (Screenplay by) is a writer/producer who, along with feature writing partner Chris McKenna, wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming and The LEGO Batman Movie, as well as the recent release, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Sommers has previously written for a number of television series, including NBC’s critically acclaimed comedy Community, ABC’s Happy Endings and Fox’s long-running animated series American Dad, for which he shared a 2012 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for outstanding animated program and voiced several characters.
New York–based writers Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (Screenplay by) got their start when their spec Die in a Gunfight made the 2010 Black List and was picked up as a starring vehicle for Zac Efron by MRC. Since then, they’ve worked on various studio projects that include a Transformers prequel with Paramount Animation and Hasbro Studios, a Highlander reboot with Lionsgate and director Chad Stahelski, and an adaptation of the nonfiction novel At the Devil’s Table for Warner Bros. and John Krasinski.
In 2014, they were hired as on-set writers for Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man. They are currently adapting the novel No Exit for Fox and Scott Frank, as well as writing an untitled feature project for the Russo brothers’ AGBO. In television, the team is developing the Valiant comic Quantum and Woody into a comedy series, also with the Russo brothers, as well as writing a series based on Stephen King’s short story N at USA.
The Story: Family & Far-Out Fun
While audiences were primed for the next film in the Ant-Man franchise, ostensibly with a more prominent role for Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp, everyone was thrown a gigantic curveball by Ant-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Ant-Man joining the fray with Cap and the Avengers firmly planted him within the Super Hero family, albeit a fractured, dysfunctional one. But, more importantly for Marvel aficionados, it also provided the setting for the splashy debut of Giant-Man, the oversized incarnation of our Super Hero.
“What’s exciting about ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp,’” says producer Kevin Feige, “is it’s really a sequel to two movies. It’s a follow-up to ‘Ant-Man,’ while also showing the aftermath of ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ For me, there’s a tremendous amount of excitement when you’re able to tell stories like this and combine characters from their origin movies and then layer in their appearances from other movies. Because of this strategy, Ant-Man post-‘Civil War’ has now been exposed to a much bigger audience.”
Adds producer Stephen Broussard, “Scott’s participation in ‘Civil War’ ended up being a really great jumping-off point for this movie. The events of ‘Civil War’ defined where Scott is in his life at this moment and laid the groundwork for the story that we tell in ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp.’”
Having the story take place “in its own corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” was important for how Reed approached the film.
“The first ‘Ant-Man’ was a deliberately smaller, more intimate movie,” he explains. “You have Sam Wilson appear, but that’s really the only major link to the larger MCU. I like that about the Ant-Man universe, and really in ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ we’re doubling down on that. We had talked a lot about what the point of entry to these characters was in ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ and what’s happened in the intervening time. Of course, the one thing the audience knows is that Scott Lang is in a prison somewhere, but there’s the hint that Captain America busts them out. So one of the big challenges was that, for the little amount of time that Scott Lang is in ‘Civil War,’ we had to take in account what that meant for these characters going forward.”
The most exciting and anticipated reveal in the film is the introduction of The Wasp, which brings an amazing, female Super Hero to the big screen, and into the heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Says Feige of the newly unveiled Super Heroine, “The reveal of The Wasp suit is one of our favorite endings of any of our films. It’s something that she believes, that we believe and we think the audience believes when it comes to female superheroes. It is about damn time, and that’s why the movie is called ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp.’”
For director Peyton Reed, it was a privilege to spearhead the big-screen debut of The Wasp, whose introduction also marks the first female character to be featured in the title treatment of a Marvel Studios film. “There are a lot of things that excite me about ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp,’” comments Reed. “But I think the biggest thrill is to introduce The Wasp to film audiences for the first time and see Hope van Dyne as a fully formed Super Hero with an amazing power set. To reveal the new rapport between her and Scott Lang and to show how she fits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, frankly, a fun process for me and even a bit awe-inspiring.”
Reed was particularly keen to jump back into the story line and pick up where he left off with Scott, Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym. He states, “In the first ‘Ant-Man’ there was so much to set up. We had to set up the mythology of Hank Pym and the powers of Ant-Man. And then we had to set up Scott Lang as an ex-con and how he comes upon the Ant-Man technology. And we had to tell the story of who Hope van Dyne is. And then we had to give a little taste of Janet and Hank together. And then we had to establish that he controls ants too. That it’s not just the shrinking. There was a lot packed into it.”
He continues, “But in this one, for the most part, we were free to start a scene where ants are doing something particular and let the audience discover what ants do in this universe. We don’t have to spend story time setting that up. So there is something really liberating about that, and that we can hit the ground running in this movie.”
Revisiting the prevailing theme of family, an integral part of “Ant-Man,” was a no-brainer when crafting the story line for this next installment. It was the heart of the first film, and the filmmakers wanted to explore more of that through the Van Dyne-Pym and Lang extended families.
Explains Reed, “In my mind, the family dynamic is so crucial to what the ‘Ant-Man’ movies are. Scott Lang is the real everyman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s not a super scientist; he’s not a billionaire. He’s just a normal guy who doesn’t have superpowers. It’s all about that suit. There’s a part of Scott that has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about whether he’s a hero or not. After inadvertently putting his daughter in harm’s way and then facing life in prison never to see his daughter again, Scott is ambivalent about being Ant-Man, and we definitely tell that story.”
Adds Feige, “What’s exciting about all of our characters is their humanity. Scott Lang, in particular, has a much deeper connection with family. The relationship between him and Cassie was the backbone of ‘Ant-Man.’ We’ve expanded this further in ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ with Scott’s bigger family unit and with Hank, Hope and Janet. I think that’s what audiences respond to. Of course, you still get the spectacle, and you get the fun of Ant-Man shrinking and now growing but you also have this very deep family connection, which is unique among all of our Marvel Studios films.”
Both Ant-Man and The Wasp have their own specialized skill set, and it will be a daunting proposition for the couple, following a brief romantic history, to rise above it all without derailing Hank’s well-laid plans. Together they have the potential to be unstoppable, but getting to that point will be problematic.
Hope, however, is still as driven as ever and has had two years to hone her now-impressive skills and honestly has no interest in or need for Ant-Man. But when faced with obstacles on all fronts a partnership is a necessity she cannot afford to ignore. “Hope at the beginning of the movie seems very clear about what her attitude is but she’s going to learn a lot throughout the course of this story,” says Reed.
“‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ is a two-hander between Hope van Dyne and Scott Lang,” offers Feige. “You could see in ‘Ant-Man’ that Hope was frankly more capable than Scott was at being a Super Hero, and her father, because of the loss of her mother, emotionally didn’t want her to do this. Now we get to see her take the gloves off and become a Super Hero. So that changes their whole dynamic together, and we get to see whether they will be able to act as a unified team, as Ant-Man and The Wasp.”
The tone of the film follows the precedent of the first, with humor mixed with true-crime elements. As Broussard explains, “The first film definitely played with the heist genre, which is a tried-and-true crime genre, and we continue to look at the franchise as a series of films that play in the crime genres. So we started to play around with different crime genres and what I call ‘crime-adjacent’ genres. And one of the things that inspired us on this go-round was a type of subgenre that I’m sure people know by many names but I’ve always called it ‘one bad night,’ meaning something has to happen, usually on the edges of the law, and you think it should be simple but it just spirals out of control and things get worse and worse and worse.”
He adds, “We were also inspired by the crime novels of Elmore Leonard, who’s written all sorts of great books, a lot of which have been turned into movies like ‘Get Shorty’ and ‘Out of Sight.’ They all have these fringe characters who are quirky in their own ways. So as we looked to craft who the villains are in this movie, who the antagonists and the people standing in the way of Scott and company, we were very much inspired by that crime writing as well.”
Upping the ante for the fun elements of shrinking and growing was an important directive for the filmmakers. “Shrinking and growing as a visual concept, as a sci-fi idea, as a superhero idea is so cool,” says Broussard. “And there are so many different things you can do with it. They did some amazing things in the first movie with it, but I think we all agree we only just scratched the surface there. There’s so much more to go. So much of that movie was about learning that this technology exists, learning how to use it, learning what it means. This movie starts, and everybody knows that already.”
But for Reed, as much as he is invested in telling a good story with all the fun elements of shrinking and growing, he’s a true fan of comics, so there is a legitimate excitement to bring the unlikeliest of Super Heroes to the forefront in fun, inventive ways that are both relatable and accessible. “I love the Ant-Man universe,” admits Reed. “It’s not taking place in outer space or Asgard. It’s the real mundane, normal world. But we get to experience it from these weird, radically different perspectives. That is what’s really fun about the ‘Ant-Man’ films. There’s something really childlike about Ant-Man’s power set because it puts you down on the floor where kids play with action figures.”
Adds Feige about the excitement of finally putting Ant-Man and The Wasp on screen, “We wanted to deliver on the promise at the end of ‘Ant-Man.’ When you look at the history of the comics, Ant-Man and The Wasp were one of the great team-ups of Marvel. We’d already touched on that a little bit in the flashback in the first film with the original Ant-Man and Wasp, and we absolutely wanted to see that now in the modern day. Hope and Scott as these two Super Heroes who couldn’t be more different is the perfect way to delve into their potential to live up to this iconic duo and pick up that mantle.”
From the beginning Paul Rudd, who is also a writer on the film, and director Peyton Reed were in sync about the film’s direction, which mirrored their collaboration on “Ant-Man.” “Ever since Peyton came on board we both agreed that we wanted to create something that was fun and original within this genre. First and foremost, laughs would be important but so would the emotional moments. You will still be wowed by the visual effects, but we’d also make them funny. I feel like we’ve always been on the same page as far as the movie we want to make, so that just allows trust for me as an actor to know that he’s getting what he needs.”
As far as the comedy moments go, they would indeed prove to be an important part of “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” and for Rudd having creative partners with similar tastes helped elevate the material in unexpected ways. “Peyton and I like weird jokes, as does Kevin Feige, Stephen Broussard and most of the Marvel team,” says Rudd. “They’re all comedy lovers, so it’s kind of nice to work on something where you can make a random Neil Hamburger reference, and the head of the studio knows what you’re talking about because nobody else does.”
With its eye-popping shrinking-and-growing action, fast-paced chases and family-friendly comedy, Ant-Man and The Wasp once again delivers a fresh, one-two punch that smacks of the MCU in an accessible and relatable way.
And that’s how director Peyton Reed always envisioned it. “It’s a fun and hopefully surprising ride,” says the director. “The visuals are stunning and the action sequences are crazy.”