Kicking off Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fast-paced, big-screen adventure Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania features all of the heart and humour fans of the MCU expect. At the heart of the story are the characters fans know and love and their down-to-earth approach to being Super Heroes.
“The Ant-Man movies have always been about family,” says director Peyton Reed. “In ‘Quantumania,’ we’re deepening and complicating the family dynamic while painting on a much larger canvas. We dipped our toe in the Quantum Realm in the first couple of movies, and this time, we wanted to give the movie an entirely different look: It’s an epic experience.”
The stakes are high, adds Reed—“Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” sets the stage for several films to follow. “That, to me, was extremely exciting,” he says. “Creating the Quantum Realm—it’s the ultimate act of world creation. The idea is that they go farther down into the Quantum Realm than we’ve seen in the previous movies. We not only had to create the look of these cities and civilizations, we had to create the internal logic and history, and then populate it with all these creatures, beings and structures.
“We pulled together a lot of visual inspiration—everything from electron microscope photography to heavy metal magazine images from the ’70s and ’80s,” continues Reed. “I collected all of these images from old science fiction paperback book covers—artists like John Harris, Paul Laird, Richard M. Powers. Those paintings were evocative and really moody. We liked that feel and tone for the look of the Quantum Realm.”
Adds producer Stephen Broussard, “It’s a subatomic inner space within the world that we know. We asked ourselves: ‘What does technology look like down here? What does society look like down here? What does religion and politics look like down here?’ I think one of the reasons why the MCU has been successful and had the longevity that it has had so far is that we view new characters and new stories as a chance to kick down the door on whole new worlds.”
According to producer Stephen Broussard, the story takes existing characters into new terrain where they encounter a host of unfamiliar faces—some friendly, some not. “‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’ is many things,” says Broussard. “It’s a family adventure first and foremost. It’s the story of a family of Super Heroes basically being pulled into an adventure within the Quantum Realm, and within that, it becomes an epic sci-fi war movie and a coming-of-age story. It’s a lot of different things wrapped into one film.”
Super Heroes Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) return to continue their adventures as Ant-Man and The Wasp. Together, with Hope’s parents Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought possible.
Taking the characters to new depths
Peyton Reed, who returns to helm the new adventure having directed the previous two movies in the “Ant-Man” lineup, knows the established characters inside-out. He was eager to take them to new depths, so to speak, while maintaining their core family-driven values. “Scott’s daughter, Cassie Lang, is now 18,” says Reed, “and Scott and Cassie’s relationship has always been a crucial part of the Ant-Man movies. His biggest motivation in life is to be a good father to his daughter, but events have kept him from spending time with her. In this movie, Scott struggles a bit because he still relates to Cassie as a kid, but she’s a young adult now. And she’s an idealist. She has her own ideas of how to conduct her life, which make for some really great dramatic and comedic tension.
“We wanted to explore the idea of secrets that family members might keep from each other,” continues Reed. “Hope and Hank rescued Janet from the Quantum Realm where she lived for 30 years. It’s easy to imagine that Hope had her own ideas about what it would be like to be reunited with her mom—sharing all these stories, learning everything about her time away. But what would happen if her mom wasn’t so willing to share all that happened down there? What would happen if she put up an emotional wall? The movie is really about this idea that you can be done with the past, but the past is never done with you.”
Writer Jeff Loveness, who was called on to help mine the Quantum Realm for the new story, was intrigued by the opportunity to take Ant-Man and The Wasp out of San Francisco and into an unknown, terrifying new world. “When I first met with Peyton [Reed] and Marvel, we got so excited about making this epic, massive, adventure movie with the Super Hero you might least expect to be in it. From the beginning, the idea was to put them up against an Avengers-level threat, the next major villain of the MCU, Kang the Conqueror—but it’s just Scott, Hope and their families.”
For Broussard, the character story arcs are key to storytelling. “One of our philosophies that we’ve always applied at the studio is to just go back to character and to root it in character, and the science-fiction and the world-building is fun but ultimately it’s window dressing to the characters who are on this journey. I think as long as we never forget that this is a story about a father and his daughter reconnecting, which essentially is what this film is, then the headiness of the multiverse, the headiness of the Quantum Realm sorts itself out because you only need to understand that it’s a father-and-daughter story.”
“Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” is a stand-alone movie with a storyline that will have a significant impact on the future of the MCU. Says Broussard, “We talk about movies like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” in which you saw the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it felt like the entirety of the MCU turned on that. “Captain America: Civil War” was another film where you saw heroes divided and in camps and battle lines being drawn—it really felt like the future of the MCU was going to be defined by the action of that film. We really liked the idea of making this Ant-Man film as important and integral to the MCU going forward.”