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Ant-Man - Peyton Reed interview

Ant-Man

Interview by Rob Carnevale

PEYTON Reed talks about some of the challenges of directing Marvel’s latest superhero adventure, Ant-Man, including the changes made to Edgar Wright’s original idea – and what remained.

He also discusses his newfound respect for ants, his childhood passion for comics, why Marvel have enjoyed such massive success with their movies and what he would like to see happen in future Ant-Man movies. He was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. Did this movie give you a newfound respect for ants?
Peyton Reed: Yes, I’d like to think that I’ve always respected ants. But that level of respect has definitely increased throughout the making of the movie. It’s important to note, also, that no ants were harmed during the making of the movie in any way! Until now…

Q. The film’s had quite a protracted production history with Edgar Wright involved. Could you perhaps talk about the changes you made to the Edgar Wright version as he retains a screenwriting credit on the titles?
Peyton Reed: Well, I think it’s fair to say that none of us would be here and there might not even be an Ant-Man movie if it weren’t for Edgar and Joe [Cornish] and that should absolutely get said. So, the idea to make Ant-Man a heist movie structure was all Edgar and Joe; the idea of having Hank Pym and Scott Lang as mentor and pupil was all theirs, and also the idea of a movie that drives towards a third act where the big battle between the good guy and the bad guy takes place in a little girl’s bedroom was always there from the beginning. And I stand by the idea that I think that’s genius – I love it.

When I came on, I really came on at the same time that Adam [McKay] and Paul [Rudd] were starting to do re-writes on the draft. And really it was sort of taking what existed. Adam and I bonded over the fact that we were both kids who grew up reading those comics. I probably spent untold hours on my own in my bedroom reading those comics. And it was the same for Adam. So, there was an element that had been in the comics that had not made their way into this script that we wanted to bring to it. And I think we also wanted to heighten the heist idea and add more of the heist movie language, in terms of the visual language of the movie.

Also, it wasn’t lost on me that Hank Pym in the comics was such a complicated character and we had a very complicated man playing that character. We had Michael Douglas, who has made an amazing career out of playing characters with a lot of grey area. So, to really deepen that character. And another thing that always appealed to me was the idea that at the centre of this movie are two fathers and two daughters and there was a lot of sort of emotionality to be mined from that. So, Adam and Paul worked incredibly hard in doing the re-writes and then when we were in production Paul continued to work with our production writers. So, really it was an evolution but I have to say that I really think the spirit of what Edgar and Joe created in the beginning is still very much a part of the DNA of the movie.

Q. Does your heist movie construct signal a new trend in the Marvel universe going forward into a sub-genre style of film?
Peyton Reed: I don’t know if this signals a trend in Marvel. I think they’ve always done these sub-genres. I think it’s one of the things that keep the Marvel movies so interesting. If you look at last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and what it owes to sort of a ‘70s political thriller, or paranoia thriller, and Guardians of the Galaxy, which came out the same year, is this crazy Gonzo space opera. And our movie happens to have the structure of a heist movie.

But that’s one of the things that Marvel has really done… sometimes you’ll talk to Kevin Feige and he’s like: “Well, we don’t make superhero movies; we make genre movies.” And I think it’s been a very smart thing.

Q. What were some of your favourite stories from the comics you read growing up?
Peyton Reed: I always loved the original Hank Pym from ’62 on up. I love the relationship between Hank and Janet and the fact they were an amazing superhero duo – but also the romance between those two characters was also fascinating. But also the fact that with Hank Pym there was always a little bit of schizophrenia and maybe a little bit of an inferiority complex because in The Avengers he was fighting alongside Thor and The Hulk and he always felt inadequate. As we know in the comics he changed his identity a lot and I always found that fascinating. So, those years to me were great.

Q. The Marvel movies always have a light touch to them but this one, in particular, is extremely funny. Is that something you’re going to stick with? Or will you go darker?
Peyton Reed: Where’s Kevin Feige? Listen, I’m hoping audiences will respond to this movie and if we’re fortunate enough to be able to make another Ant-Man movie I think there’s a lot of story left to tell with these characters. And I think there’s also a freedom at Marvel to tonally do whatever we think is best for the story. So, this one happens to be kind of comedic and a heist movie in terms of the structure and tone, and I think there’s a portion of Ant-Man that will always have a comedic element to it. But I like the idea that we could invent an entirely different field for a sequel, if we’re fortunate enough.

Q. What themes would you like to explore in Ant-Man 2 if you get the chance?
Peyton Reed: Well, I happen to have a chart in my pocket… oh, I left it in my room [says sarcastically]. But seriously, I think we get to the end of this movie and there are questions about what may or may not happen to these characters. In terms of Scott Lang, he’s become Ant-Man for the purpose of this heist, but what next? There’s definitely some hints in the movie and we also know that Paul will appear as Scott in Captain America: Civil War, which is very exciting!

If you could have heard Paul’s voice when he had finished the first day of shooting on that movie – he was very excited! Speaking about Evangeline Lily’s character, Hope’s journey is every bit as important as Scott’s. Particularly at the end of this movie she’s finally going to have her chance to be a hero as well and I think it’s exciting to try and imagine what might happen with her. And as far as Hank Pym, he’s been obsessed in the past with exploring the quantum realm and trying to figure out if he could save his wife, without having been able to, there are things that happen in the end of this movie that might re-ignite that obsession. It remains to be seen whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Read our review of Ant-Man