With Ant-Man set to be released in just a few weeks, Kevin Feige and star Paul Rudd are starting to open up more about what we can expect from the film, as well as the bumpy road they experienced leading up to the final project.
For those of you that read the Ant-Man set visit report round-up we posted yesterday – just a heads up, you’ll want to avoid it if you’re trying to remain spoiler free – you’ll know that Feige has been rather revealing when it comes to this film. He has teased the appearance of a character many fans have been curious about, he’s also discussed a rumored flashback scene, as well as the relationship between Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). He also talked about Ant-Man‘s long journey to the big screen.
When Marvel Studios first started up, they originally planned on releasing Iron Man, Hulk, and Ant-Man. Of course, as fans know, that plan fell through. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were released as planned, but they then went on to release Iron Man 2 followed by Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger — all of which led to 2012’s The Avengers.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Feige explains what led to Ant-Man being delayed.
Back in 2006, you announced Iron Man, Hulk and Ant-Man as your initial trio of movies. But then you moved on to Thor, Captain America and Avengers. Why did Ant-Man get sidelined?
FEIGE: That Comic-Con 2006 was less than 10 frickin’ years ago, but it feels like 50 years ago. That was the first time we had ever gone as our own studio. That Comic-Con was really about us trying to show people we were serious. But it’s not quite accurate to say that Ant-Man has been actively in development for all that time. Edgar [Wright] had done a draft, and then nothing happened for two or three or four years. Then he’d do another draft, and another two to three years would go by. It wasn’t until two years ago, we said, “Hey, let’s make this movie.”
So why do Ant-Man now as opposed to one of the other characters?
FEIGE: If the stars had aligned, we would have made it earlier. Ant-Man will be our 12th Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Even when we had done only five or six, it was very clear that Ant-Man was going to be slightly different. It was an opportunity to tell a more intimate story. We’ve never had a hero whose origin involved him having a daughter as a motivating factor for his redemption. And when you’ve had aliens pouring into Manhattan, artificial intelligence robots lifting cities out of the ground to annihilate mankind, supersoldiers, Norse gods and dark elves, there’s a lot of action going on. So the notion of shrinking down, to have an arena that is not another city or an entire planet or a fictional place like Asgard but is a bathtub, or is a rug, or is a little girl’s play set – that felt like a great opportunity to deliver Marvel’s thrills and action in a totally different way.
Leading into production, the film was under a microscope by fans, worried about how it would turn out after the loss of director Edgar Wright. Wright had spent years developing the film for Marvel, and to see him leave the film for creative differences made fans wary of the project. Even now, less than a month out from release, some can’t help but to think about how Wright’s movie would have turned out.
When asked about losing Wright, and what led to Marvel taking so long to finally make Ant-Man, Feige was rather open about the situation.
Let’s talk about what happened last spring. Kevin, you decided the script wasn’t right. But other studios have been in the same situation and decided to move forward anyway.
FEIGE: Well, we’ve done that before, and sometimes that can work, and sometimes it’s more difficult. But with Edgar, it was mutual. People said, “You guys have been working together for 10 years; why did you only figure it out a couple of months before you started filming?” But that’s really not true. We’d been working on it for about nine months, maybe a year at most. And it became apparent to him and to us that the best thing to do was to move on. But because Edgar has a fan base and Marvel has a fan base, there’s good and bad that comes with that high profile. And one of the bads is that internal decisions and shuffles get headlines.
Paul, did you think the movie was falling apart?
RUDD: Kevin assured me that it wasn’t. And within days, I was here sitting in offices right down the hall, kind of formulating the next steps, meeting new directors.
Why did you and Adam McKay then decide to rewrite the screenplay yourselves?
RUDD: When we were talking about other directors, Adam came in. He’s a friend of mine. We talked about some things in that meeting, and then walked outside, and Adam and I spent 20 minutes or so in the parking lot talking about possibilities. It felt like we were building room additions on a house that Edgar and Joe had done.
Now that we’re less than a month away from the release of Ant-Man, Marvel has started to ramp up their marketing, releasing new numerous TV spots and stills from the film, highlighting the relationship between fathers and daughters – Scott & Cassie and Hank & Hope. When asked if that was something that was always part of the story, Feige explains that it was always there, and that it has been enhanced “in many ways”.
The movie’s really about fathers and daughters. Was that something that was always there?
FEIGE: That was there. I think they enhanced it in many ways. But that goes back to the comics — the relationship between Scott Lang and his daughter, Cassie, is key to his origin in the late ’70s in the comics. And the addition of Hope Van Dyne as Hank Pym’s daughter is something that was in those early drafts from Edgar and Joe in the beginning.
RUDD: These two guys are birds of a feather in many regards. If Scott is experiencing some of these things with his daughter, Hank can be maybe a few steps ahead of the game, but have the same kind of dynamic. It just seemed like interesting parallel stories to focus on, this idea of struggles that parents and kids have.
Given that Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe concluded with 2012’s The Avengers, many fans assumed that this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron would see the conclusion of Phase Two. Instead, to everyone’s surprise, it will be next month’s Ant-Man that closes out one phase and leads into the next. Below, both Rudd and Feige explain how Ant-Man manages to work as a stand-alone film while still moving the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward going into Phase Three.
And how do you strike a balance between Ant-Man being a stand-alone movie and also having connections to the other movies?
FEIGE: Ant-Man is one of the best examples of how a movie can do both. It’s absolutely a stand-alone film about Hank Pym and Scott Lang, but it is within this universe.
RUDD: Essentially, this is a heist film, and if you look at the structure of heist films, there is always a test run and the test run fails. In talking about what could be a good test run, we were just playing around with conversations and thought, “Oh my God, what if he actually fought an Avenger?” We started getting really giddy about this idea. It seemed like that would be a fun way to incorporate the universe into this film.
Spoiler Warning: One thing that is worth noting concerning Rudd’s quote above is that director Peyton Reed teased the possibility of a certain cameo recently. (You can read more about that here.) While said cameo hasn’t been officially confirmed, Reed’s statements and Rudd’s quote above make it seem as though it’s pretty much a go.
How does Ant-Man fit into what you call the Phase Three cycle of Marvel movies?
FEIGE: It really is the movie that closes out Phase Two. Phase One ended with Avengers. So some people thought that Phase Two would end with an Avengers film. But the truth is, there is so much in Ant-Man: introducing a new hero, introducing a very important part of technology in the Marvel universe, the Pym particles. Ant-Man getting on the Avengers’ radar in this film and even – this is the weirdest part, you shouldn’t really talk about it because it won’t be apparent for years – but the whole notion of the quantum realm and the whole notion of going to places that are so out there, they are almost mind-bendingly hard to fathom. It all plays into Phase Three. It became very clear that Ant-Man is the pinnacle and finale of Phase Two and Captain America: Civil War [May 6] is the start of Phase Three.
Do you keep a bible of how all the movies are connected?
FEIGE: People think we have a whole big story, but really what we are doing right now is producing 10 individual stand-alone movies that have to work and play on their own. Our sandbox is full of Marvel characters, so it makes sense to pull from that. So that often happens. We need a character to get from A to B. Should he encounter a policeman? Should he encounter a banker? Should he encounter another superhero? It just opens up our creative avenues to explore and to tie them together.
After Wright’s departure last year, it seemed to take forever before Marvel finally found a director to step in and replace him. In fact, they’d found a director for Doctor Strange, which hadn’t been officially confirmed at that point, before they’d found a new director for Ant-Man. After what felt like months, it was finally announced that Peyton Reed, who’d worked on films such as Bring It On and Yes Man, would take over for Wright. To many fans, this seemed like a strange choice, but what they hadn’t realized was that Reed had been on Feige’s radar for some time.
Peyton Reed hasn’t directed anything like this before. Why did you turn to him?
FEIGE: When I was a lowly man on the Marvel totem pole many years ago, he was attached to direct a version of Fantastic Four at 20th Century Fox. That version of the movie didn’t end up going forward. Peyton came very, very close to doing Guardians of the Galaxy for us. So when this came together, he ended up coming in and was 50 percent very enthusiastic to do a movie with us and 50 percent skeptical, but he read all the drafts and heard some of the new ideas we were already talking about with Paul and with Adam. Thankfully, he signed up.
A hot topic during the interview was the Spider-Man deal between Marvel and Sony. As you’re all aware by now, Marvel officially announced Tom Holland landed the role yesterday, as well as the news that Jon Watts would be directing the untitled Spider-Man film set to hit movie theaters in 2017. Since then, plenty of reports have hit the internet, breaking down the casting process for the web-slinger.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Feige explained how the deal between Marvel and Sony will work for Spider-Man, as well as their relationship with Sony.
After Civil War, how much will Marvel be involved in Sony’s Spider-Man movie?
FEIGE: Well, we’re producing it for Sony. It’s exciting, and we’re treating it like we treat all of our films. To try to make the best version now of Spider-Man and a version of Spider-Man that inhabits this universe that we’ve created. We’re in lockstep with [Sony Motion Picture Group chairman] Tom Rothman and [producer] Amy Pascal at every turn.
So some of your Marvel characters will show up in the Sony Spider-Man movies?
FEIGE: Specifics of the story aside, the agreement that has been made between Sony and Marvel is that we could do that.
Do you risk giving up any of your autonomy by working with Sony?
FEIGE: Without getting into the contracts, it’s definitely a Sony picture, produced by Marvel Studios. We’ve been working with each other for a number of months now. It’s been just as healthy as any of our internal discussions. We just look at it as having additional team members. We wouldn’t want to do it if we couldn’t do it in the way we’ve done all the other movies, and I think that’s what Sony wants from us.
One of the more interesting bits of the interview is towards the end, when The Hollywood Reporter asks Feige about directors for Captain Marvel and Black Panther, as well as confirming that he has in fact met with director Ava DuVernay.
A while back, before the writers were announced for the Captain Marvel movie, it was speculated that we could hear the names of the directors for both Captain Marvel and Black Panther by the end of this summer. This seemed to make sense, especially considering that come May, reports started to make their way online of directors that Marvel was meeting with for Black Panther. (As of right now, the only names that have been possibly attached to Captain Marvel are Ava DuVernay and Angelina Jolie.)
Nothing has really come about concerning Captain Marvel since the writers were announced, other than a rumor that put actress Charlize Theron in the title role, though that rumor was seemingly nothing more than just that – a rumor having originated from a gossip magazine.
But even though things have been quiet, it looks as though Marvel will finally be able to reveal some news regarding Black Panther relatively soon. When asked how far along they are selecting directors for Captain Marvel and Black Panther, Feige said we could have an official announcement by the end of the summer.
How far away are you from picking directors for Black Panther and Captain Marvel?
FEIGE: I think by the end of the summer, we’ll have most of those things. Black Panther especially.
He also goes on to confirm having met with DuVernay.
Ava DuVernay has been mentioned as a director for Black Panther. Is she under consideration?
FEIGE: We’ve met with her for sure. We’ve met with a number of people for a number of movies. She has been one of them.
Which was a follow-up question to this one:
Would you have liked to have had a woman director on one of these movies by now?
FEIGE: I think it will happen sooner rather than later, without giving too much away. But you look back sometimes, and it’s just the nature of this industry, or the nature of the culture. But there’s a big shift happening. What’s exciting about Marvel, go back and look at the source material: It’s been diverse in a cutting-edge way going back to the ’60s, and I think we’ve represented that effortlessly and accurately in the movies we’ve made up to this point, but certainly with Black Panther and Captain Marvel doing it in a much more overt and purposeful way.
So there you have it, we should have the official confirmation of the director for Black Panther from Marvel by the end of the summer — and from what we’ve heard, it’s DuVernay.
Ant-Man opens on July 17th, 2015.
As always, for all things Ant-Man, be sure to follow along here.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter.