HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with ‘Ant-Man & The Wasp’ director Peyton Reed about bringing Wasp center stage with Evangeline Lilly, a standalone movie for Wasp, casting Michelle Pfeiffer, and more!
Ant-Man & The Wasp, now in theaters, is ready to take the summer by storm. The highly-anticipated sequel to the 2015 hit Marvel movie comes just two months after the release of Avengers: Infinity War. Ant-Man & The Wasp is the first Marvel movie to feature a female superhero in the title, and the movie focuses on the evolution of The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly).
Director Peyton Reed talked EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about his discussions with Evangeline regarding Hope/Wasp’s journey in the sequel. He also revealed he’s totally down for a Wasp standalone movie and believes there’s an “infinite amount of stories to be told” in the MCU. Plus, he said that casting Michelle Pfeiffer was a “dream come true.” Check out our full Q&A below!
Was The Wasp taking center stage always the intention with the second Ant-Man film? And was it a draw for you to come back for the sequel?
Peyton Reed: Well, it really was always part of the plan. It’s never guaranteed you’re going to be able to make a second one of these movies. But we definitely set things in motion in the first movie, that if we were lucky enough to get to make a second one, we knew that we wanted to put Wasp center stage. It was going to be called Ant-Man & The Wasp, for a couple of reasons. One was that in the comics, very early on, they were a partnership. And as a kid reading those comics, that was important to me. But it also was a huge part of the narrative of the first film. Hope Van Dyne is the one who trained Scott Lang in the first movie. We ended up with her father showing her the suit and everything. Even when we weren’t sure what our whole story was going to be structurally, we knew we wanted it to be about this partnership between Ant-Man and Wasp, and to have fun with that dynamic.
It’s truly a partnership between them. Were there specific ways you and Evangeline went about this so that she didn’t appear as a sidekick, but as Ant-Man’s equal partner?
Peyton Reed: I think it started organically because we’re obviously a sequel to Ant-Man, but we’re also kind of a sequel to Captain America: Civil War, in terms of Scott Lang. But what really made sense to us was starting them estranged as a result of that, with it really being Hope’s journey because of the mission to potentially rescue her mother from the Quantum Realm. It’s such an intensely personal mission, and that’s something that really drives the movie. And Hope is ready to do it. There’s no doubt that Hope would have simply done the mission if they hadn’t needed this specific piece of information that Scott Lang possesses. The idea that she has to reluctantly bring Scott in on this begs the whole question of… I don’t think she probably thought she needed a partner at the beginning of this movie. And if she did, I don’t know that she would thought of Scott as the first choice. And that seemed like a fun dynamic and gave us a lot to work with.
Evangeline is so great. She really just owns it in this movie. Do you think The Wasp should get her own standalone movie?
Peyton Reed: Personally, I think she should get her own standalone movie. I think she should run the Avengers. I think she should do all these things. Evangeline and I started talking, even as far back as the first movie, about what would happen when she gets the suit and when she becomes a full-fledged hero. We talked about everything from what type of hero she was going to be, what were the particular injustices that launched her as a hero. She talked from the beginning about, “I don’t want to always be glam. I want to be a working woman hero. I want to sweat when I fight. I want my hair to be in a simple ponytail that makes sense when the wings come up and down.” And she has a very, very, very, specific attitude about being a hero. The fact that Evangeline, I think, had such specific ideas about every aspect of this character — the way she moves, the way she fights — I think it really helped ground this character, and the movie in that way.
One of the biggest and most important relationships centered around Hope is her relationship with her father, Hank. He’s such a interesting character, and there’s still so much more story to tell with him. Would you be interested in a prequel?
Peyton Reed: A prequel was something we talked about from the first film. When I first showed Michael Douglas the young version of himself in the prologue in the first movie, he was really blown away and his wheels started turning about, “Man, I know I’m in my 70s, but my career could go on for decades. You guys should have the formula. You could just make Michael Douglas movies forever.” But for me, I love that era. Those are the comics I grew up on, the Janet Van Dyne, Hank, and Wasp. So I certainly would not rule that out. And it’s one of the cool things that the MCU has done is, in this whole umbrella of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it allows you to tell these stories in different time periods and all of that stuff and explore all of these different corners of the MCU, which I think is really cool. There’s just an infinite amount of stories to be told.
Tell me about getting Michelle Pfeiffer to come on and play another iconic comic book character. I loved Batman Returns growing up, so seeing her back in a role like this is really satisfying.
Peyton Reed: For me, it really was a dream come true because she was, even as far back as the first movie when we had that little flashback and you only saw her eyes through the mask, I was like, “Whoever we’re going to use for the eyes in this version of Janet van Dyne, she should look like Michelle Pfeiffer.” So when it came time to do the second movie, and we actually got Michelle Pfeiffer, I was thrilled. Because I’ve watched her movies for so many years, and I’ve always been struck by her. She really can do comedy, she can do drama. Married to the Mob is one of my favorite movies. She’s just got such range. I really believe that she can do anything as an actor. So I had her in and we met, just the two of us, at the Marvel offices in one of the conference rooms early on, and talked about this world and this character, and the evolution of this character. She got really into it, and her enthusiasm for what this character could be. Again, I really wanted her involved and talking about the aspect of, not only the character of Janet back in the day, but what Janet has become in the course of our movie.
She’s so electrifying in whatever she does and that’s why I loved her as Catwoman, and now I love her as Janet. The Ant-Man movies, for me, they exist in their own little, tiny universe contained within the huge Marvel universe. It takes place after Civil War, but it’s not like you have all of these different Avengers coming in. It gives you guys some room to breathe. What’s that been like for you as a director to have that space, to tell the stories you want to tell?
Peyton Reed: The Ant-Man movies really are ideal for me. I think that they’re more intimate in terms of the characters that we’re dealing with. I like the idea that we’re not only this little corner of the MCU, but from the beginning, Scott Lang has always been the mystery man of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not that he’s not special and not heroic. He’s absolutely heroic and capable. But he’s not supersized. He doesn’t have billions of dollars at his disposal, and he really is more reflective of the audience, I think, than any of the other heroes in the MCU. He’s just trying to find balance in his life. He constantly gets pulled back into these larger, more science-fiction-based situations from the research that Hank and Hope are doing. That’s fun to me. It’s more fun, and I think it’s more relatable. I always liked that about Marvel, in the comics and in the movies.
The first movie came out right after Age of Ultron. This one’s coming out right after Infinity War. Do you like it to be this sort of follow-up movie, in a sense? Or do you find yourself feeling a little bit of pressure there?
Peyton Reed: I actually love it. It’s the same dynamic as three years ago. I really like this because we come out of the shadow of the big Avengers movies. Generally, the tone of those two movies has been darker. I do find that it’s a great space to occupy. I feel like it’s one of the cool things about what Marvel’s done. You can do these movies that have radically different tones and feels. It’s just a different thing. The thing that really is interesting to me about the Ant-Man movies, and particularly Ant-Man & The Wasp, is they’re about family, and they’re generational stories. [Scott Lang] is one of few characters who has a mentor figure who’s from another era of superheroes. That’s really, really fun to play around with, particularly when you have Michael Douglas and now Michelle Pfeiffer.