Wait is over: to hit US screens Friday
After assembling the Avengers — twice — and traveling to space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios’ latest endeavor seems like a decidedly small affair, yet it took the studio longer to bring the incredible shrinking superhero to the big screen than it did to boot up Iron Man, enlist Captain America or nail down Thor for their cinematic debuts.
The storied history of the Ant-Man film goes back eight years when Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuss director Edgar Wright and writer Joe Cornish were originally attached to the project. After working on several drafts of the script, Marvel andWright declared lastMay before production was set to start that they had parted ways “due to differences in their vision”.
A little over a year later, Ant-Man is arriving in theaters on Friday to tell the story of how do-gooder thief Scott Lang (PaulRudd) inherited a high-tech get-up from scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). The pair teams up with Pym’s stern daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), to take down unhinged former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has a suit of his own.
Did the studio end up with the Ant-Man it wanted?
“Absolutely,” says Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. “As we had always hoped, this version stands on its own but firmly within the cinematic universe.”
Despite his status in comicbook history as a founding member of the Avengers, Ant-Man has never stood quite as tall as Spider-Man, Captain America or Hulk in the greater pop-culture realm. That’s primarily because the character isn’t quite as charismatic as Peter Parker or Tony Stark, and his superpowers are, well, a bit weird. He shrinks, expands and talks to bugs.
For the filmmakers, AntManis right where he should be.
“I liked that after Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was amazingly big with cities falling out of the sky, this was a street-level story,” says Bring It On director Peyton Reed, who was brought on after Wright’s departure. “Scott Lang is a normal guy with no powers, and he’s sucked into this bizarre world. That was a cool arc that I hadn’t really seen in aMarvel movie.”
Besides Reed’s last-minute addition, Rudd and his Anchorman writer-director pal Adam McKay were tapped to rework the script. Feige says they kept the original “spine of the story” from Wright and Cornish about a criminal recruited by an older mentor to inherit the mantle of Ant-Man.
Reed says the final version of the film incorporates several new elements, such as exploring what happens if Ant-Man shrinks to a subatomic level, expanding the role ofHopeVanDyne, introducing an encounter with an Avenger, as well as injecting a pivotal cameo by the character Janet Van Dyne, the wife of Pym who serves as the superhero Wasp in the comics.
The biggest difference for Ant-Man, which centers on Lang’s attempt to nab Cross’ technology, is that it’s as much of a family drama as it is a heist film or superhero flick.
Throughout the movie, Lang seeks to reconnect with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), after being released from prison, while Pym and Hope work to reconcile their own strained relationship.
“I was thrilled to discover in the Marvel method that there’s a lot of leeway,” says Reed.
“They encourage weird, idiosyncratic methods. AntMan is their 12th film. They haven’t done it all, but they’ve done a lot. They’re creatively hungry to do different stuff. I found that very liberating.”