Ant-Man and the Wasp director Peyton Reed seemed more relaxed than he was when he was doing press for the first Ant-Man movie. That was until the start of our interview when I broke the news to him that Anthony Kennedy was retiring from the Supreme Court. Then, Reed — who’s never been someone to keep his progressive politics personal — reacted predictably: “Oh no. Oh, God. Oh shit.”
That aside, as far as promoting Ant-Man and the Wasp, he does sound much more relaxed. At least this time he doesn’t have to answer a hundred different versions of “What did you keep from Edgar Wright’s version of Ant-Man?” Reed acknowledges now that, for Marvel, the first film was their first public “bump in the road,” parting ways with Wright and hiring Reed to replace him on the first Ant-Man. And Reed also acknowledges that the circumstances left him with a movie that wasn’t his from the ground up and with some decisions he wouldn’t have made. (Reed makes it clear he wasn’t a fan of the villain in the first movie, Yellojacket, having basically the same powers as Ant-Man. Reed explains this is more a byproduct of how long ago that first film was developed, as all the early MCU movies seemed to go that route with their villains.)
But this time it’s Reed’s movie from the ground up. And there is a sense in this movie that he’s being allowed to let his ideas have time to breathe. Of course, that still led to a lot of tough decisions having to be made: For one, how much would Ant-Man and the Wasp tie into what we just saw happen in Avengers: Infinity War? After some ideas that Reed thought were “gimmicky,” he finally decided the route to go was “not much at all,” and just tell a clever and funny movie about Ant-Man and the Wasp. Reed says he very much enjoys being the “palate cleanser” of the MCU.
And he knows that, right now, it’s a tough time for a lot of people. And that had a whole lot to do with the tone of this movie. As Reed puts it, he wanted it to be a “joy delivery device” – a way to just take a mental break.
I’m guessing you haven’t been on social media for the Kennedy retirement news.
I have not. I’ve been in Koreatown in this dark theater looking at this ScreenX version of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Oh my God. Well, on the cheery note…
You did go after Roy Moore on Twitter and he didn’t win. Can you do something here?
I don’t know. That’s a big one. That’s awful. I literally was just in this dark theater in Koreatown, they were showing this demo of this amazing ScreenX process they do where it basically fills the sides of the screen with your peripheral vision. It’s amazing. But I was literally on media blackout for the last hour and a half.
And I ruined it for you.
Yes. Thank you very much. I’m in a great mood now. Let’s do this!
The country may be going to hell, but you have a good movie coming out.
Yes, let’s laugh our way into oblivion.
Ant-Man and the Wasp does act as a good way to watch something that’s funny and has nice people and is a good two-hour mental health break from both the real world and from what happened in Infinity War.
It makes total sense in relation to Infinity War and the environment in which we find ourselves these days. It’s bleak. And one of the many things we talked about as we were starting to do this movie was maintaining that tone and expanding that tone. And specific to Paul Rudd even, in the first movie part of the big thing for us was Paul had never really played an action hero before. So it was creating a situation where if audiences were going to accept him as an action hero. In the first third or half of the original Ant-Man, he’s more laconic and more of the straight man. And this time around, we were like, well, audiences have embraced Rudd in that role so let’s go nuts and let’s unleash him a little more – let him be more aggressively funny. So that was a big part of it.