For the most part, the Ant-Man and the Wasp film franchise is an epilogue set after the Avengers film. These films weren’t so much concerned about being a part of what was happening leading up to the Avengers but more about the family dynamics within the MCU. But that all changes with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” as it takes the underestimated hero to a place unfamiliar to all of us. Not only do we get to see the two title characters, Cassie Lang, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, in the Quantum Realm, but the film is also the first chapter of Phase 5. As such, their place within the story arc will have a profound impact on the Multiverse Saga.
ThatsItLA had the chance to participate in the virtual press conference for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The cast, including Jonathan Majors, spoke about their respective characters and place within Phase 5. Also, Feige talked about the Quantum Realm and how Rudd helped shape it. And director Peyton Reed spoke about how the theme of family plays a pivotal role in the three Ant-Man films.
1 – Let’s Be A Family of Superheroes
Marvel Studios films are more than generic superhero films in a shared universe. Each hero fits into a specific subgenre that helps give the MCU more depth and nuance. And you can find themes of family at the core of the “Ant-Man” film franchise. “The ‘Ant-Man’ films have really always been about family. It is a generational story about a family of heroes and Scott Lang, who is not a billionaire super scientist, and I think, getting sucked into this world. And Hope Van Dyne, the legacy daughter of two superheroes, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer,” Reed said. “So it’s this generational thing. And now, young Cassie Lange, who is probably Scott’s biggest motivating factor for spending time with his daughter, wants to be a hero.
While Phase 4 introduced new characters and new heroes to the MCU, Phase 5 kicks off with seeing a family of heroes that were already beloved by many and utilize them in such a way that shows their vulnerability and relatability. As such, the everyday family is likely underestimated by a villain as powerful as Kang. “Who better to face off against one of if not the biggest villains the MCU has ever faced than this family who you might think could not handle it,” Feige said.
2 – Like Daughter Like Father
And as the saying goes, like daughter, like father. That’s true for Cassie, who appears to take after her father’s sense of right and wrong even if fighting for social change lands her in jail. “Even though she’s really smart, I don’t think she thinks too much about what she’s doing. She just wants to do the right thing. And it makes her really impatient and a lot like me. And that makes her kind of a mess and makes mistakes, but she just wants to be like her dad,” Newton said. “You know, she thinks her dad’s the greatest. But she will never tell him that. Honestly, it was great to try and exercise both of those, and my favorite thing is that she’s a regular person, just like her dad. She’s still figuring it out, just like me.”
3 – A New Hope
Hope’s character arc reaches a new point in the “Ant-Man” film franchise now that her family is whole again. “Well, hope started the first ‘Ant-Man’ film, a very cold, detached, very isolated woman,” Evangeline Lilly said. “And over the course of these three films, I’ve had this incredible arc to be able to play where she has, in that time, repaired her relationship with her father, she’s reunited with her long lost mother, she’s fallen madly in love with Scott, and she’s become a stepmom to Cassie.”
“So her life is just full of relationships, and it’s full of love,” Lilly continued. “She is really like a blossomed version of the woman that we met. And you see that in the work that she’s doing in the world. She’s thriving and taking that love and spreading it around by trying to do right in the world and fix issues that are massive.
While she is a successful businesswoman who has found happiness, Lilly says that Hope’s life still has a “missing piece” to it. “She had always fantasized about her mum coming home one day. And I think because that fantasy started when she was eight years old, it was like, ‘we’re going to be best friends. And she’s going to tell me everything, and we’re just going to be so close,’ she said. ‘And then she really keeps Hope on the outside. And, that’s a wound that is festering at the beginning of the film.’
4 – Building a Better Villain
Marvel Comics has no shortage of villains that would be considered strange. That is especially true for the character of MODOK, aka Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. The MCU version of the villain has a different origins story from its comic book counterpart, but the large head for a body and baby-sized limbs remains the same. But don’t let his appearance fool you, as the villain has a whole arsenal of weapons at his disposal.
So what did it take for Reed to take the MODOK from the comics to the big screen? Well, it came from his love for the character. “For me, it was it was a personal thrill. I was a kid who spent a lot of my childhood alone in a room reading Marvel comics, and MODOK was always this insane character,” he said. “He’s grotesque. He’s a giant head that has been turned into a Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. That was intriguing. So we started talking about if there is a place in the MCU or the Ant-Man movies for a live-action version of MODOK. What would that look like, and how do we go about it?”
5 – Building the Quantum Realm
When it comes to the Quantum Realm, no one outside the Marvel Studios’ circle really knew much about it. So during the three-and-a-half-year production process, the director based the visuals on a number of things, from cinema and magazine covers to electron microscope images.
According to Reed, among some of the other cinematic inspirations that helped shape the look and feel of the Quantum Realm are The Wizard of Oz, Flash Gordon, and Barbarella. The director also “looked at everything from electron microscope photography to things like heavy metal magazine in the 70s and 80s.” There are even some Mobius inspirations.
6 – The Quantum Mechanics of the Quantum Realm
Rudd talked about visiting it. “I was sort of reminded recently that this was an idea that Paul had early on before we started filming the first ‘Ant-Man’ film, to what if we explore the Quantum mechanics of the Quantum Realm,” Feige said. “Things act very differently at the quantum level, and Paul was talking about the amount of storytelling and imagination and fun that you could have there.”
Sure enough, the Quantum Realm is unlike any place the MCU has explored before. As such, the film embraces the weirdness of it all. “It is a place that is on the subatomic level, where space and time act differently,” Feige added. “There is an entire universe below the surface where we meet all sorts of fun, crazy.”
7 – Come Forth The Conqueror
It’s no secret that Majors plays a significant role in the MCU as the primary villain of the Multiverse Saga. Playing a character like Kang the Conquerer, whose variants allow the actor to play multiple versions of Kang with varying degrees. But he learned to play all these different versions of Kang by studying his co-stars. “In Loki, I’m dealing with Tom. It was great. He Who Remains and Tom. I got to watch him the whole time. This opportunity came to me in lockdown. And so I studied Tom Hiddleston four hours a day,” Majors said. “Then, when that was done, I went okay. Paul Rudd, you’re up.”
“I studied on all his hero colleagues and compatriots. And when you speak to your director and even your producers, because as a culture to it. You lean into the culture,” Majors said. “He’s an everyday man. You know, there’s a line that He Who Remains says, ‘you know, just flesh and blood.’ Kanghas to relate to him first, as a man, as a human being. You’re really sold to them as a human being, then we can combat that I can get him to do what I need them to do, perhaps.”
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” opens in theaters on February 17, 2023.
Watch Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer here.