On July 17, Marvel Studios reveals its newest superhero, Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd. The larger -- or, well, smaller-than-life hero -- is a career criminal named Scott Lang whose latest gig finds him in possession of a special suit that allows him to shrink down to the size of an ant while gaining tremendous power.
So what's the deal with Ant-Man, and how does he fit into a larger cinematic universe that also includes the Avengers? We sat down with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige to get the skinny on the tiniest hero to date.
Is Ant-Man Marvel's most family-friendly movie yet?
One thing that separates Ant-Man from the other Marvel movies is that it centers on a hero who has a little daughter. That family dynamic -- not to mention Lang's quest to strengthen the estranged relationship between him and his little girl -- is at the heart of the movie, and it also helps make it their most family-friendly adventure yet.
"We didn’t set out to make a family-friendly movie – though I think all of our films are to a certain extent within that PG-13 boundary – but I think you’re right that the fun of this film and the inclusion of the family elements of this film make it particularly appropriate," Feige says.
"It’s PG-13 like all of our films have been, and I think certainly the relationship that Scott has with his six-year-old Cassie – and the area in which the final battle takes place, which is her bedroom – I guess could make it feel that way. I think that’s nice – one of the things that attracted us to this version of the Ant-Man story was having a hero whose origin story involved the desire to spend time with his child. That seemed unique and interesting."
Family-friendly Fun Fact: Is the little girl featured in Ant-Man based on Kevin Feige's own daughter? Maybe...
Feige: "It is coincidental, but I’ll mention that I have a six-year-old daughter right now who just lost both of her front teeth just like Cassie did in the movie. So that made it more poignant and personal for me."
So how did they age Michael Douglas back 30 years?
One particularly memorable moment in Ant-Man reveals a version of Michael Douglas from 30 years ago. No, they didn't find another actor to play him -- instead, Marvel utilized some effects wizardry to essentially de-age Douglas so that he looked more like late-'80s Douglas than 2015 Douglas.
How did they do it?
"I have a flux capacitor!" Feige jokes.
In all seriousness, though, Feige tells us much of the tech used to age Douglas back 30 years is what was also utilized in past Marvel movies.
"We used very similar technology to what we did to make Steve Rogers skinny in the first act of Captain America: The First Avenger and to make Peggy Carter really old in Captain America: The Winter Soldier – and the technology has come along so well that you’re able to do these amazing things," he says.
"In the case of Michael Douglas, there are lots of references. There’s not speculation or family photos to try to figure out what the actor looked like 30 years ago. There’s an amazing amount of footage, so that was very helpful."
For those curious to know what he looks like before seeing the movie, think 1987-ish Michael Douglas... like Fatal Attraction Michael Douglas.
The real story behind that awesome Avengers cameo
If you watch one of the latest Ant-Man TV spots closely (see above), you'll spot a cameo from a certain Avenger, namely the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Falcon doesn't just show up for a quick line before flying away -- he's actually an integral part of the movie and stars in one of its greatest scenes.
Feige explains how the scene came together.
It's the perfect scene for a heist movie
"That came about in a really natural way, and it was actually the idea of Paul Rudd and Adam McKay," Feige says. "Peyton Reed had pointed out that in heist films, there’s usually a preheist. There’s usually a little adventure mission the characters need to go on before the primary heist – to get a tool, or get a device."
They got the idea from watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier
"It was Adam and Paul, not coincidentally, who had just seen the final version of Captain America: The Winter Soldier last year – and they said, ‘Oh man, they should have to go to get something and encounter the Falcon --- wouldn’t that be cool?’ Feige says.
The scene was a great way to tease the new Avengers facility
"I said that would be cool, and not only that but I also told them we were introducing a whole new Avengers facility at the end of Age of Ultron," Feige continues. "So not only could they encounter the Falcon, but it would make sense if he had to go to what he believed was an old Stark facility and was unaware it had now become a major Avengers facility. It sort of naturally spiraled like that."
Did they ever think of including more of the Avengers?
"Not really, no," he says. "That’s part of the fun of the shared universe, though. Filmmakers see a film and they’re like, ‘Oh I’d love to do something with this character!’"
Keep an eye out for this cool Easter egg
"If you were to freeze the frame when Ant-Man is flying over the Avengers facility, there are new landmarks and buildings in that frame that you won’t see until Captain America: Civil War," Feige says.
Hey Twitter -- Ask Kevin Feige a Question!
@ErikDavis What does he usually do on the day a movie opens?— Daniel McFadin (@danielmcfadin) June 27, 2015
So what does the head of Marvel Studios do on the day one of his movies open? Does he have any lucky-charm rituals? Specific breakfast? Costume he wears?
Okay, maybe not... but don't be surprised if Mr. Feige and friends sneak into your opening-day screening of Ant-Man....
"We’re usually working on whatever is coming next – right now it’s any combination of Civil War, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or even further development on any of the Phase Three movies. And depending on who’s around, sometimes we get a van and drive it around and sneak into theaters to see how audiences are reacting to the film."
What's Next for Marvel Studios?
Ant-Man will officially conclude what Marvel Studios refers to as its "Phase Two" movies, with the first film in "Phase Three" being next year's Captain America: Civil War. Following Cap's next outing, Marvel will once again introduce a new hero, Doctor Strange (November 4, 2016), starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Feige discussed Strange, as well as the potential for an Ant-Man sequel.
Doctor Strange -- Marvel's strangest superhero?
Marvel will introduce Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Captain America: Civil War, but their next solo movie that introduces a new hero will be Doctor Strange, due out on November 4, 2016.
Strange will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who brings a very different demeanor to the Marvel cinematic universe versus the more comedic, charismatic personas from guys like Chris Pratt (Star-Lord) and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man).
So what will Benedict Cumberbatch bring to the role?
"I like that he’s so different, and I also like that he’s an amazing actor. Doctor Strange is one of the most unique characters that we have with one of the coolest and most personal origin stories. You look at Benedict’s work and he’s just going to do an amazing job with the transition from this arrogant surgeon to the master of the mystic arts – and be that surrogate for the audience going into a very different, very unique world with a very unique set of rules for the way the universe works – playing into the multiverse and astral plane."
How Ant-Man ties directly to Doctor Strange
"The end of Ant-Man is just the beginning of [what we can expect from Doctor Strange]. In fact, that’s why we put Ant-Man at the end of Phase Two as opposed to the beginning of Phase Three, because it sets up a lot of the things you’re going to see heading into Phase Three, one of which is this mind-bending, reality-altering landscape."
Everything we know so far about Ant-Man 2
One of the first things you'll want to know after watching Ant-Man is when you can watch the character's next installment. With Marvel's upcoming slate already scheduled through 2020, does that mean Ant-Man won't get a sequel until at least then?
Keep in mind the following does contain spoilers....
Can they fit Ant-Man 2 in before 2020?
"The slate is pretty set and solidified and we’re working towards all the things we’ve announced, but we love to bob and weave – and where opportunities arise, we love to do cool stuff."
But will they?
"Spider-Man was not a part of what we announced in October, and now it is, so we remain open to adding additional things."
Do they have a story for Ant-Man 2 yet?
"We have what I think is a supercool idea for the next Ant-Man film, and if audiences want it, we’ll find a place to do it."
Okay, but will we see Ant-Man and Wasp together in the near future?
"That would be awesome – yeah, I’d love that. I love the dynamic of Ant-Man and Wasp, and I’m sure we’ll see various versions of it in the future."
Will Ant-Man and Wasp show up together in Captain America: Civil War?
"No, we’ve announced all of the characters that will be in that movie, for the most part. But we do have plans for [Wasp] both if we’re able to make another Ant-Man film and in additional cinematic-universe films." (Note: Paul Rudd's Ant-Man will appear in Civil War in an unspecified role.)
One Last Thing
Kevin Feige's Favorite Ant-Man Easter egg...
"I love all of them and they’re all sort of spoilery, but I do like Peggy Carter’s [appearance in the film]. That’s sort of an Easter egg, and I like how the continuity fits in, which is becoming quite elaborate with Peggy Carter now. She’s just this powerful woman at the head of this massive organization."