Tuesday, 9 June 2015

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Production Notes For Marvel's Ant-Man.  (Possible Spoilers)

The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.”
Marvel comics first introduced Hank Pym/Ant-Man in 1962 in “Tales to Astonish #27” and later Pym appeared alongside The Avengers in the team’s debut in “Avengers #1” in 1963. Pym became Ant-Man after discovering a chemical substance—The Pym Particle—which allowed him to alter his size and possess superhuman strength. With the development of another of Pym’s technologies, Ant-Man also had the ability to control armies of ants.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new action-packed adventure brings us master thief Scott Lang as the present-day Ant-Man. After being armed by Dr. Hank Pym with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, Lang must embrace his inner hero and help Pym protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Marvel’s “Ant-Man” stars Paul Rudd (“I Love You Man,” “Role Models”) as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man; Evangeline Lilly (“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Lost”) as Hope Van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym; Corey Stoll (“House of Cards,” “The Bourne Legacy”) as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket; Bobby Cannavale (“Chef,” “Blue Jasmine”) as Paxton; Michael Peña (“End of Watch,” “American Hustle”) as Luis; Tip “T.I.” Harris (“American Gangster,” “Identity Thief”) as Dave, Wood Harris (“Above the Rim,” “Remember the Titans”) as Gale; Judy Greer (“13 Going on 30,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) as Maggie; David Dastmalchian (“The Dark Knight,” “Prisoners”) as Kurt; and Michael Douglas (“Behind the Candelabra,” “Wall Street”) as Dr. Hank Pym.

Peyton Reed directs Marvel’s “Ant-Man” with Kevin Feige, p.g.a., producing and Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Stan Lee and Edgar Wright serving as executive producers. The story is by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and the screenplay is by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd.
Director Peyton Reed’s creative team also includes Oscar® winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter, ASC (“Titanic,” “21”), production designer Shepherd Frankel (“Identity Thief,” “Horrible Bosses”), editors Dan Lebental, ACE (Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” Marvel’s “Iron Man”) and Colby Parker Jr., ACE (“Lone Survivor,” “Battleship”), costume designer Sammy Sheldon Differ (“X-Men: First Class,” “Kick Ass”), visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison (Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” “The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers”), and six time Oscar® nominee, special effects supervisor Dan Sudik ( Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Marvel’s “The Avengers”).
Get set for Marvel’s “Ant-Man” to deliver a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.

DIRECTOR ON BOARD
Bringing the story and new franchise to the forefront of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is director Peyton Reed. A lifelong fan of Marvel films and comic books, Reed explains what he liked about the source material for the film: “Ant-Man is interesting because he was one of the original Avengers, which I think a lot of people don’t know or forget,” says Reed. “I also like the fact that there is a passing of the mantle from Hank Pym to Scott Lang that sets up a great mentor-pupil dynamic between the characters. That’s a classic Marvel Comics dynamic and something that we really haven't seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.”
For the filmmakers, Peyton Reed was the perfect choice to direct Marvel’s “Ant-Man.” “I’ve been a fan of Peyton’s for a long time,” says producer Kevin Feige. “I have met and spoken to him many times over the years and we have always gotten along really well. Peyton was always high on our lists, and so when this opportunity came up, he was someone who I thought would be great for this film. He really hit the ground running and infused some great new elements into the story and tone.”


CASTING “ANT-MAN”
The themes of fatherhood, mentorship and abandonment play a big part in the relationships of the lead characters in Marvel’s “Ant-Man.” With the story of the film centering on Hank Pym and Scott Lang’s newfound partnership and relationship, the characters are grounded in their struggles with the everyday challenges of being a good father and a good mentor.
In casting the role of Scott Lang, the filmmakers chose Paul Rudd. Describing his role, Rudd says, “In the beginning of the film, my character Scott Lang has just gotten out of prison. He doesn’t know anything about Ant-Man and has nothing to do with Hank Pym. On the other hand, Pym singled him out and, quite aware of his notoriety, has been watching him with ulterior motives. He sets up a scenario where Scott has to resort to his old ways. He breaks into Hank’s house to steal some money to help pay child support for his daughter, the only person he really cares about. Unbeknownst to Scott, Hank has orchestrated the entire scenario. This brings Scott into Pym’s world where he can potentially teach Scott how to use the suit properly and steal something Pym really needs.”
“One of the things that excited me most about ‘Ant-Man’ was having Paul Rudd in the lead role,” says director Peyton Reed. “There’s nobody more likeable than Paul Rudd, but this role re-contextualizes him a little bit as an ex-con and a master thief, which was really fun to me. If you know Paul’s work, he’s done plenty of comedy work, but he’s also done a lot of dramatic work in both film and stage and he’s an amazing actor.”
For the role of Scott Lang’s mentor, Hank Pym, the filmmakers were thrilled to get iconic, veteran actor Michael Douglas. “Michael Douglas’ career has spanned decades with so many different types of amazing roles,” says Reed. “In this film his character has a rich amount of amazing baggage from his past that we wanted to play on. It’s a great reveal when you find out that there’s somebody watching and guiding Scott Lang towards this thing that turns out to be his destiny. The fact that Michael Douglas is the guy in control really takes it to another level and gives it the gravitas that we wanted.”
Douglas says that his character Hank Pym “has a sense of humor; he’s got a slight tongue-in-cheek attitude and likes to test people a little bit.” Continuing, he adds, “He’s obviously a brilliant scientist but combined with that he has military-like training in weaponry. When we meet him, he is a retired, very wealthy scientist who had a very successful biotech company, from which he has been gradually removed by his protégé, Darren Cross. Because of situations that exist, he is looking for a person that can take on his role and he picks a recent ex-convict, Scott Lang, and now he is going to teach him all the tricks of the trade of Ant-Man.”
Playing Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope, is Evangeline Lilly. “One of the main themes that I loved in the story and script was the father/daughter issues that are prevalent throughout the entire film,” says the actress. “I just don’t know if there’s anyone in the world who can say, ‘I’m completely above father/daughter issues.’ There’s just always stuff to be mined there because the relationship between a parent and a child is so complex and it lends itself to so much wonderful, relatable material within those storylines.”
Expanding on Lilly’s character, Paul Rudd adds, “Hope works at Pym Tech and she has some real issues with her dad. She’s been disappointed by him throughout her entire life. She’s going through a lot of conflicting emotions in this film, one of which is that she doesn’t really like Scott and doesn’t think he should be involved in any of this. There’s a feeling of rejection from her dad, as well as the tragic losses she’s experienced in her life.”
Corey Stoll takes on the role of Darren Cross, Hank Pym’s original protégé. Explains the director, “He was a young scientist who came up and studied under Hank Pym, but somewhere along the way he had a very different vision of how this technology could be used. Hank always saw Darren Cross as the son he never had, but he had to watch him go to the dark side causing Hank to hold back all of the technology that he could have passed down to him.”
“Hank Pym found Darren Cross at a very young age and took him under his wing,” explains Stoll. “Darren spent a lot of time at Pym Technologies growing up and he got a whiff of this other life that Hank Pym was leading as Ant-Man and the incredible technology to be able to shrink to half an inch tall. Darren became enthralled and obsessed with it and wanted to pursue it, but Hank decided to leave all that behind when he realized the ‘Pandora’s box’ that the technology would open.”
Upon leaving prison for what Scott hopes to be the last time, he reconnects with his old friend and former cellmate Luis, played by Michael Peña. Affable, loyal Luis is a good friend but still has dreams of making the heist of a lifetime—with help from trying-to-go-straight Scott. This dynamic leads to some great humor between the characters but as producer Kevin Feige relates there is more to Luis than meets the eye. “We meet Luis at the beginning of the film,” says Feige. “He’s a lot of fun and provides what you think is some of the best comic relief of the movie. But over the course of the film, by the end, you see him step into this role of heroism. And one of the themes of the movie is when people believe in you, it inspires you to do the right thing.”
Rounding out the talented group of actors is Judy Greer, as Scott Lang’s ex-wife and mother of his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson); Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, a local police officer who is also Maggie’s new man; Wood Harris as Gale, Paxton’s partner; and Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave and David Dastmalchian as Kurt, both ex-cons who become part of Scott’s team to pull off the heist.


“ANT-MAN” COMES TO LIFE
Although Marvel’s “Ant-Man” was principally shot in Atlanta, production actually kicked off in San Francisco, which would serve as the backdrop for the film. With Pym Technologies being a hi-tech company, San Francisco and its Silicon Valley seemed like a natural fit in the story. It also allowed the filmmakers to shoot in a city that has not been seen before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“’Ant-Man’ is a very different kind of a Marvel film,” explains producer Kevin Feige. “This is very much a Marvel film set within the heist genre. San Francisco is an amazing city visually and when you think of the great films that have taken place here in the past, it just felt like a great convergence of a new idea for a genre, a new city, and all the new characters in the world of Scott Lang and Hank Pym.”
Following San Francisco, the production settled into Pinewood Studios’ newly built facilities in Atlanta and Marvel’s “Ant-Man” became the very first movie to film there. The stages of Pinewood Atlanta would also serve up another first: the first time the cast and crew would get to see Paul Rudd in his full Ant-Man suit. “When Paul first walked on set in the Ant-Man suit, I said to myself, and I’m biased, but I think it’s the most badass suit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” declares director Peyton Reed. “The great thing about it is you feel the history of that suit. It’s got battle damage on the helmet and you look at that suit and think of all the stuff Hank Pym probably went through in that suit. It’s so detailed and you look at it and it really makes sense. You feel like you can figure out how that would work and how this spreads the Pym Particles around. It’s very plausible.”
So, what happens when Scott Lang dons the Ant-Man suit? He can instantly shrink down, but when he does, his power grows exponentially. As the director explains, “Ant-Man becomes very dense when he’s small, so I could be a bad guy sitting here holding the gun on somebody and suddenly ‘Wham!’ something flies in and knocks my tooth out. It’s Ant-Man flying through the air and launching into my tooth with the full power of a guy actually punching me. So that’s something new and interesting. He’s like a bullet and you don’t see him coming.”
Reed adds, “The other thing about him is that it’s not just a matter of he shrinks and he’s done; he can change sizes very quickly, like in the middle of a fight sequence. Part of his power is keeping the enemy off guard because he can change sizes with this suit at will.”
In Marvel’s “Ant-Man” there were a lot of different technologies that went into creating the action sequences. Reed offers, “We used both practical and CG techniques and the goal was to make it as photorealistic as possible. There’s a lot of research that’s been done looking at macrophotography of ants and things like that and how best to replicate that in the movie, since Ant-Man has the power to control ant armies as well.”
One of the most exciting things about Ant-Man is that his perspective shifts very quickly. To bring the audience into that, the filmmakers created an immersive experience for the audience so that they feel as if they are to scale in Ant-Man’s world. “If a flying ant comes down, it’s almost like a Black Hawk helicopter coming down and you are really going to be in the middle of this action,” says the director.

COMING SOON
When Marvel’s “Ant-Man” hits U.S. theaters on July 17, the director believes the movie will surprise audiences. “Ant-Man is an incredibly powerful character,” says Reed. “He can shrink down to a very tiny size and actually command armies of different types of ants. The great thing about the comics and the great thing about this story is you get to see what kinds of things a bunch of ants can get done and the interesting ways in which they can help Scott.”
Paul Rudd also thinks the film will surprise on several different fronts. “One of the things I like about this movie is that it’s not an easy one to put into a box; it’s not a straight up comedy, it’s not a straight action movie, but there are plenty of both,” says the actor. “The characters are also going through what I think are very relatable and familial struggles. There’s poignancy to the story. I think audiences will really connect with the characters in the film. On top of that, there’s amazing action in both the physical world and the macro world that people just haven’t seen before. It’s really exciting, very cool and unique.”
Evangeline Lilly sums up, “Ant-Man is really fresh and new and is something that we’ve not seen at all in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before. It’s going to have its own life and its own fan base. Even if there were no Marvel films that existed today and this film came into the movie theaters, it would still be a smash hit. It has it all—great characters, great action, fun adventure...and who just doesn’t love all those amazing ants?”



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