You’re up, Peyton.
Now that James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” surprised Hollywood when it opened to more than $94 million at the domestic box office and gave Marvel Studios the start of a new franchise, it’s Peyton Reed’s turn to do the same with next summer’s “Ant-Man,” which starts principal photography in a few weeks in San Francisco before moving to its home base of Atlanta.
The film, which kicks off Phase 3 of Marvel’s cinematic universe (the second wraps up with “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” in May), will introduce Paul Rudd as a man who can change sizes and communicate with insects when wearing a suit created by his mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a founding member of the Avengers in the comicbooks.
“Ant-Man” will mark the first time the character appears in a Marvel movie.
Preliminary footage has already been shot — a harrowing action sequence for the film, which co-stars Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (as the Wasp, another key Avenger), was shown at Comic-Con with Lang escaping on the back of a flying ant.
Ever since Reed replaced Edgar Wright as “Ant-Man’s” director in July, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has worked overtime to calm the company’s core fanbase that all is still well with the film.
There was reason to worry. Wright had been developing to direct “Ant-Man” for the past decade and his departure signaled issues with the project. Reed also didn’t seem like a Marvel man, having directed “Bring It On” and “Yes Man.” Once cast members like Patrick Wilson started leaving the project due to scheduling issues, and Matt Gerald and Kevin Weisman were eliminated altogether, more red flags were raised.
But Marvel is sticking with its July 17, 2015 release date under Reed’s helm. Feige has amped up Reed’s nerd credentials, disclosing that he nearly directed “Guardians of the Galaxy,” had been attached to helm Fox’s “Fantastic Four” a decade ago, and “is someone that I’ve been a fan of for a long time.” He also attended his 20th Comic-Con this year in San Diego.
Update: Reed announced the first day of shooting for “Ant-Man” on Twitter, Aug. 18:
Alright, gang. Today is the day.
LET'S. GET. small.#AntMan
— Peyton Reed (@MrPeytonReed) August 18, 2014
Reed has said he doesn’t just want to step into Wright’s “Ant-Man,” and intends to put his own touch on the project that revolves around a heist.
That includes focusing on the conflict between Stoll’s villainous Yellowjacket and Ant-Man, and bringing in “Anchorman” writer and director Adam McKay to add more humor and Gabriel Ferrari and Andrew Barrer to further revise the script.
The film’s cast also includes Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Abby Ryder Fortson, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Wood Harris, John Slattery, T.I., and Gregg Turkington.
Feige has long stressed that directors don’t have the final say in Marvel’s films and that helming one of its projects requires collaboration with the executive and his team of producers. That’s needed in order to tell “one overall movie” that Marvel is making through its franchises. That kind of process didn’t sit well with Wright who envisioned “Ant-Man” as a smaller, standalone film.
Yet “Ant-Man” will still be “very much in the spirit of what Edgar’s original pitch was and the entire template of the movie is what Edgar originally pitched eight years ago now,” Feige says. Either way, “it’s headed in the right direction.”