With Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania opening in theaters on Thursday, February 16, Vital Thrills got a chance to talk to the cast and crew about the anticipated third installment. In Quantumania, which kicks off Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) return to continue their adventures.
Together, with Hope’s parents Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
Reed was asked about ramping up the action in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania after the first two films. “The Ant-Man movies have really always been about family. It is a generational story about a family of heroes, and Scott Lang, who is not a billionaire or super scientist or anything, getting sucked into this world, and Hope van Dyne who is the legacy daughter of two superheroes, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer.”
The filmmaker added: “So it’s this generational thing, and now young Cassie Lang, who is probably Scott’s biggest motivating factor of having time with his daughter. He wants to be a hero, obviously. He’s an Avenger, but it’s really about work-life balance and also finding time with his daughter. It’s the most important thing.
“In this movie, Cassie Lang is 18, but we continue the story of this family, and I think in Quantumania, one of the things we’ve done is really broaden that story and start talking about the secrets the family members keep from each other, the things they don’t tell each other.
“And at the beginning of the movie, very quickly we find out that maybe Janet hasn’t told the family about her 30 years in the Quantum Realm, and maybe Hope and Hank have not told Scott about what they’re working on with Cassie down in the basement, and maybe Cassie hasn’t told her dad about time she might’ve spent in jail.
“So everyone’s keeping secrets from Scott at the beginning of the movie, and suddenly, they’re thrust into the Quantum Realm, and they have to kind of work out these family dynamics while being in this bizarro, wacked-out world. But it really is the theme of family that I think is the constant in the movies.”
Rudd spoke about Scott Lang’s feelings on being a superhero and how they’ve changed since the first film. “Well, I think that he really does, like Peyton was saying, wanna be a dad, and this is his main focus,” said Rudd. “So he always had kind of a love-hate relationship with it, but now I feel as if he’s accepted it. He is happy that all of that, it seems to be in the rearview mirror, and now we get to have kind of a normal life, have some time together. And it doesn’t last, obviously, as long as maybe he thought it would.
“But I think that he’s kind of grown a lot over the course of nine years or so that we’ve been doing these movies. I mean, this is a guy who, started off he had a regular job. He was brought into this group and has no innate super abilities, but then he went up and fought Thanos. So he’s experienced a thing or two, and he’s accepted who he is.”
Rudd also talked about where Scott is at the beginning of the film. He said, “I think when we start this movie, when you see this movie, it’s kind of been present day. The events of ‘Endgame,’ everything has already transpired. I wouldn’t say he’s taking a victory lap, but others might say that.
“And he’s written a book, a memoir, Look Out for the Little Guy!, and he’s explained everything that’s been going on in life and his experiences with the Avengers, but now he is ready to have some time, be a normal dad. And, there are some issues there, because we missed out on a lot, and I kind of wanna recapture some of those years. Cassie’s older, you know? She has ideas of her own, so we’re, yeah, trying to kind of grapple with all of that.”
Lilly was asked about her character Hope van Dyne’s (aka The Wasp) transformation as well. She said, “Hope started the first Ant-Man film a very cold, detached, very isolated woman. She didn’t have a lot of relationships in her life. She had a lot of broken relationships in her life, 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. And so her life is just full of relationship, and it’s full of love, and 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.”
Lilly continued: “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 like global warming and housing crises, and she’s doing it with success. And there’s this little hiccup. There’s this little missing piece, which is that she had always fantasized about her mom coming home one day.
“And I think ’cause that fantasy started when she was eight years old, it was, like, we’re gonna be best friends, and she’s gonna tell me everything, and we’re just gonna be so close. And then she really keeps Hope on the outside, and that’s a wound that is festering at the beginning of the film.”
Feige spoke about what the film reveals about the Quantum Realm. He explained, “Well, we first saw it in the first Ant-Man film, and 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 this, you know, quantum mechanics, which I’m happy to discuss at length today if you guys want.
“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. The first Ant-Man movie was mainly about meeting the characters and the origin story, of course, but at the very end of that, we got a taste of it, and that is what led to where we took it in Endgame.
“And it is a place that is on the subatomic level where space and time act differently, and that allowed us to time travel at Scott Lang’s suggestion in Endgame, and it allowed us to have this entire manic quantumness in this film, where we go to a point where only Janet had ever seen before. And as Evangeline said, she didn’t talk about it too much, where there is an entire universe below the surface where we meet all sorts of fun, crazy characters.”
Of the Quantum Realm’s design, Feige added, “…it was in the works for three-and-a-half years, working on this look and taking audiences to a place that they have not been before. We talked about parallels to The Wizard of Oz a lot in terms of taking and meeting a family down there. But the visuals, which, you know, have been in the works for a very long time, was all Peyton and his team.”
Reed said, “We looked at everything from electron microscope photography to things like heavy metal magazine in the ’70s and ’80s, and we wanted to bring in all these elements like this. We wanted to bring in all these elements like this. There’s a little sword and sorcery element, and then there’s a real Mobius element to it. We just wanted to assemble a team of artists and say we are creating the Quantum Realm.
“You know, none of the other Marvel movies have really dealt with it, and want to create this very vivid world that has its own internal history and internal logic, and who are the creatures there and who are the people there, and how do you travel? What are the laws of physics? All these things needed to be figured out. So, Will Htay, our production designer, we assembled this insane group of visual artists.
“And we said just bring some of your, you know, most fantastic ideas to the table and let’s figure out what it can be. Because we want to take these characters that the audience has come to know, and send them on this journey and traverse these very strange lands and just have fun with it. It was a part of the MCU that we were free to create on our own, and it was one of the most exciting things about it.”
Douglas spoke on what he thinks the Ant-Man films are doing right with audiences. He said, “I think [in] the Ant-Man pictures we refer to family a lot, brings a vulnerability to these super-power characters that we see in a lot of Marvel films. There’s a certain vulnerability. And a sense of humor that exists that I think is really a pleasure. This is very joyful for me as I’m learning more today about the whole experience than I’ve known, but I think it’s that sort of fun element about it.
“Certainly there’s the danger but it seems to relate to all different ages. Someone like myself who’s mostly referenced to R-rated movies, this has really been a pleasure to have younger kids coming up and enjoying it and seeing what’s going on. So, kudos to everybody.”
Pfeiffer, whose character Janet was the original Wasp, spoke about what she’s chosen to reveal about her 30 years in the Quantum Realm to her family when the film starts. “After finally being rescued from the Quantum Realm after 30 years and reunited with her lovely husband Hank and daughter Hope, she is just savoring this time together and quite, decidedly so, secretive about her time down there.
“And not really wanting to get into that until, of course, we all find ourselves down in the parallel universe and parallel world. And she is forced to come forth with the truth and in a place where she had hoped she would never see again. And, you know, 30 years is a long time. People have needs. And let’s not be judgmental. And so, I think there are a lot of surprises for the family.
“For some more than others. Maybe some choices were questionable,” she laughed. “But they’re a very forgiving family. But, you know, of course her story is very much a part of the whole family secrets theme that runs through the film.”
Majors, who played a different version of Kang in Loki than he does in Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, said of his character, who is now Kang the Conqueror: “Who is Kang? I think that is a question that we will all be answering for a very long time. I think the quick answer to that is Kang is a time-traveling super villain. Who is also a nexus being. Which leads to this idea of variants.
“There’s multiple versions of Kang. Versions being variants. They occupy different universes, multi-verses, they have different intentions. They are all different beings, and yet something that we’re still and I’m still working on and continue to refine and refine and refine to something as a throughline between them. And that, to me, is the Kang gene.”
He continued: “Kang the Conqueror is stuck in the Quantum Realm. And he has some issues with some guys, some variants. And he’s not happy about it. When he was down there, he met Janet. His really feels like joining like the Shakespearean troops back in the day, when you have Shakespeare in the room and you’ve got the guys in the room and they’re just like all right, go, you know? And Shakespeare has a very clear idea of what it is they want to do and you have your lead actor, and they kind of set the tempo and the tone that you get in and you get busy.”
“The culture of the play and the story is all there, but it’s really changing. And so, for that, you really have to be very clear about what it is you’re doing and who your character is the spine of the character, what he’s about, what she’s about, what they’re going after. So, you built that. And the rest of it, you just play hard. At least that was my take, you know.”
Newton, who is joining the MCU as Cassie Lang, said that the first Marvel film she saw was Iron Man. “I was probably like eight. So since then, since the first time I saw a Marvel movie, I always wanted to be a Marvel superhero, and anyone who knows me from high school, it was probably like my superlative in the yearbook. So, I really wanted to be part of this, because it made me dream. I went with my dad to the theaters, and I just wanted to be a superhero.
“And it’s funny, because I told myself that I always wanted to be the biggest Marvel superhero of all time. And I think it’s ironic that Cassie Lang grows 40 feet. So I’m proof that your dreams come true, ’cause mine did.”
She joked about it being difficult to work with Paul Rudd, who plays her dad. “I was laughing the whole time. So it was very difficult for me to stay grounded in my character. Luckily when Jonathan was on set, he really brought the music and just made get into it. It was really easy. It was very easy to find that dynamic with Paul. The first day, our first scene was like the hardest scene in the movie for me. It’s where I’m saying goodbye to, you know. Can I talk about that? Never mind.”
Broussard spoke about a group in the film who are freedom fighters. He said, “So when we arrive in the Quantum Realm, we kinda get thrust mid-story into an ongoing battle there because Kang the Conqueror is risen to power here in the Quantum Realm. And we meet a group of freedom fighters, of locals, essentially, down there that are at the tip of the spear fighting back.
“And it was a really fun opportunity to introduce new characters into this franchise going forward. So we meet their leader named Jentorra, played by the wonderful Katy O’Brian. We meet a very fun character named Quaz, played by William Jackson Harper. And David Dastmalchian returning to the franchise in another role playing an alien named Vebb.
“And they are very serious about defending their territory down there and winning back their freedom and pushing back against everything they find themselves in. But it’s absolutely some of the biggest laughs in the movie, and the most fun in the movie I think for sure. And people are gonna really enjoy meeting them.”
In terms of why Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is the first film in Marvel Studios‘ Phase 5, Feige said, “Phase IV was about introducing a lot of new characters and new heroes to the world. We want to kick off Phase Five with a third film of characters that were already beloved, which this team certainly is, and utilize them. We’ve talked about family. hat goes along with vulnerability and relatability. And who better to face off against one of, if not the biggest villain the MCU’s ever faced than this family who you might think could not handle it?
“And then we learn over the course of the movie that Janet has not only handled it, but has been dealing with it for decades. And I have to say, in terms of the trilogy, the Ant-Man trilogy, there is a flashback in the first film to the Wasp. The original Wasp, Janet van Dyne. We don’t see her face. She’s wearing a mask.
“And it was always our dream that someday we could make another movie, and then Michelle Pfeiffer could play that character. And then we’ve got a little, you know, taste of it more, thankfully, in Ant-Man and The Wasp. And now every time this movie, and there’s a large part of this movie where Peyton and the screenwriters just hand the movie over to Michelle, and it’s amazing.
“And I keep thinking back to those first scenes on the first Ant-Man film where it was just a dream and a possibility of who could play this part. But all of these characters, these amazing actors we felt would be a great audience surrogate to meet somebody as complex and scary and multiversal as Kang.”
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games, and comics all over the Internet for over 15 years, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of “Tabletop,” written comic books, and is a contributing author for the 13 books in the “PsychGeeks” series including “Star Wars Psychology.” She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosted the “Legion” podcast.