Behind-the-Scenes of Marvel’s ANT-MAN – a Father and Daughter Tale

With their new film ANT-MAN, Marvel Studios brings a founding member of the Avengers to the big screen for the very first time.  The movie tells the story of ex-con Scott Lang who, after being released from prison, must deal with life on the outside while also having to find his way back into his daughter’s life.  When Dr. Hank Pym approaches him to put on the super-powered Ant-Man suit, which will allow him to shrink down in size and increase in strength, Scott must learn to embrace his inner hero in order to help pull off a heist that could ultimately save the world.

Recently, Marvel Studios held a press junket on the Walt Disney Studio lot to discuss the behind the scenes details for this new film.  On hand were the films producer Kevin Feige, director Peyton Reed and cast members Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Corey Stoll, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian and the legendary Michael Douglas.

Marvel's Ant-Man

(L-R) Actors Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll and director Peyton Reed attend Marvel’s Hall H Panel for “Ant-Man” during Comic-Con International 2014 at San Diego Convention Center on July 26, 2014. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney.

Producer Kevin Feige started everything off by addressing the choice of making ANT-MAN Marvel’s next superhero to showcase on the big screen.  “Clearly Ant-Man in the comics is a founding member of the Avengers…” he observed.  “It was always clear that we were going to assemble all the Avengers eventually and it also was interesting to do a movie that plays with scale and that plays with action in a very different way than we’ve ever done before…  I like it when all of our films are unique and all of them are different.”  Director Peyton Reed then commented on his experience working with Marvel by saying, “They have a creative hunger and they don’t want to repeat themselves.”


L to R: Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man) on set with Director Peyton Reed, photo by Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


As the conversation lead to the casting choices, Paul Rudd talked about why he was so interested in playing the lead character, Scott Lang.  He stated, “It was different from anything that I’d ever done (before).  I liked the challenge.  I thought it would be an exciting adventure and I enjoyed the fact that when I was cast people went, huh, really…”  Rudd may be a better casting choice than some might have thought.  The film is a little more light hearted, with a bigger sense of humor than some of the others films in the Marvel Universe.  Feige said, “When you’re dealing with a concept like people riding ants, people communicating with ants, calling ants ‘Antony,’ you have to acknowledge to the audience that we know this is funny to a certain extent.  And even when we cast Paul, people thought, oh, is it a comedy, because you cast the comedian?  We cast the guy we thought could be a kickass superhero… who happens to be funny.”

Rudd also admitted that he had a special attachment to the Ant-Man suit.  “It helped me feel the part… there’s something that happens when you get in that thing.  I would stand different.  I would feel different.  I’d feel like Ant-Man in that thing.”

Marvel's Ant-Man

Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) photo by Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


Rudd wasn’t the only actor playing a part that seemed a little out of his wheelhouse.  Michael Douglas, who plays Dr. Pym, is appearing in a superhero movie for the first time in his whole career.  His motivation for taking the part seemed to come from his son.  Douglas mentioned, “My 14-year-old’s reaction was like an agent.  He said, ‘You know, Dad, this could be a whole new audience for you.’ So I took that to heart and here I am.”  Douglas also talked about how he came onboard the project unaware of who the character was.  “I was not familiar with Ant-Man before this movie…  Kevin and Marvel were kind enough to send me about two years of comic books”


Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) photo by Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


A funny addition to all of this was when Michael Pena talked about his character Luis.  “It’s a real person that I’m imitating.  He’s a criminal…  The guy lives in Chicago…  He’s the kind of guy, swear to god, when I’m like, ‘What did you do this weekend?’  He’s like: ‘I went to jail, Dawg.’”


Luis (Michael Peña) photo by Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


Due to the importance that the actual ants have to the overall story, Reed made sure to discuss how they were brought to life.  The director started off by talking about all of the research that was involved.  “There’s a definitive ant textbook that’s written by this guy E.O. Wilson, who’s considered the Ant-Man – the actual real Ant-Man…  it talks about all the specific types of ants there are in the world and there are thousands of them, but also there are specific skill sets.”  He continued, “One of the things I liked about doing the research was all the things that we have the ants do.  You know, for example, the fire ants, they’re architects, they can make little rafts and ladders.  They do that in real life.  The kid in me was like, oh, I can go on the internet and look at these ants and it’s actually real.  I think that’s a really cool aspect of the movie.”


Marvel’s Ant-Man © Marvel 2014


Reed also talked about how they went about creating the ants as well as the world that they inhabited.  He complimented special effects supervisor Jake Morrison and said, “we spent a lot of time together and talked about how we were going to achieve it and how we were going to shoot it…  what does the world look and sound like when you’re down there?  You know, when you see dust particles floating around, how does the light play?  And I’m really happy with where we ended up, because in a movie like ANT-MAN its got to look real.  That applied to the ants, too.  I mean, that was really one of the challenges… creating ants that looked photo-real… giving them some real character.”


L to R: Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) photo by Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


Although this is a superhero/special effects film, everyone seemed to agree that the movies success would rely on the characters and their personal stories.  Rudd talked about the importance of his character’s motivations by saying, “In regards to the father-daughter aspect, it was the thing that I hung the whole thing on.  You can have a movie that has amazing effects, and this certainly has that, and brilliant visuals, a lot of action, humor, whatever, but whenever you see something that you can connect to, that’s emotionally resonant, it stays with you in a very different way… This is what the movie is about.”  Feige agreed and added, “Scott Lang’s character has a daughter named Cassie in the comics and in his original origin story.  In the books it’s tied directly to his desire to help his daughter and that’s the reason he sort of resorts to crime, to try to do that.  We’ve never had a hero in any of the eleven films leading up to this whose motivation involved a child, or involved a son or a daughter, so that felt like a reason to do this film.”  But the Scott/Cassie bond isn’t the only father/daughter relationship that’s important in the movie.   Dr. Pym and his daughter Hope also have some issues to work through.  Reed pointed out, “One of the strengths of the movie is its dual stories about these two fathers and their daughters…  in various different ways they are not a part of their daughters’ lives and they have to, by the end of the movie, repair those relationships.”


L to R: Director Peyton Reed and actress Abby Ryder Fortson (Cassie) on set, photo by Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


ANT-MAN opens in wide release on Friday July 17, 2015; click here for all our images, trailers, and news about Marvel’s ANT-MAN.  For more family movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.