‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ Cast and Director Talk Combining Marvel Thrills With Quantum Physics

Marvel’s “Ant-Man and The Wasp” achieves that rare feat of being a sequel that outdoes the original. A joyous extravaganza, it is one of the summer’s great entertainments. Paul Rudd, who also shares a writing credit for the movie, returns as criminal turned hero Scott Lang. Following the events of the first “Ant-Man” and “Captain America: Civil War,” Lang is now trying to simply wait out his probation, start a business and spend time with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). But the vacation is short-lived when Lang finds himself crossing paths again with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Pym, creator of the Ant-Man costume and its miniaturizing technology, believes he has found a way to reach his long-lost wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who was once lost in the “Quantum Realm,” a space where shrinking essentially leaves you in a world beyond reach. Lang will re-team with Hank and Hope, despite being a screw up, and try to help them get to Janet. But a new villain, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) also seeks their quantum technology for her own ends. Helping her is a scientist and former rival of Hank’s, Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne).

With director Peyton Reed again at the helm, “Ant-Man and The Wasp” is both an exciting, classic thrill ride and a superb visual experiment. In 3D the miniaturizing special effects are especially thrilling. Reed, Rudd, Douglas, Lilly, Kamen and Fishburne recently took some time to share with Entertainment Voice their experience of making this latest, yet smaller, Marvel spectacle.

Rare among Marvel films, this is one in which the star himself also helped pen the screenplay. “Paul’s as generous a writer as he is an actor. Paul could easily say, ‘I’m getting all the lines.  You’re not going to say this or do this,’ but you know, Paul always has the whole picture in mind when he’s writing and acting,” said Reed.

“No, he gave himself more funny lines. Let’s be honest,” chimed in Michael Douglas in obvious jest.

But for Rudd it is important to emphasize the collaborative nature of making a movie. “This has been a collaborative effort, more than anything I’ve ever worked on and to think that I actually wrote it would be, I think, a gross overstatement. The truth of the matter is Peyton was in the room, and has been working on this for a long time, same with our producer, Stephen Broussard. But in particular, two writers, Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna who did really, I mean, a lot of the heavy lifting and those guys are great. I tip my cap to them.”

In addition to the film’s wit and tight story, “Ant-Man and The Wasp” is a visual extravaganza complete with trippy Quantum Realm sequences, Pez dispensers that grow into gargantuan size, laboratories that can be miniaturized to toy height. Reed shared a bit about the daunting task of it all. “There were a lot of daunting sequences, because we really wanted to set out and go nuts with the technology in this movie and it occurred to us at some point, ‘well, maybe it’s not just Ant-Man and Wasp who can shrink maybe grow.’ We did a whole car chase that took us through the city of San Francisco and we wanted to do a chase that you just simply wouldn’t see in any other movie because of all the size changes.”

For Evangeline Lilly part of the thrill this time around was having her character take on the mantle of The Wasp and move to the forefront of the story. “It was just fun to finally get to see her take on the mantle, because this is something that she’s been ready and willing to do, basically her whole life. Her parents are both superheroes and she was rearing to get in that suit for an entire film. And we never got there and so to actually see her fighting was wonderful.”

One aspect of this particular Marvel franchise that proves somewhat daunting for certain cast members is the dense scientific aspect. “Well, actually Peyton cast me for this role because he did find out that I had a degree in quantum mechanics and was very familiar,” said Douglas with mock seriousness.  “I would have to read the script again to be able to give a proper definition of the Quantum Realm. I know we get very, very small, sub-atomic.”

Lilly however, does know her stuff. “I really love quantum physics and always did before this happened and that’s one of the reasons I was excited about this brand.  I really dig quantum physics and you know, at one point we thought the atom was the beyond all and end all; that everything ended at the atom,” she said with refined insight. “But actually we discovered that the atom is kinetic and that atoms exist in multiple places at the same time.  And that was scientifically proven and once you discover that, then you know that matter is kinetic and matter is displacing all the time and if it can be displaced, it can be warped. And so if you you can warp it then you can warp size, you can warp matter. Can you warp time? Can you warp reality? Can you warp universes?”

For Laurence Fishburne being in a Marvel movie is a dream come true. His connection to the Marvel universe goes way back. “I’ve been a reader since I was eight and a fan, you know, my whole life. I really enjoyed the movies and everything that they’ve done with MCU has been fantastic, because what they’ve done is brilliantly braid the source material and bring it on into the now and so it’s amazing.” When Fishburne saw an opening, he went for it. “I realized that I was on the, the lot with Marvel, working at ‘Black-ish’ at ABC/Disney. And I thought, I should go talk to them, say, ‘hey. What do I got to do?’  So a couple weeks later they were like, ah, you know about this guy? And oddly enough, it was a guy I didn’t know about.”

Hannah John-Kamen basked in the complexity of her own character, Ghost, who seeks to take control of Pym’s technology but with aims that are not exactly insane or illogical. “I definitely approach the character not as a villain, at all, definitely a threat to the characters and the heroes of the movie. But when I guess when you play a villain, you have to play it like you’re the good guy and everyone else is bad. So everyone else is the bad guy, and you’re the good guy. The stakes are so high, she has such a clear objective in the movie,” she said. “What Marvel Universe does so well is it’s not black and white. It’s very gray, you know, and I think the villains are very redeemable and because they’re fun you want to see them again.”

Reed detailed some of the cinematic influences on the latest “Ant-Man” romp. “The first one’s sort of a heist movie and this is still sort of a crime/science fiction/Elmore Leonard novel, as a Marvel movie thing and it needed to have a lot of forward momentum. We looked at a lot of things, you know, from ‘Bullitt,’ the Steve McQueen movie and of course, ‘What’s Up, Doc?,’ the Bogdanovich movie, which has the most insane chase scenes through San Francisco.”

Rudd attributes the film’s inviting tone to its themes about family. “That’s the glue. That’s the soul of it.  The love that a family shares and how we need each other. You know, parents need their kids; kids need their parents and if we could somehow build a very funny movie, one that appeals to all ages that families and kids could see but that actually still has all of the elements that it fit in the Marvel Universe. And all ages are going to be wowed by certain aspects of it.”

For Lilly the experience of “Ant-Man and The Wasp” has left her with some unique, curious feelings. “I’d like to be able to shrink and fly. I mean, I don’t know about shrinking other things, but I’d like to be able to do it myself.  That would be cool.”

Ant-Man and The Wasp” releases July 6 in theaters nationwide.