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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ director Peyton Reed talks the ‘Fantastic Four’ itch and pays homage to ‘Back to the Future Part II’

20 years ago, Peyton Reed developed a set from the 1960s Fantastic four movie at Fox that never quite came together, but now, with Reed’s third MCU movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, about to appear, he can finally close the book on ‘The Four’. Reed is now tied with Jon Watts and James Gunn for directing the second most MCU films behind the Russo Brothers’ four titles, and Quantumania really allowed the filmmaker to incorporate some of the elements he enjoyed from his days of reading Fantastic four comics as a child.

“My first memory of reading about the Microverse in the comics, which became the Quantum Realm, was one Fantastic four story in which Dr. Doom reduced the Four to the Microverse,” Reed tells me The Hollywood Reporter. “So I really took that passion and transferred it to this thing. And frankly, now they actually have one Fantastic four movie, my feeling is that I’ve already scratched that itch.

Early in his career, Reed directed behind-the-scenes material for the Back to the future franchise, and that included Back to the Future Part II. Well, early in Quantumaniathere’s a moment with a pizza that’s sure to remind fans of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s second film in the Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd-led time travel franchise.

“I did the making-of documentaries Back to the Future Part II And Part III. So I was on set when they did that [Part II’s pizza] scene, and yes, [Quantumania’s pizza scene] is a small tip of the hat,” Reed shares.

In a recent conversation with THRReed also discusses the character overlap between Scott Lang’s struggles Quantumania and the original plan for T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Considering you’re the man behind it Bring it on‘s teeth-brushing scene, I thought it was interesting that you told Marvel you didn’t want to be the MCU’s “palate cleanser” anymore.


So what was their response to that?

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a palate cleanser or people considered that. I liked that we worked on the fringes of the Marvel Universe, especially with the first two movies. Scott Lang was on the verge of that. He wasn’t a super scientist or a billionaire, and he really had no powers. But I love that in this now eight or nine year arc, we put Scott and Hope first, and I felt like if we were going to do a third movie, we really needed to differentiate ourselves. So I thought it was a good idea to buck the trilogy trend of, “The first two are great, but the third, whatever.”

I thought it was a good idea to make the third something completely different and make it as epic as possible, as if these heroes suddenly Lord of the Rings movie or something. (laughs.) But I like the idea that we’re starting phase five and we can introduce Kang the Conqueror, who was such a compelling adversary when I was a kid and read the comics. I like that character. And when we cast Jonathan Majors in the role, that changed everything. I loved the idea of ​​using that energy against Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang.

Is Quantumania‘s pizza scene your tribute to “hydrate level four, please” by Back to the Future Part II?

Well, when I was much younger, I started directing making-of documentaries. That’s where I started, and I did the making-of documentaries for it Back to the Future Part II And Part III. So I was on set when they did that scene, and yes, that’s a small tip of the hat. It’s one of my all-time favorite trilogies. I worked with Bob Zemeckis on those movies, and I did it too Forest Gump also. His style as a director had a lot of influence on me as a kid because those movies were big and fantastic and introduced these sci-fi concepts. But they were also funny and kinetic, so there was a sweet spot that I just responded to.

(L-R): Kathryn Newton as Cassandra “Cassie” Lang and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Courtesy of Jay Maidment/MARVEL

So Ryan Coogler said the original version of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would be T’Challa mourning the five years he lost with his son, and your movie also explores that territory with Scott (Paul Rudd) and Cassie (Kathryn Newton). Was this just a coincidence since these characters shared experiences?

Well, the Scott-Cassie relationship has always been the backbone of the Ant man movies. He’s been sucked into this world – and being an Avenger for Scott Lang is certainly a big deal right now – but his number one priority in life is being a good father to his daughter. So the thing that all the movies have inherited from the events of Avengers: endgame was this five-year period. How did this affect these individual characters, these Avengers? And for Scott, he lost a very pivotal five years with his daughter. She is now 18 and not a little girl anymore. She is a young woman. So that seemed like really strong dramatic fodder for our movie.

Scott has always had an uneasy relationship with time, even in the first movie. He’s been in prison and he just hasn’t had enough time with his daughter. And in the first movie, he had to earn that time together. So now that they’re up against the villainous Kang the Conqueror, who holds lordship over time, it struck us thematically that it made perfect sense to have this villain in this world.

Cassie is now a young woman who has her own ideas about what it’s like to be a hero, and those aren’t always the same ideas as Scott Lang. We also loved the idea that she’s now at an age where she can be critical of her father. She looks at him and says, “What are you doing with your life? You sign books. You look in the rearview mirror and there are many more injustices that need to be addressed. Why aren’t you doing anything?” So that struck us as a great advancement in that relationship.

Given the Quantum Realm setting, his absence makes sense, but were there ever versions of this movie starring Michael Pena’s Luis?

There were no versions of this movie [with Luis]. There are many characters in the movie. We obviously have our Lang family, van Dyne and Pym, but then we also introduced Kang, MODOK and all of our Freedom Fighter characters. So we had to make early decisions about what stories we could and couldn’t tell. I like those characters. They were really nice and part of the Lang family but as we got further and further [development] and knew we wanted to take the family to the Quantum Realm pretty early in the movie, it just didn’t make sense [to include Luis and co.].

(LR): Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA.

(LR): Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios’ ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

You threw Fantastic Four back in the day, so have you ever sat by a bottle of water and spewed out some ideas once Marvel Studios bought it?

Yes, I have evolved Fantastic Four about a year ago in 2002, 2003 when I was finishing Gone with love, and I chased it. I love Fantastic Four. It was my favorite comic growing up, and at the time, of course, it was pre-MCU. But then it became clear that Fox didn’t want to make the same movie as me. So when I came on board Ant man — and now that we’ve had a chance to do a third — I’ve really funneled a lot of mine Fantastic four love into Ant man. I mean, they’re both about dysfunctional families being superheroes. In this movie, we go to the Quantum Realm, which is a bizarre world, possibly similar to being in the Negative Zone Fantastic Four.

My first memory of reading about the Microverse in the comics, which became the Quantum Realm, was one Fantastic four story in which Dr. Doom reduced the Four to the Microverse. [Writer’s note: Reed is describing events that occurred in Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) No. 16.] So I really took that passion and transferred it into this thing. And frankly, now they actually have one Fantastic four movie, I feel like I’ve gotten over that itch already, so I’m really looking forward to seeing Matt Shakman’s version of Fantastic Four. I think it will be a joy to see it on a huge IMAX screen and just enjoy it as a moviegoer.

I am a big fan of You better call Sauland they had those cleaning scenes that reminded me a lot Bring it on‘s brushing scene mentioned earlier. And what I learned from your scene is what a messy toothbrush I am. So how much discussion was there at the time about how frothy to make that scene?

(laughs.) Well, one of the things about that scene is that your character is telling by brushing your teeth, and Kirsten Dunst’s character is a very personal, dainty toothbrush. She’s very mannered about it, while Cliff [Jesse Bradford], he just gets the job done. So we were exploring their personalities through teeth brushing, and it was interesting to see how people watch the movie and compare the brushing styles to their own. I never really thought about my method of brushing my teeth until we started talking about it for that scene all those years ago. It’s obvious you have a cleaning obsession, which I appreciate. But it’s funny how many people have come up to me over the years and talked about their style of brushing their teeth.

Well, congratulations Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumaniaand thanks for all the entertainment over the years.

Thank you. I appreciate that, and keep brushing your teeth!

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens in cinemas on February 17. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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