Ant-Man is the latest success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and after a solid theatrical run it’s due to hit home video next week. The Blu-ray/DVD are loaded with special features ‐ deleted scenes, featurettes, and a gag reel ‐ and chief among them is a commentary track featuring director Peyton Reed and star Paul Rudd.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the Ant-Man commentary.
Commentators: Peyton Reed (director), Paul Rudd (actor)
1. They’re recording the commentary on Schoeps MK41 microphones “for you tech-heads out there.”
2. Of all the film’s special effects, the one that made Reed the most nervous was making Michael Douglas (as Hank Pym) look 25 years younger in the opening scene. He credits Lola VFX with the amazing job. It involved filming Douglas with dots on his face, filming a younger actor performing the same beats, and then capturing Douglas in a 3-D scanner.
3. Reed says Rudd and Adam McKay wrote the opening scene and asks Rudd to confirm. “Yeah, based on one that had been written by, I think it was Callahan after Edgar [Wright] and Joe [Cornish].” He’s referring to Dave Callahan who, along with Eric Pearson did some work on the script but did not receive credit.
4. They recorded the commentary three weeks into the film’s theatrical release. “I’m just starting to kind of decompress,” says Rudd.
5. Rudd recalls wanting Scott Lang (Rudd) to exit prison and be greeted by Luis (Michael Peña) holding an iPhone above his head playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” They shot the scene, “but unfortunately that song was quite expensive” says Reed.
6. It’s implied that Peña might not be the best person to let drive a van on California’s Pacific Coast Highway.
7. Rudd and McKay had struggled to decide upon a job that would show just how far Lang had fallen, “and Baskin-Robbins said yes.”
8. Some of the scenes were filmed in San Francisco, but the set-work was shot at the new Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, GA. “We were the first motion picture to shoot at those studios,” says Reed.
9. When Rudd first met David Dastmalchian (as Kurt) the actor was speaking in the accent his character uses, so Rudd thought it was real. “And then he started talking to me in his real accent telling me about the town I am from in Kansas City which is the same town he’s from, and I thought he was messing with me.”
10. The Pym Tech building lobby interiors were filmed at the Hall of Records in Atlanta. “It was also the news station in Anchorman 2,” adds Rudd. “It was the second time I shot there.”
11. Rudd received a voice-mail from Douglas early in production, and he’s never going to delete it.
12. The ugly bunny doll that Lang gives to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) led to one of the few disagreements between Reed and Rudd. Their end goals were the same ‐ Lang should give her something utterly weird so that the audience shakes their collective head but the daughter responds with joy ‐ but they had differing thoughts on what it should be. Rudd wanted something like an off-brand Teletubby and felt the bunny was just too terrifying.
13. One of the biggest laughs Rudd enjoyed during production happened on a break from filming when several members of the cast went out for some karaoke. Judy Greer was paging through the song book and said “Guys, what Lou Bega song should I do?” just loud enough for the others to hear. “That made me laugh for like two weeks.”
14. Reed says there’s a take of Darren Cross’ (Corey Stoll) bathroom encounter with his insubordinate ‐ he zaps the guy into a quivering glob of strawberry jelly ‐ that features him tasting the goop before flushing it. “It did not make the movie.”
15. In addition to the four credited screenwriters (Wright, Cornish, McKay, Rudd) and the two uncredited ones already mentioned above (Callahan, Pearson) there were apparently other writers (Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari) on set tasked with variations and re-writes during filming.
16. One of the nights filming in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district featured a local urinating on Lang’s van. “It’s on TMZ,” says Reed. “You can check it out.”
17. Garrett Morris’ cameo is a nod to an old Saturday Night Live sketch where he played Ant-Man at a superhero party hosted by Superman and Lois Lane.
18. Rudd recalls a conversation with Stan Lee where the Marvel Comics legend expressed excitement at finally seeing Ant-Man brought to life the way he had envisioned the character. “He said that in the comics he [Ant-Man] was never really drawn to scale the way he imagined it because you just couldn’t in a comic panel.”
19. “The bite of a bullet ant is actually the most extreme pain that you can experience and still live,” says Rudd, but I’m sure there are mothers out there who would disagree. There’s a tribe along the Amazon who turn their boys into men through a multi-hour ritual that sees participants wear gloves loaded with the ants. “It’s like the most painful bar mitzvah you can have,” says Rudd. He recalls seeing a video of an Australian duo named Hamish & Andy who attempted the ritual with somewhat unmanly results.
20. The lamb they used was the “cutest little 10 day-old” animal, and when they broke for lunch that day they discovered that the caterer was serving lamb chops. “I hope it was coincidental,” says Reed.
21. Rudd is quick to point out that his shirtless scene was not in the script.
22. The Ant-Man suit required a “small pit crew” to assist getting Rudd into it each day.
23. They ran through a handful of endings for the Mitchell Carson (Martin Donovan) character including one that left him physically scarred but still in possession of the Pym particles, one where he is killed, and one where he almost escapes before being punched by Lang in reference to the opening scene.
24. Rudd regrets missing a chance at a Zoolander reference during the scene where Ant-Man and the bad guys’ bullets tear up the small building model. “The internet did it for us,” says Reed.
25. Reed says he became obsessed with trying to wring an emotional response out of the death of an ant ‐ in this case, Antony, who’s killed by Cross. He’s gotten questions and flack on Twitter regarding Antony’s fate, but “the average lifespan of a carpenter ant is something like twelve weeks so he was probably at week eleven at least. I think he made the most of his time on earth. He really lived life to the fullest.” He makes no mention of the dozens of ants who eat it during the fight in Cassie’s bedroom.
26. “Have fun freeze-framing the quantum realm sequence,” says Reed. “There may be some things that you weren’t able to catch in your theatrical experience that you might be able to see on home video.”
27. Reed comments on Cassie’s new pet ‐ the giant-sized ant she’s feeding under the table ‐ which prompts Rudd to point out “which according to your math is probably going to die next week, so I hope she doesn’t get too emotionally invested in this relationship.”
28. Reed asks Rudd about his time shooting scenes for Captain America: Civil War, specifically he wants to know which side Ant-Man is fighting on. “Oh, I think you could probably find out,” says Rudd. He hems and haws for a bit before saying “I’m on Captain America’s side.” They revisit this point multiple times through the remainder of the end credits with Rudd suggesting he’s on Iron Man’s side, the Hulk’s side, and no side at all because of the influence of Hank Pym.
29. Rudd discovers while watching the end credits that Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, also voices the Hideous Rabbit doll.
30. Rudd gives a shout out to his driver, Dan Mabry, and Reed shares that he himself was a van driver on Bull Durham. “So you must have some stories,” says Rudd. “Whose side were you on?”
Best in Context-Free Commentary
Reed: “There’s nothing quite like Michael Douglas’ voice. It’s a tonic.”
Rudd: “Who doesn’t love Judy Greer?”
Reed: “Look at Evangeline Lilly. Look at her.”
Reed: “Who doesn’t want to see a giant Michael Peña in a movie?”
Reed and Rudd both show great affection for the world of Ant-Man, and the director in particular is very enthusiastic about the film they’ve created and the talents involved at every level. Rudd appears to check out a few times, disappearing from the commentary for several minutes at a time and even reappearing clearly out of sync from whatever Reed is talking about. Still, the two have a good, fun rapport that makes for a listen that’s as entertaining as it is informative.