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23 Things We Learned from the ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Commentary

“I have here the screenplay for Avengers 4, which I am going to read to you right now.”
Ant Man And The Wasp Commentary
By  · Published on October 5th, 2018

Welcome to Commentary Commentary, our long-running series of articles exploring the things we can learn from the most interesting filmmaker commentaries available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s a worthwhile counterbalance to the 19th, Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Where that movie is heavy, long, and dense with death, this is a far lighter experience. Fans of the first will find more of the same here as fun action and playful banter take center stage throughout. The film comes home to Blu-ray/DVD later this month, but we’ve taken a spin through the disc’s special features including featurettes, a pair of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a commentary track with director Peyton Reed.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Commentator: Peyton Reed (director)

1. The flashback exterior shot of the Pym house that opens the film was originally filmed for the first movie.

2. Lola VFX was responsible for the “young-ification” of Michelle PfeifferMichael Douglas, and Laurence Fishburne.

3. The flashback in the first film to Janet Van Dyne (Pfeiffer) on the missile never showed her face, but Reed told the casting and visual effects departments responsible for the barely visible eyes behind her mask that he wanted it to resemble Pfeiffer. “Michelle was always my dream casting for that role, and that was even before we knew we’d be making a second movie.”

4. This is basically a follow-up to both Anti-Man and Captain America: Civil War. When Reed first saw the latter his first thought was “Ugh Hank Pym (Douglas) is gonna be pissed off and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is gonna feel betrayed!” This gave him an “in” for the starting dynamic between Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).

5. Films like After Hours (1985) and Midnight Run (1988) were looked at for inspiration as movies “with strong ticking clocks.”

6. The idea that Scott had some kind of encounter with Janet while in the quantum realm was suggested in the first film by way of a brief glimpse of a reflection on his helmet. It’s unclear as to whether it’s an angel, a blob, or Janet, but here it’s confirmed that it was actually her.

7. Early discussions of the quantum realm led Reed to remember the scene from Animal House (1978) featuring characters discussing similar ideas, so happily he was able to license a clip from Universal to use here at 13:27.

8. They used Elmore Leonard novels as an inspiration in the sense that while a main antagonist exists they would also have various smaller-level antagonists and threats too.

9. His biggest mandate regarding visual effects was “photo-realism.”

10. The lab and quantum tunnel set, strongly inspired by Irwin Allen’s The Time Tunnel (1966), is the largest physical set that’s ever been built for any of the MCU films. “It’s a little counter-intuitive.”

11. Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is a villain from the Marvel comics, but as a male adversary for Iron-Man not Ant-Man. They gender-swapped the character as a way to continue the theme of fathers and daughters.

12. Reed promised Douglas that he wouldn’t be “just a walking exposition machine” this time around.

13. Fishburne’s son, Langston, performs here as the young Bill Foster.

14. They worked hard to ensure that Scott was more than just a bumbling idiot and Hope was more than just the tough, serious one. “You have to understand that while the Wasp is probably the more powerful of the two, that Scott Lang is still formidable.”

15. They knew they wanted to feature another scene with Luis (Michael Peña) riffing a long story again but didn’t want to repeat themselves. The idea of pitting him against Walton Goggins‘ villainous Sonny Burch and a truth serum, though, gave them a way into the scene.

16. They weren’t sure at first how to get across the ideas of quantum entanglement, but it came clear once they struck on the idea of Scott and Janet basically doing an All of Me (1984) — Lily Tomlin is trapped in Steve Martin’s body with Steve Martin. They had discussed having Pfeiffer perform the scene then have Rudd copy her, but everyone agreed that Rudd would be better simply creating it wholesale.

17. Reed insisted the film clock in under two hours for two reasons. “I knew we were going to be following Infinity War which was going to be this massive, massive epic, but most importantly just because this is a comedy, and it’s an action/comedy, and it didn’t want to overstay its welcome.”

18. The car chase is influenced and inspired by the likes of Bullitt (1968), The Streets of San Francisco (1972), What’s Up, Doc? (1972), and The Raid 2 (2014).

19. He acknowledges the callous nature in which they kill ants left and right in the hungry gullets of seagulls.

20. Reed does not explain how Janet survived in the quantum realm — let alone how/why she has makeup, perfectly shaped eyebrows, and a whole new outfit.

21. Discussions about where to take the third act included the possibility of quantum creatures coming through the tunnel and pouring out into San Francisco, but Reed wasn’t interested. “That kind of stuff felt to me like we’ve seen this a million times.”

22. They considered doing the end credits in the form of a fake behind-the-scenes documentary designed like they were filming a Godzilla movie from the 50s “with people in suits stomping on model cityscapes.” That shifted into a table-top version of the film’s action.

23. Infinity War‘s events had to be touched on somehow, and they knew they didn’t want to simply show things unfolding via newscasts on TVs, so they landed on the end credits stinger instead. The only thing he’ll add regarding the situation it ends on — Scott heads into the quantum realm and as he radios out for extraction we see that Hank, Janet, and Hope have all turned to ash because of that jerk Thanos — is that Scott won’t repeat himself. He used grow discs in the first film to escape the quantum realm, but this time he has none. Supposedly…

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“Any actor who signs on for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie has to be in shape and do a shirt-less scene. That’s not true. None of that’s true.”

“This is our nod to The Big Lebowski.”

“I’m going to talk a lot about Evangeline Lilly.”

“Always fun to put Michael Douglas against Michael Peña.”

“His nerd roots run deep.”

“I used to play drums in a Smiths cover band.”

Buy Ant-Man and the Wasp on Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun enough time at the movies, and Reed’s commentary offers some equally entertaining tidbits and anecdotes about the production. He’s a pleasantly engaging speaker, and fans of the film (or of the MCU in general) will enjoy the track.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.