Ant-Man set visit

On October 9 2014 I visited my first Marvel set. The film was Ant-Man, Marvel Studios’ latest gamble and the final film in Phase Two of the company’s influential and uber-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. I mention it was my first Marvel set visit because, like me, Ant-Man represents many firsts for Marvel. It’s the first time they’ve hired a director, Peyton Reed, just weeks before shooting. It’s the first time their central hero, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), has a family. It’s the first time we’ll see a man shrink down to ride on ant. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.

Below, read 65 things we learned over two days — days 37 and 38 of the 74-day shoot — on the Atlanta set of Ant-Man. There’s also info from a day spent at ILM on June 15, 2015.

Yellowjacket Ant-Man

1. It’s the first film to shoot at Pinewood Atlanta Studios – Remember I said there were a lot of firsts? This is one of the most basic. Ant-Man took up every stage of Pinewood Atlanta Studios, a brand new movie studio in Fayetteville Georgia, about 30 miles outside Atlanta. It’s where Captain America: Civil War is currently shooting.

2. Codename: Bigfoot – Marvel films are so big and secret, there’s always a code name. Ant-Man’s codename was Bigfoot. I mention it because that’s the title on almost everything on set: the security passes, call sheet, cameras, the slate. The one place it didn’t say “Bigfoot” was on the back of the director’s chairs for the big stars. That said “Ant-Man.”

3. Scene 197 Part 1: Helicopter battle – Walking onto the stage, we immediately see a large blue screen surrounding the cabin of a very, very plush helicopter. This is the helicopter owned by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), the villain of the film. He’s shooting his gun at something and screams “Did you think you could stop the future with a heist?” Then a voice yells back at him off camera. It’s Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd. “It was never a heist! It was a demolition!” Cross then connects the dots and looks behind him at what we can only imagine is some kind of explosion.

4. Scene 197 Part 2: Previsualization -This helicopter scene is what the crew will be shooting all day while we’re on set. To give us a better idea of what we’re looking at, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige gives a little presentation. Feige explains this scene takes places at the beginning of the third act and is the start of the big action finale. Stoll is trying to escape and Ant-Man is going after him. But what’s it all going to look like? Feige shows us the entire scene in pre-viz.

Cross is shooting his gun, aiming all over the copter at Ant-Man. The hero is small, jumping around the interior of the helicopter and beating up a bunch of henchmen. Cross’s gunfire kills one of the henchmen, and shoots a hole in the window. The air begins rushing out of the cabin, sucking Ant-Man out with it. To keep from flying away, he quickly switches back to full size and grabs a seatbelt still attached to the interior. Ant-Man pulls his way back in. By the time he’s back inside, Cross is Yellowjacket (above), a full CG costume with four tentacles that looks like Doc Ock meets Ripley’s Powerloader in Aliens. They fight; Yellowjacket can shrink too. The two bang around and end up in a suitcase. The suitcase closes and flies out the window. End of previz.

Feige then explains that the scene continues in the briefcase, as it’s falling down to Earth. More on this scene in a bit.

5. Hank Pym links to S.H.I.E.L.D – Speaking with us, Feige explains that Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man played by Michael Douglas, was a spy for S.H.I.E.L.D from the 1960s through the Cold War. And there will be a flashback about it at the beginning of the film.

6. The Wasp is in the Movie – Everyone on set was vague about it but Feige confirmed Wasp is in the movie in some form and we might even see her in a suit. We don’t know if it’s the original comics version, Janet van Dyne, or Hope van Dyne, played in the film by Evangeline Lilly.

Ant-Man Hank Pym Michael Douglas

7. TimeframeAnt-Man is set a few months after Avengers: Age of Ultron and the events in that film have some effect on this one. As with most of the other movies, Feige says the original release date is a rough estimation of how much time has passed between movies.

8. The Pym Particle has been invented – When Ant-Man starts, Hank Pym has already been Ant-Man. We don’t see his origin story and invention, however. The story picks up years later when he’s stopped being the hero, the company has passed to his former protégé Cross and his daughter Hope, and he’s given the suit to Scott Lang for some specific reasons.

9. The mentor/mentee relationship is important in the film – The relationships between Pym and Cross, as well as Pym and Lang, are crucial to the movie. It’s almost a fatherly love triangle as each fights for the approval of their mentor.

10. The first Marvel hero with a family – Thor has brothers, Tony Stark has Jarvis, and now we know more about Hawkeye, but so far in the MCU no main character has really had a family. Scott Lang does. He’s got a 6-year-old daughter and an ex-wife (Judy Greer) who is remarried to a cop (Bobby Cannavale). The Lang father/daughter relationship, as well as the one between Hank and Hope, is another big thematic center of the movie.

11. Hank Pym doesn’t like superheroes – Maybe it’s because he was one, maybe he’s cocky, but Hank Pym does not like superheroes in Ant-Man. That disdain is one of the biggest connections in the film to The Avengers. At least, that we were allowed to know about while on set. “Iron Man is silly compared to what’s going on in the real world,” says Douglas about Pym’s attitude.

12. Lang’s Ant-Man suit is the same one Pym used – There is only one Ant-Man suit, at least in the world of the movie. (More about the real world in a bit.) In the film, Lang has to break the suit out of a safe so he can use it to help Pym fight Cross.

13. Hank Pym means exposition – Feige joked that Michael Douglas delivers a lot of the film’s exposition and explanations of how and why things are in this world, and he would joke with the producers about it.

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