It takes a village to make a movie. And for a big picture like Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp, this is certainly no understatement. I had the chance to visit the set last year and chat with the talented crew bringing this epic film to life.
If there’s one take-away from my time there, it would be that this movie is all about the tiny details. From the costume design to the set pieces to the visual effects, everything was imbued with heartfelt imagination and creativity.
A prime example of this is the Pym Lab. You may remember that Pym Technologies imploded at the end of Ant-Man. In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Hank’s refusal to sign the Sokovia Accords forces him to bring his tech underground. He develops a portable version of his lab that can shrink and enlarge at his command, becoming as small as a rolling suitcase to as big as a non-descript multi-story office building.
According to production designer Shepherd Frankel, the goal of the design was to have the lab hide in plain sight. “We started talking about the buildings that you drive by every day that you never notice. The places you go into to get your accounting done, and you’re, like, wait … what is this? Was this building always here? And we thought that’s a very cool way of creating a building that you just forget about.”
They also wanted the set to have a retro feel, calling back to Hank’s heyday in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when he was a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. “We wanted more than anything for it to feel very analogue, and super beta. Like, it’s the first generation. So you see a lot of exposed ideas … almost as if his journal is in three-dimensional form on tables,” added Frankel.
On big budget movies like this one, one would expect for there to be a lot of green screen with elements added in post, but I was struck by how built out it was. “I think this is the biggest set that’s ever been constructed for a Marvel movie in terms of just being a tactile set,” said director Peyton Reed.
For Reed, building the set out has also helped him to get great performances out of the actors. “It pays big dividends when you have the actors in there and they can react to something physical. We brought Paul, Evangeline, and Michael onto the set with the thing finished, and to see their reactions and see the joy of like, here’s a set that we can really move around in … but you’re still limited by physical space … lends this whole air of reality to it.”
Another major set piece audiences will be excited to see is the Quantum Realm. We got a glimpse of it in the first movie, but expect to see a lot more in the second. When we talked with VFX supervisor Stephane Ceretti, the team was still trying to figure out exactly what the realm would look like. “We’re trying to bring something kind of different and fresh, not just in terms of what the look of the place is but also in the way we film it, the way we treat it, and how it looks optically,” said Ceretti. “It’s like this really trippy place down there, as glimpsed in the first movie, but what does that mean? How deep do you have to go? Does it change as you get deeper? Is it a landscape? Is it a weird thing where your mind can’t handle it?” added Broussard.
And what would a superhero film be without epic costumes? We had a chance to speak with Specialty Costumes Supervisor Ivo Coveney, who told us all about the new updates to the Ant-Man and The Wasp costumes coming to the sequel. “The last one deliberately had the feel of a motorcycle suit and was slightly baggy… whereas this time…a lot more things are integrated and there’s more armor,” said Coveney. One of the biggest challenges on the sequel was perfecting the coloration of the suits. The team came up with the idea of having the suit be ‘gilver’ (a combination of gold and silver) and then went through 40 different variants before finding that perfect color. Truly amazing!
See the costumes, sets, and more come to life on the big screen when Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp soars to theatres on July 6. Tickets are on sale now! Get yours here.