For a tiny hero, Ant-Man has made some big headlines for Marvel Studios over the last decade — and not always the good kind.
Plans for an Ant-Man movie date back to a time before Iron Man arrived in theaters, going as far back as 2003 when Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright was attached to direct and co-write (with his frequent collaborator Joe Cornish) a standalone film featuring the size-changing superhero. Almost a decade after the project was first announced, Marvel assigned the film a release date of July 17, 2015, only to shock fans a few months later by announcing Wright’s departure from the project due to “creative differences.”
After a short search for a replacement director, Yes Man and Bring It On director Peyton Reed was announced as the new director of Ant-Man in 2014, with Anchorman director Adam McKay reworking the script originally penned by Wright and Cornish for the film.
Still slated to hit theaters July 17, 2015, Ant-Man will also provide the concluding chapter of “Phase Two” of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe, premiering just a few months after Avengers: Age of Ultron and just shy of a year before Captain America: Civil War kicks off the studio’s “Phase Three” lineup of films.
Despite the film’s uncommonly long development cycle, little was known about the plot of the film until the cast began filling out in early 2014. It wasn’t until Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas were cast as Scott Lang and Hank Pym, two of Ant-Man’s comic-book alter egos, that fans were finally made aware of which iterations of the superhero would play a central role in the film.
Still, uncertainty regarding the film’s cast didn’t stop anyone from speculating about the story, and in June 2014 a widely circulated rumor suggested that Ant-Man would square off against a similarly high-tech, costumed, size-changing villain in the film. The rumor had Ant-Man and this mysterious villain battling as they change from one size to another, with the villain’s suit offering a more militaristic design and a black-and-yellow color scheme with a “tendril” apparatus on the back. This suit was later said to be called “Yellowjacket,” borrowing the name of one of Hank Pym’s other superhero identities after he had abandoned the Ant-Man persona.
An official synopsis for Ant-Man was released just a few months later, and it described the film as follows:
Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Later that year, Marvel Comics announced its plan to publish a pair of comic-book prequels to Ant-Man, with Marvel’s Ant-Man Prelude (see below) hitting shelves in February 2015 and chronicling one of Hank Pym’s early adventures as Ant-Man during the Cold War in East Berlin. The second movie tie-in comic, Marvel’s Ant-Man – Scott Lang: Small Time was published digitally a month later and offers a prologue to Scott Lang’s introduction in the film.
As for Ant-Man’s place in the greater cinematic universe, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige explained the positioning of Ant-Man between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War as an intentional segue from “Phase Two” to “Phase Three” of the studio’s over-arching narrative during an April 2015 interview.
“Ant-Man is a different kind of culmination of ‘Phase Two’ because it very much is in the MCU,” Feige told SlashFilm. “You meet new characters and you learn about Hank Pym and his lineage with the MCU over the years. But at the same time, it also picks up the thread of Age of Ultron in terms of heroes – major heroes, Avengers – coming from unexpected places … And in that way it connects a lot. Also, Hank Pym’s attitude towards Avengers, towards S.H.I.E.L.D, and kind of the cinematic universe in general, is much more informed after the events of Age of Ultron, and in a certain way, before the events of Civil War.”
Marvel Studios kicked off 2014 in a big way with the announcement that veteran actor Michael Douglas had been cast as Hank Pym, and confirmation that Rudd would play Scott Lang, a thief recruited by Pym who eventually becomes the heir to the Ant-Man mantle. Over the next few months, the cast was filled out with Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Pym’s estranged daughter. Judy Greer later joined the film as Scott Lang’s ex-wife, and was joined by Michael Pena, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, and Jordi Molla, among other cast members.
Stoll’s role was eventually reported to be that of Ant-Man’s foe, a scientist who owns Cross Technological Enterprises, a powerful scientific research and development company that rivals Stark Industries. This was later confirmed by Stoll himself.
Along with the cast of actors joining Marvel’s cinematic universe in Ant-Man, several actors were also confirmed to be reprising their roles in earlier movies for the film. In the months leading up to the premiere of Ant-Man, both John Slattery and Hayley Atwell revealed that they reprised their roles as Howard Stark (Tony Stark’s father, who debuted in Iron Man 2) and Peggy Carter (who debuted in Captain America:The First Avenger) for brief appearances in Ant-Man.
On August 18, 2014, cameras officially began rolling on Ant-Man, with filming initially set around San Francisco, CA, before moving into a studio. Peyton Reed announced the start of filming via Twitter.
Alright, gang. Today is the day.
LET'S. GET. small.#AntMan
— Peyton Reed (@MrPeytonReed) August 18, 2014
Marvel celebrated the first day week of filming with the release of the first official image from the movie: a shot of a ragged-looking Scott Land (Rudd) against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Less than four months after filming had begun on Ant-Man, Reed announced that principal photography had concluded on December 5, 2014.
The Trailers & Promotion
Back when Edgar Wright was still attached to direct Ant-Man, the filmmaker appeared at the Marvel Studios panel during 2012’s Comic-Con International in San Diego to screen some test footage from the film. The footage was created to showcase the way the hero’s size-changing powers would look on the screen, and reaction to the footage was overwhelmingly positive.
To the surprise of no one, the Comic-Con test footage eventually found its way online nearly a year later:
Promotion of Ant-Man began in earnest in early 2015, with Disney releasing an “ant-sized” teaser for the movie’s first trailer. The microscopic preview-of-a-preview was followed by a full-sized teaser a day later, as well as the film’s first official theater poster, and finally, the first full trailer for the film. The Ant-Man trailer debuted during the premiere episode of Agent Carter, Marvel’s second live-action television series.
Following the release of the Ant-Man trailer, EW.com debuted a batch of new images from Ant-Man that not only confirmed the existence of his black-and-yellow costumed enemy, but also confirmed the name everyone had been using all along for him: Yellowjacket.
A second trailer for Ant-Man arrived a few months later with a more concentrated focus on the mix of action and comedy in the film. The trailer concluded with an excerpt from a battle sequence that featured Ant-Man and Yellowjacket battling on a toy train set, showing the action from both their miniaturized perspective and how it would look from a normal, human-sized perspective.
Shortly after the trailer’s premiere, ant-sized billboards for Ant-Man began appearing around Australia in another clever marketing campaign for the film. Billboards like the one photographed by Reddit user Camusfearna (seen below) reportedly became a frequent sight on streets, trash cans, and other areas around Brisbane, Queensland, and other areas of Australia.
Ant-Man premieres July 17, 2015.