Peyton Reed on Making ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ “Radically Different” from ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Ant-Man and the Wasp director Peyton Reed says there’s a fine balance in keeping characters and franchises tonally consistent even as part of a wider shared universe.

The Ant-Man sequel is sandwiched between the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War and lays groundwork for Avengers 4, leading to collaboration between Marvel Studios’ stable of writers and directors.

“In terms of talking to the other directors, it is the basic information that we all want to be consistent about the characters,” Reed told The Verge. “If Scott Lang’s going to appear in another movie, or Hope, or something, you want it to be tonally consistent with what you’ve established in your movies. So there was always that.”

Despite having to follow the heavier and more serious Infinity War, Reed said there continues to be room for different tones and stories in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“But there is also that thing of — for me, anyway — being a director and knowing the vibe or the tone of the other movie. As I read stuff and looked at stuff from Infinity War, it just felt like, ‘Okay, this is good. [Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp are] both very, very different, and they both have different narrative ambitions,’” Reed explained.

“I think that’s what has become really intriguing to me about the MCU. It’s all under this umbrella, but the stories can be radically different and can be very much their own thing and very much the voices of the different filmmakers. That’s an exciting thing to be part of, creatively.”

Those radically different stories and voices extend to Marvel’s anti-superhero fatigue, as the 20-movie franchise’s continual switching-up of genres expands the superhero genre’s lifespan and makes playing in the universe “narratively intriguing.”

Reed, who directed big screen comedies Bring It On and Yes Man, said the characteristically funny Marvel Studios gets to embrace a full-on comedic tone with the Ant-Man franchise, anchored by funnyman Paul Rudd.

“And then also for me, having done comedies and different types of comedies, it was important to me from the very beginning to be able to do visual comedy. To do stuff that was not just the camera being locked down, and recording people telling jokes and being funny — but being complicit visually in the comedy. Those are the movies I grew up loving,” he said.

“And for that alone, it’s exciting to work at Marvel because it’s being able to do comedy on a grand scale and with the best people out there. I mean, Rudd is an unstoppable comedic force, but being able to put other elements — Michael Peña and now Randall Park — in this movie, who are amazing comedic actors. That alone is something I think that’s worth talking about. In the world of feature comedies, for a director like me, it’s a huge opportunity because we get to do character comedy, and we also get to do these set pieces that we’ve designed from the ground up as comedic and character set pieces.”

Reed always knew his breezier Ant-Man follow-up would come on the heels of the heftier Black Panther and Infinity War, and wasn’t fazed by the disastrous and traumatic events that occurred in the crossover. “I don’t know that it impacted us because we really were keying off the tone of the first movie, but it definitely felt right to us,” Reed said.

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“We always knew we were coming out after Panther and Infinity War, and it just felt right in the context of Marvel releasing three movies in 2018. We all felt like, ‘Okay, yeah. I like where we sit tonally. This feels organic to what we were already doing, but it’ll also be a stark contrast to what came before.’ And I always think that’s important. I like that.”

Ant-Man and Wasp next return in Avengers 4, in theaters May 3, 2019.