You would never know from Peyton Reed’s filmography — Jim Carrey’sYes Men, the Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston-starrer The Break-Up, and of course, 2000’s cult hit Bring It On — that the Ant-Man director is a bona fide comic-book geek.
But yes, Mr. Reed, has been attending Comic-Con for the past 21 years, read copious Marvel comic books in his bedroom as a kid, and even designed flyers for his 1980s punk band Johnny Quest, envisioning himself and his bandmates as members of the original Avengers. Who was Reed in this poster? Why Ant-Man of course.
“This was in 1988,” said Reed in a recent interview that aired on Entertainment Weekly Radio, Sirius XM 105. “I had a real affinity to the Avengers, and with Ant-Man, I always responded to the idea that when Ant-Man was in the Avengers he had an inferiority complex. He was the genius scientist, but he was fighting alongside Hulk and Thor and he clearly didn’t feel like their equal. And I loved that. Kids respond to that, and I think everyone can relate to that.”
Reed, of course, was tasked with the unenviable job of taking over Marvel’s Ant-Man last summer after the studio parted ways with filmmaker Edgar Wright. The film, which opens Friday, centers on the original Ant-Man Dr. Frank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his recruitment of cat burglar Scott Lang as his protege. Lang is Paul Rudd, the funnyman member of the Judd Apatow band of merrymen, who has expanded his purview beyond the comedy and drama realm into action-hero status. To Reed, he’s the perfect Ant-Man.
“It was important to have a guy like Paul take you into this weird world of Ant-Man. Ant-Man has two powers: He can shrink and control ants — those are pretty strange powers. Audiences identify with Paul. And they identify with him particularly in this movie as their eyes and ears. If the audience thinks something is strange in the movie, it’s a good bet that Rudd’s character reacts in the same way. It’s part of the fun.”
What could have been the opposite of fun was coming into the film as Reed did, following on the heels of writer/director Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) who had been attached to the film for years, only to part last summer over creative differences. The project was shut down for 12 weeks while Reed, with the help of Rudd and screenwriter Adam McKay (Talladega Nights), rejiggered the script.
“Both McKay and I are huge comic fans who grew up reading Marvel comics alone in our bedrooms for a good part of our childhood,” added Reed. “We had things from the comic that we wanted to see in the movie. We wanted to strengthen and deepen the characters and bring some emotionality to the characters.”
For more from Reed talking about taking over from Wright, take a listen to a clip from our interview.
And if you’re curious to see that original Johnny Quest punk band poster Reed created back in the 80s, take a look at his 2014 Comic-Con appearance below. At the four-minute mark, you’ll catch a drawing of Reed depicted as Ant-Man, flying as any drummer would be, on two snare drums.
We also asked Reed about the hesitations he had joining a film like this mid-stream, especially for Marvel, a studio that has a reputation for excess control of the process. For his answer, listen to this clip:
For more on Ant-Man, which opens Friday nationwide, check out our EW cover story here.