Marvel has been engaged in a tricky balancing act when it comes to “Ant-Man.” The marketing materials have been pushing hard the fact that his movie comes from the same folks behind “The Avengers,” with promo material even placing Ant-Man alongside Iron Man, Captain America, and more. But, like last year’s “Guardians Of The Galaxy,” the movie stands mostly outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though Kevin Feige teases that “Ant-Man” has a big role to play.
“‘Ant-Man’ is the movie that closes out Phase Two,” he told THR. “Phase One ended with ‘Avengers.’ So some people thought that Phase Two would end with an ‘Avengers’ film. But the truth is, there is so much in ‘Ant-Man’: introducing a new hero, introducing a very important part of technology in the Marvel universe, the Pym particles. Ant-Man getting on the Avengers’ radar in this film and even – this is the weirdest part, you shouldn’t really talk about it because it won’t be apparent for years – but the whole notion of the quantum realm and the whole notion of going to places that are so out there, they are almost mind-bendingly hard to fathom. It all plays into Phase Three. It became very clear that Ant-Man is the pinnacle and finale of Phase Two and ‘Captain America: Civil War‘ is the start of Phase Three.”
And perhaps this shouldn’t be a big surprise. Even though ‘Guardians’ mostly exists on its own, it still was an important part in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline continued in “Avengers: Age Of Ultron,” and it seems “Ant-Man” will have the same sort of subplot role in the MCU.
This approach to an overarching story has led to some criticism that Marvel puts their franchises first before filmmakers, with Warner Bros. honcho Greg Silverman saying earlier this month that their goal for the DC movies is to “put them in the hands of master filmmakers and make sure they all coordinate with each other.” But Feige insists Marvel movies have just as much of a directorial imprint.
“My response is: Look at the movies. ‘Iron Man‘ and ‘Iron Man 2‘ are as Jon Favreau films as you can see. Kenneth Branagh has his stamp all over ‘Thor.’ ‘Captain America: First Avenger‘ is very much a Joe Johnston film. The greatest example of that, look at ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ with James Gunn,” Feige countered. “And the one I always point out is ‘Avengers.’ We knew the general structure when we sat down with Joss [Whedon]. But I don’t want you to think we gave him a story. We gave him a ‘Here’s where we think the movie should start, here’s where we think this character should come into it; it would be fun if something like this happened in the middle and in the end a hole opens up and aliens pour out into Manhattan.’ So arguably, there were many pieces in place, and yet now that everyone has seen the movie, it’s completely a Joss Whedon film. He was able to take all the elements that were handed to him – that were studio-imposed, if you want to look at it that way – and make it his own. We wouldn’t have hired any of the filmmakers we’ve hired if we just wanted somebody who would do what we say.”
However, that approach of mixing studio demands with filmmaker creativity will be tested with the upcoming standalone Spider-Man movie, which will include the input of Sony, who still has the movie rights to the character. And Feige makes it clear what Marvel’s role in the project will be.
“We’re producing it for Sony. It’s exciting, and we’re treating it like we treat all of our films. To try to make the best version now of Spider-Man and a version of Spider-Man that inhabits this universe that we’ve created,” he said. “Without getting into the contracts, it’s definitely a Sony picture, produced by Marvel Studios. We’ve been working with each other for a number of months now. It’s been just as healthy as any of our internal discussions. We just look at it as having additional team members. We wouldn’t want to do it if we couldn’t do it in the way we’ve done all the other movies, and I think that’s what Sony wants from us.”
But what people say in a boardroom and how it plays out on the set can be wildly different, and it will be very interesting to see what happens.
Much more over at THR, with Feige saying he expects that directors for “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” to be chosen by the end of the summer. He also confirms he’s met with Ava DuVernay for “Black Panther,” and that Paul Rudd is signed on for multiple movies, and more.
“Ant-Man” opens on July 17th. Check out a new poster and character posters below.