Paul Rudd says he has no idea if this Marvel film will be his last.
The third in the Ant-Man series, following 2015’s Ant-Man and 2018’s Ant-Man And The Wasp, it’s the first of the films he hasn’t also co-written.
“Maybe it is the end of Ant-Man,” Rudd told Sky News.
“I don’t really know. As far as what’s next, the only thing I can say for sure is that the Kang the Conqueror is going to be a very big part of whatever it is.”
The film’s director, Payton Reed, has previously referred to the film as the end of the Ant-Man trilogy.
But with 31 films in the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and counting, it’s not necessarily reason to believe Scott Lang’s time is at an end.
Being part of the Marvel films isn’t something Rudd has taken lightly: “They feel huge working on them because, you know, they are. And I think that [Marvel] have a way of making films that are different from other studios… Everyone who works at Marvel trusts in the machine a little bit. They’re good at making the things that they make.”
A big part of that, he says, is down to the people who work on the business-side of the enterprise, including the president of Marvel Studios.
Rudd’s unlikely comic book past
“Kevin Feige and some of the producers, they know what it is that they want to see because they’re comic book fans, they are Marvel fans. They’ve grown up reading the comics. They are fanboys and fangirls. And so, they really, I think, care about the product.”
But despite Rudd’s loyalty to the franchise, he wasn’t always so attentive.
Supplied by an English uncle (Rudd’s parents both hailed from London), the actor admits: “I read the Beano and Dandy more than I read any Marvel Comics, that’s for sure.”
Veteran stars return
Michael Douglas, who plays Dr Hank Pym – the character who invented Pym Particles, allowing Ant-Man to reduce and increase in size – is also a long-time member of the cast.
He says being back in the Marvel family is “like wearing an old coat”.
“It’s like the old film days, when actors did movies together all the time. It’s just comfortable.”
Much of his screen time is spent with fellow screen legend Michelle Pfeiffer, 64, who pays his wife Janet.
And far from being put off by all the technology involved in modern-day superhero films, the 78-year-old star says it was the tech that first lured him into the franchise.
“I’d never done a green screen before, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to do it, to see how it all works.”
But he admits that along with the highlights of Marvel come responsibilities: “Once you’re onboard, there is such secrecy about the whole process… You don’t see a script until maybe a couple of weeks before the picture starts, and then you don’t have much input.”
He also says it’s different to other films thanks to its source material – the “very strict Bible” of the Marvel comics.
‘You’re actually in the Quantum Realm’
Filmed at Pinewood Studios in the UK, the production had a whopping eight stages and 48 sets. And thanks to an excess of action and VFX, it’s a job that tends to demand more technical than emotional acting from its stars.
Kathryn Newton, who plays Ant-Man’s daughter, Cassie Lang, told Sky News: “It’s very much like you’re standing on your mark. OK, now you have to cry. And that is. That is hard.”
Evangelina Lilly, the Canadian actress behind Hope Van Dyne and describes one of the more technical stages – dubbed “The Volume” – as “overwhelming”.
She explained: “Instead of a green screen stage, The Volume is a stage that has thousands of small LED screens that cover the walls and the ceiling, and they project on to it. Everything you’re actually seeing in the Quantum Realm.
“So, the quantum landscape is all around you. And when they change the camera’s angle, it changes the landscape so that you see something different. It’s immersive. You’re actually in it. You’re in the Quantum Realm.”
Unlike the first two Ant-Man movies, which were set in San Francisco, this film is based almost entirely in the Quantum Realm – an alternative universe hidden within the multiverse, where time follows its own rules.
A place so-far unique to the Ant-Man films, director Payton Reed says it’s a location he was keen to explore: “It’s not outer space from Guardians Of The Galaxy or Asgard from the Thor movies. It’s a subatomic world.”
Partly inspired by electron microscope photography, he admits he genned up on Quantum Theory For Dummies ahead of his first Ant-Man film, exploring things like quantum entanglement in the last film, and Schrodinger’s cat in this one.
Plus, he describes the “balancing act” of being at the helm of one of the franchise’s many productions: “It has to sort of somehow fit into this larger architecture of this grand MCU story that’s being told but not be smothered by that.
“The way it tends to work is we make decisions and come up with ideas for our movie and all the movies and things that come after us have to deal with the ramifications. And of course, we inherit things too.”
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Indeed, this film kicks off Phase Five of the MCU, with two more films are scheduled this year alone – the third instalment of Guardians Of The Galaxy in May and The Marvels in July.
And as Rudd confirms, there’s one character who is guaranteed a return – time-travelling terrorist Kang. The villain, who has killed the Avengers so many times across different timelines he literally can’t keep track, is played by Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors.
In a universe with endless possibilities, alternate realities and super-charged powers, Kang’s oppressive presence is one sure-fire certainty in Marvel movies over the next few years.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is in cinemas now.