Paul Rudd and Peyton Reed zoom in on family for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Despite all the film's mind-bending physics, it's the little things that matter, say its star and director

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Ant-Man and The Wasp returned to cinemas over the weekend in the third act of their Marvel film franchise.

In the movie, superheroes Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and The Wasp/Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) explore the minuscule Quantum Realm, alongside Lang's daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) and van Dyne's superhero parents, the original Wasp Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).

The Quantum Realm is the tiny alternate universe were Scott and Janet were previously trapped, as well as the place to which the Avengers travelled to reverse the effects of the blip in Avengers: Endgame.

But, if all this talk of alternate universes and the rules of space and time is already giving you a headache, don’t panic. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania may be dealing with some weighty concepts, but much like the realm in which it takes place, it’s the little things that really matter, as director Peyton Reed tells The National.

“The Ant-Man movies have really always been about family,” Reed says. “It is a story about a family of heroes, and Scott Lang who is not a billionaire or super-scientist or anything, and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) who is the legacy daughter of two superheroes.”

For the director, at it’s most basic, the film is about the relationship between a father, Scott, and his teenage daughter, Cassie. “It’s this generational thing, and young Cassie Lang is Scott’s biggest motivating factor,” he says. “He wants to be a hero, obviously — he’s an Avenger — but it’s really about work-life balance and also finding time with his daughter.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking that finding an ideal work-life balance is a somewhat mundane starting point for a superhero yarn, but it’s a view shared by Ant-Man himself.

“He really does want to be a dad, this is his main focus,” Rudd tells The National. “He always had kind of a love-hate relationship with [being a superhero], but now I feel as if he’s accepted it. He is happy that all of that seems to be in the rear-view mirror, and now we get to have kind of a normal life; have some time together.

“It doesn’t last, obviously, as long as maybe he thought it would.”

Of course it doesn’t — we’re dealing with Marvel here, not the latest heart-warming indie to wow the crowds at the Sundance Film Festival. So, naturally, before the family moments get too cloying, we find ourselves back in the Quantum Realm, with a new supervillain — Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) — to contend with, and a whole lot of weird to take on board.

In fact, we get to see far more of the realm than we have in Marvel’s previous brief excursions there, so what can the director tell us about his microscopic creation?

“We looked at everything from electron microscope photography to things like Heavy Metal magazine in the '70s and '80s, and we wanted to bring in all these elements like this,” Reed explains. “We really drew from a lot of stuff: Flash Gordon, Barbarella, all these sorts of whacked-out things, looking at the covers of old science-fiction paperbacks from the '60s and '70s and into the '80s. We just wanted to assemble a team of artists and say, ‘We are creating the Quantum Realm.’

"We wanted to create this vivid world that has its own internal history and internal logic. How do you travel there? What are the laws of physics? All these things needed to be figured out, so we assembled this insane group of visual artists and we said just ‘bring some of your most fantastic ideas to the table and let's figure out what it can be.’”

The result is a visual feast that sits somewhere between an Oscar-winning production design on one hand, and the most garish extravagances of James Gunn-era Guardians of the Galaxy on the other. For all the visual lavishness and mind-bending concepts, however, it’s the still the human elements that float Rudd's boat the most.

“This makes no sense at all,” he says, with a laugh. “And what I like most about Scott is that he is a regular guy who has reservations about all of this. He's just a dad, that is part of this group with some pretty impressive people and superheroes, and he would be the first guy to say, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ His human quality is the thing that I like the most. There's nothing about the character that I don't like. I mean I’m biased I guess, but I like the guy.”

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is in UAE cinemas now

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Updated: February 21, 2023, 3:01 AM