Seriously, Marvel just keeps getting it right. As the second big MCU actioner of the year, Ant-Man and the Wasp is probably the most hilarious of the Marvel movies so far (and they just keep getting funnier and funnier), while also adding into the mix a poignant family-themed vibe.

The film starts off a few years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been under house arrest for his participation in the fray, which has also put Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) on the run for their association with Lang. Although he has been able to be there for his daughter the last few years, Scott feels awful he let Hank and Hope down, especially Hope. Of course, they are angry with Scott, first because he stole the Ant-Man suit to go fight with Team Cap, and second for forcing them to go underground. Or in this case, being able to shrink their huge laboratory at will and carry with them wherever they go.

You see, Hank and Hope are building a device, a tunnel of sorts, that will send them into the Quantum Realm, the place you can only get to by becoming sub-atomically small. Turns out Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) — Hank’s wife and Hope’s mom, the original Wasp — didn’t die 30 years ago when she went in but has been stuck there all these years. Hank and Hope mean to rescue her, and this eventually brings them back to Scott, who has a psychic connection with Janet and the Quantum Realm, having been there himself. Risking his freedom and his daughter, Scott teams up with Hank and Hope to get Janet back. Throwing a wrench in the works is Ava (Hannah John-Kamen) aka Ghost, who is also painfully connected to the Quantum Realm and is hell-bent on becoming whole again.

Naturally, Ant-Man and the Wasp also ties into the whole MCU landscape that’s been building for the last 10 some years, including Avengers: Infinity War. ScreenPicks had a good time sitting in on the press conference with the film’s stars, director Peyton Reed and Marvel head honcho, Kevin Feige. Here’s what we found out:

On the most challenging sequence:

Peyton Reed: There were a lot of daunting sequences because we really wanted to set out and go nuts with the technology in this movie. It occurred to us at some point maybe it’s not just Ant-Nan and Wasp who can shrink and grow. What if it were vehicles, buildings and other things and we really wanted to go nuts with it. But what that did was create some real technical challenges. We did a whole car chase that took us through the city of San Francisco and we wanted to do a chase you just simply wouldn’t see in any other movie because of all the size changes, so that was probably the biggest challenge. We wanted to do all these very specific things and make San Francisco a character in the movie, but utilize the city and make this chase specific to that city, landmarks, things like Lombard Street. Thankfully the city of San Francisco was so cooperative and we really had free range to do some of the craziest things imaginable in that city.

On the future of the Quantum Realm:

Kevin Feige: Without giving anything away, these are all storytelling tools — new places, new things. In the first [Ant-Man], we got a glimpse of it. There was a little silhouette of Janet as the Wasp in there, which is a big story element in this movie. There are things that you see, that Peyton has put in there, where and how they pay off in the near term. In the long term that remains to be seen.

On her favorite fight sequence and what she loved doing with Hope and the Wasp:

Evangeline Lilly: Well, I loved getting to be a Blade Runner. The knife shot in the restaurant scene is very, very cool. I love the kind of element of having somebody who’s completely in jeopardy, but also completely in control. Like when the mallet comes down to hit her, you can see like “Oh, shit!” moment. But then she’s completely in control the next second. It was just fun to finally get to see her take on the mantle because this is something that she’s been ready and willing to do her, basically her whole life. Her parents are both superheroes and she was rearing to get in that suit for an entire film. So to actually see her fighting in that moment was wonderful.

On explaining quantum theory in the Quantum Realm:

Michael Douglas: Actually Peyton cast me for this role because he did find out that I had a degree in quantum mechanics and was very familiar [laughter]. I would have to read the script again to be able to give a proper definition of the Quantum Realm. I know we get very, very small.

Evangeline Lilly: I actually can answer that question. Because I really love quantum physics and always did before this happened and that’s one of the reasons I was excited about this brand. I really dig quantum physics and you know, at one point we thought the atom was the beyond all and end all, that everything ended at the atom. That was the smallest nucleus in the world. But actually, we discovered that the atom is kinetic. Atoms exist in multiple places at the same time. That was scientifically proven and once you discover that, then you know that matter is kinetic and the matter is displacing all the time and if it can be displaced, it can be warped. So if you can warp it then you can warp size, you can warp matter and also, can you warp time? Can you warp reality? Can you warp universes? Right?

Paul Rudd: What if the way you see blue is the way I see red?

Evangeline Lilly: Oh, dude!

Paul Rudd: My mind is blown!

On playing the villain, of sorts:

Hannah John-Kamen: I definitely approach the character, not as a villain, at all. Definitely a threat to the characters and the heroes of the movie. But when you play a villain, you have to play it like you’re the good guy and everyone else is bad. So everyone else is the bad guy, and you’re the good guy. So. And she, I mean, the stakes are so high, she has such a clear objective in the movie and you know, every man for himself. Every woman for herself. I think with the villains, what Marvel Universe does so well is, is it’s not black and white. It’s very gray, and I think the villains are very redeemable and because they’re fun and you want to see them again.

Evangeline Lilly: I have a seven-year-old son and he loves violent movies. He likes to taunt me by telling me, “Mom, I love violence,” because he knows I hate it. When he talks about good guys and bad guys in movies, I always feel a responsibility to clarify for him. “Honey you know that there really is no such thing as a bad guy. Right? They’re only just good guys, who have made so many bad choices, they’ve forgotten how to make good choices. And a true hero’s job is to remind them of their goodness. Not to annihilate them, to kill them. It’s to help them redeem themselves.” I think that’s applicable to life. Superhero stories are fun and they’re a totally different world, but what I think is cool and is that to have redeemable villains, you’re teaching children that if you encounter somebody that might have a different opinion than you, that doesn’t mean they’re a villain. If they have a different objective than you, it doesn’t mean you should attack them. Maybe you want to try to understand them first.

On the film not only as the sequel to Ant-Man but a sequel to Captain America: Civil War:

Peyton Reed: It is a sequel to both movies and what was cool about Captain America: Civil War is we could not ignore what had happened to Scott Lang in this movie. It gave us an organic jumping off point because my first reaction was, what would Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne think about Scott taking the suit and getting involved with this and fighting with the Avengers? Well, they’d be pissed off, so it really gave us this whole starting point. What if they were estranged at the beginning of the movie as a result of this?

Paul Rudd: One of the things that was kind of nice is it gave us, I felt, a little bit of leeway to lean into the character because now Scott has been established. People buy the abilities. They buy me in the role. They understand the rules, so it felt as if we had a little bit more freedom. Would Scott do this? Would he make this, would he say this kind of thing? Would he make this kind of choice? Whereas I think the first time around we were still modulating. That was one of the really fun parts about this.

On channeling Michelle Pfeiffer:

Paul Rudd: I feel like I’ve been doing that for years. Every time we would refer to that scene, we kept calling it the “All of Me Sequence.” We’d have many conversations about it earlier on because this seems like a fairly big swing. It was surreal, to say the least, and there are those moments, you know, as an actor, you have to buy into this scenario and you’re playing the truth of the moment. But at the same time, as me being me and Michael being Michael, when I had my hand tenderly to his cheek, and I’m staring into his eyes, we giggled a couple of times.


On the family aspects in the film:

Paul Rudd: It’s true. This theme of parents and children run throughout the film. Fathers and daughters. It’s something that’s relatable because whether or not we have children of our own, we all have parents. I’m playing somebody that, like you said, doesn’t have innate super abilities. I want it to be relatable. I can relate to the character that way. Certainly when I’m thinking about it and we’re talking about story and script and everything that’s the approach. I have a daughter roughly the age of Cassie in the film. She’s a little bit younger, and while I know for a fact she’s going to want me to build a slide after she sees this – which is really hard to do in a New York apartment — I know what it’s like to spend the evening playing with Barbie dolls. That’s the glue. That’s the soul of it. The love that a family shares and how we need each other. You know, parents need their kids, kids need their parents. If we could somehow build a very funny movie, one that appeals to all ages that families and kids could see but that actually still has all of the elements that it fits in the Marvel Universe and all ages are going to be wowed by certain aspects of it, that idea I can identify myself, that role was huge.

On who the Wasp would love to interact with within MCU:

Evangeline Lilly: Gosh, I used to say, prior to this movie, it would be fun to see the Wasp with the Hulk because she’d be so teeny and he’d be so giant, but then we did Giant Man in the Wasp, so… that’s out. I just personally have an enormous crush on Okoye and would love a chance to hang out with Danai [Gurira] as much as possible, so let’s just say that. Besides the fact that I am personally going to continue to keep the rumor and gossip about an all-female Avengers film going — until it happens.

Make sure to check out Ant-Man and the Wasp when it opens in theaters this Friday.