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When it comes to making sequels, The Empire Strikes Back has been used as a reference point by filmmakers for decades. After all, it's one of the most successful and exciting follow-ups of all time, so why not use it as a model? Of course, there are many lessons to be taken from the legendary blockbuster, but there is interestingly one in particular that has inspired director Peyton Reed in the making of the upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp:
I like when you're doing a sequel or a next movie, I always like the ones where the jumping off point for the characters is different than when you left them. I know that everyone who's ever made a second installment of something refers to the Empire Strikes Back as the gold standard, but as a kid, I was sixteen when that movie came out, and I loved that they really leapt ahead. The heroes are somewhere else now, and the audience has to kind of catch up to what's going on, and what happened. And they're forwarded in terms of their character, but also in terms of their circumstances. That felt like something we really wanted to do.
Ant-Man and The Wasp is kind of an unconventional direct sequel, as one of its main heroes had a small supporting role in another blockbuster before it (gotta love the Marvel Cinematic Universe), but Peyton Reed wound up finding that as a benefit instead of a detriment. Along with a small group of other film journalists, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the director on the set of his upcoming movie last year, and it was during that roundtable that he discussed his Empire Strikes Back influence. It's not about making things darker or having the heroes lose -- it's just about creatively catching up with the protagonists in an unexpected place.
Certainly one of the biggest challenges being a Marvel Studios filmmaker must be keeping up with the continuity and ensuring that individual visions don't collide -- but in the case of Ant-Man and The Wasp, those kinds of "roadblocks" worked as prompts to a certain degree. As Peyton Reed revealed during our interview, the events of Captain America: Civil War forced him to confront certain important background questions for his characters, and the answers to those queries put him on the path towards helping to constructing a proper sequel story:
It also felt like because of what happened with Scott Lang in the brief time he's in Civil War, we couldn't ignore those circumstances. And for our jumping off point, my first questions were: What did Hank and Hope know about Scott going off and dealing with that situation with The Avengers? And did they know about it? How did they feel about it? And surely, this would have caused some kind of tension at worst, and rift at best between the characters, because Hank Pym's very clear in the first movie about how he feels about Stark and how he feels about The Avengers, and being very protective of this technology that he has. So that seemed like a really ripe sort of place to start in terms of the character development.
As it turns out, the whole situation creates a ton of conflict -- which is used by the movie as story fuel. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) made the decision to turn himself in, and wound up being put under house arrest. As for Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), they never authorized Scott to take the Ant-Man suit for the mission in Germany, and they aren't too happy with him -- not to mention the fact that they are on the run because they won't comply with the Sokovia Accords. Unfortunately, they need him for the mission they are trying to complete, which unites one of the most iconic duos in Marvel Comics: Ant-Man and The Wasp.
With Avengers: Infinity War in the rearview mirror, Ant-Man and The Wasp is the next big adventure for Marvel Studios, and it's coming up soon. The comic book adventure film will be in theaters on July 6 -- and be sure to keep following CinemaBlend, as we still have a lot more articles coming from my time on set.