This interview originally appeared on MTV News.
Last year, after Edgar Wright dropped out of directing “Ant-Man,” it was inevitable that the new director of the Marvel flick would be on the receiving end of considerable side-eye. When Peyton Reed, whose prior work includes “Bring It On” and “Down With Love,” was announced, die-hards scoffed at the choice. They would have scoffed at anyone who dared replace Wright.
But Reed’s “Ant-Man,” which he signed on to direct just over a year before the film’s release date, is a charming, funny, decidedly different superhero movie for Marvel. Paul Rudd, as the titular “Ant-Man,” just wants to stay close to his daughter, and save the world in the process. And if Reed has his way, sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” will also be different: it’ll be a movie with a fully fleshed-out female superhero.
Speaking with MTV News in advance of the film’s home release, Reed confirmed that he’s in talks to return as the franchise’s director. “We’re still in the middle of negotiation, but it’s looking pretty great,” he said. “I’m dying to come back and do the movie. I’m very excited about it.”
If all works out, this time Reed would be on board for the entire process — unlike on “Ant-Man,” when he stepped in to perform surgery on Wright’s draft and make it his own. And if Marvel/Disney does move forward with Reed, it’s important to him to make Evangeline Lilly‘s Wasp as awesome a hero as possible.
“That was one of the things that was important to me in the first movie when I came on was emphasizing the Wasp more, both Hope Van Dyne and Janet Van Dyne,” he said. “It’s a crucial part. It’s a crucial part because in the comic books, with the exception of the first handful of Ant-Man stories, Wasp came on pretty early on in the comics in the ’60s and you really thought of them as a partnership, a romantic partnership as well as a hero team. It’s going to be fun to play around with all the aspects of that in this movie.”
He said that he’d worked with Lilly on her character in the first movie, and praised her acting and physicality in the work. He said he plans to “be loud” to make sure that the Wasp doesn’t get the short shrift in publicity and merch for the movie, the way that many have criticized Marvel for the relative lack of Black Widow merchandise.
“It’s such a no-brainer that there needs to be female heroes,” Reed said. “It’s about keeping the stories interesting and having fresh stories to tell. I always like that about Ant-Man and Wasp because it dealt with gender politics as well as superhero stuff. In the comics, particularly in the ’60s comics, the Janet Van Dyne Wasp was clearly written by all men and was pretty one-dimensional. She’s gotten much more dimensionalized since then. That’s one of those things that I think is going to be really exciting and fresh about this movie. You do feel a certain amount of responsibility. At the end of the day it’s organic to that character and the movie.”
Not to mention, empowered female characters are something of a specialty of Reed’s.
“It’s been important to me in all my movies,” Reed continued. “It’s a huge part of ‘Bring It On,’ strong female characters, and ‘Down With Love’ is a movie about feminism. So to me it’s something that I’m just psyched to be able to explore in this movie.”
Oh, and before you ask: Janet Van Dyne has not yet been cast, though Reed does have “definite ideas.” Expect to see Ma Van Dyne’s backstory explored in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” too.
Reed has also been accepted into the brotherhood of Marvel directors, and has seen early cuts of Rudd’s work in “Captain America: Civil War.” He wouldn’t reveal whether “Doctor Strange” will delve into the Quantum Realm “Ant-Man” established, citing fears of a “Marvel sniper” lurking in the North Carolina woods he was calling from, but did tease another secret that he shared with other Marvel directors.
“There’s a very complicated secret [hand]shake that members of the Marvel Universe have, but I’m not at liberty,” he said.