“If you had told the ten-year-old me that I would be doing what I’m doing now my head would have exploded,” says Peyton Reed, director of the latest Marvel superhero movie Ant-Man.
The director, best known for making comedies like Yes Man and The Break Up, says he grew up obsessed with comics and movies.
“I read comics and got a Super 8 film camera when I was thirteen and started shooting film from a young age. My after school life was divided up between my jobs. I had a paper route and I mowed lawns to make money to buy comic books and buy Super 8 film to shoot movies.”
Marvel comics played a major part in his comic book consumption.
“The thing I loved about Marvel was Stan Lee’s storytelling techniques and his editorial attitude. Those Marvel comics had a clear sensibility. They were really of the moment and had this attitude that was equal parts cocky and self-effacing. I loved it. They created these heroes who all had real world problems. Spider-Man was Spider-Man, but he could never get the girl in high school and he had to figure out how to make enough money to pay his rent.
“I actually told Stan Lee this when he did his cameo in our movie. I said I grew up reading the comics and my mom was an English teacher and I became an English major and I learned so many vocabulary words form Marvel comics. He wrote in this very flowery style. If someone was disappearing into the microverse he’d write, ‘Slowly and inexorably he disappeared into the ether.’ I’d run to the dictionary. What does inexorably mean? What is ether? It was hugely educational for me.”
Reed admits his small-but-mighty superhero, Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd, has “really absurd powers.” His ability to shrink and control ants don’t seem as impressive as Thor’s Hammer or Hulk’s rage but, Reed says, “there is an inherent comedic component to the idea of Ant-Man which we also really embraced.
“I think one of the biggest things that helped was having Paul Rudd at the center of it because Paul manages to do something in this movie that I think is really interesting. He really does relate to these weird situations in the same way you or I would. He definitely acknowledges the absurdity of the situation but then goes ahead and fully commits to that situation.”