One of the hallmarks of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has been its crossover potential, with its pantheon of heroes frequently popping up in each others’ movies – and we’re not just talking about the Avengers films.
No, whether it be in small cameos or meatier roles, there’s an awful lot of heroic overlap in Marvel’s sandbox – which is why some fans may be disappointed to discover that the studio’s latest movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp, doesn’t have any big-name superhero cameos at all.
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“The idea was that this really wanted to be a little bit more standalone and in its own world,” Director Peyton Reed told RadioTimes.com of the decision, which he said was also influenced by Ant-Man and the Wasp’s proximity to another rather well-populated Marvel movie.
“We knew that we wanted to continue the story of these characters and then introduce our own characters that were really far more relevant to the story we were telling,” he explained.
“Plus the fact that we were coming right after Infinity War, which is really like everyone,” he said. “With the exception of Ant-Man and the Wasp and, of course, Hawkeye.”
However, Reed then went on to exclusively reveal that in an early draft of his new movie there was a pretty significant cameo, which was later scrapped in favour of keeping things simple.
The cameo was to take place in a scene where Michael Peña’s Luis performs one of his trademark flashback recaps, which (as in the first film, below) see him reimagine past events to have every character speaking with his voice and mannerisms.
In the finished Ant-Man and the Wasp, the new flashback sees Luis recap certain events from the original Ant-Man, but Reed revealed that one idea the team had was for him to do the same service for 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War. That movie saw Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) join forces with Cap (Chris Evans) against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and company for a massive superhero brawl in an airport.
“Early on, we had a version where we were going to do a quick version of the tarmac fight from Civil War, with some ridiculous thing where, you know, Captain America has Ant-Man as a baseball and throws him,” Reed explained. “Because the whole thing is Luis' version of events, right?”
“We came up with all these ridiculous visuals.”
In other words, we were VERY close to a comedy Chris Evans cameo – the very best kind of Chris Evans cameo, as we saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming – until Reed and his team decided it was one Civil War callback too many.
“It kind of felt like we’d referenced Captain America: Civil War so much, let's just do our own thing there,” he said.
Of course, the original Ant-Man film did have a notable cameo – Anthony Mackie’s flying superhero the Falcon, who clashes with Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang when the latter tries to steal some technology – but as Reed explained, that’s only because it fitted in with the story they were trying to tell anyway.
“You know in the first movie it felt organic to us,” the director told us.
“Because that sort of had the structure of a heist movie, and this sort of trial by fire that we had to send Scott Lang, maybe not fully prepared, into: go to Avengers headquarters.
“I think it was [screenwriter] Adam McKay who maybe first came up with the idea of introducing Falcon in the first movie. Just because as kids we loved the Falcon!" he reflected. “But here, it just didn't feel organic to the story.”
Oh well – for now, we’ll just have to hope that Luis somehow finds his way into the upcoming Avengers 4, and opens the film with an off-the-cuff Infinity War recap that will in no way undercut the dramatic tone the filmmakers were trying to convey.
Come on, it’s what we all want really.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is released in UK cinemas on 2nd August