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The Untold Truth Of Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania

The world of the "Ant-Man" movies came to the forefront of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in "Avengers: Endgame." Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his knowledge of the Quantum Realm proved integral to defeating Thanos, supporting players like Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) got to have respectable cameos, and even a van belonging to Lang's pal Luis (Michael Pena) got to play a sizeable role in the film's climax. 

This film boosted the profile of Lang and company considerably, which means more eyes than ever will be on the next solo "Ant-Man" movie, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." This title, set for release in February 2023, will see Rudd and Lilly reprise their respective superhero roles while facing off against uber-powerful foe Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

Even before its release, the lengthy production process for "Quantumania" has already helped to build a dense mythology around this MCU installment. This includes how COVID-19 impacted the original plans for the movie's release, which cast members from the preceding "Ant-Man" films won't be returning for "Quantumania," and how this project secured Bill Murray for a villainous role, among many other details. It's time to dive into the untold truth of the third solo outing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe's tiniest superhero.

The very earliest rumblings of Ant-Man 3

No Marvel Cinematic Universe movie exists in a vacuum. Each of these films is always being considered in terms of its relationship with other features and TV shows in this sprawling franchise. This includes potential follow-ups to a new motion picture, which was a buzzy topic as "Ant-Man and the Wasp" hit movie theaters in July 2018. Though this was only the first sequel in the "Ant-Man" franchise, director Peyton Reed was still feeling enormously confident about the future of the series as "Ant-Man and the Wasp" was being unleashed on audiences.

Talking to Comicbook.com, Reed noted that this corner of the MCU was always being created with one eye on the future. The first "Ant-Man," for instance, intentionally included elements that could be built upon in future movies, particularly in a mid-credits scene showing that Hope van Dyne would become The Wasp. This same approach was extended to various aspects of "Ant-Man and the Wasp," particularly the Quantum Realm. Though the sequel spent more time in this domain than its predecessor, Reed felt that there was considerably more to do in this landscape for future "Ant-Man" movies. This was just one of many ways that Reed and company ensured that "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" could build organically on what came before it.

The importance of Peyton Reed helming Ant-Man 3

At the end of 2019, it became official: director Peyton Reed would return from the first two "Ant-Man" movies to also helm "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." That may not seem especially notable, given that Christopher Nolan and Sam Raimi, among others, have gotten to direct entire superhero movie trilogies. But within the MCU, it's rare for a single filmmaker to be tasked with an entire triptych of motion pictures. Jon Favreau bowed out of the "Iron Man" saga after "Iron Man 2," for example, while Anthony and Joe Russo only directed two "Captain America" sequels and were not involved in "Captain America: The First Avenger." Some directors don't even stick around for more than one movie, such as Scott Derrickson moving on to other projects after directing the first "Doctor Strange" entry.

Reed is only the second director to direct an entire trilogy of MCU movies, following Jon Watts helming all three of Tom Holland's solo "Spider-Man" outings to date. This limited class of filmmakers won't just include Watts and Reed for long, though. James Gunn, who initially signed on to direct "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" back in 2017, will soon join them once his third "Guardians" adventure drops in theaters in May 2023. Only time will tell if future filmmakers in the MCU will stay the course for three or more solo movies like this elite group.

The original release plans for Quantumania

By the end of 2019, plans for a third "Ant-Man" movie were coming along swimmingly. Director Peyton Reed and star Paul Rudd were back on board, while Michael Douglas was talking optimistically about the project that November. Speaking to Collider, Douglas said that the plan was to begin shooting the third "Ant-Man" in January 2021, a little over a year after the interview was conducted. All seemed to be moving smoothly for the next "Ant-Man" movie, but not even the smallest MCU superhero could be prepared to fend off the horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With this worldwide health crisis putting a stop to all major entertainment ventures by the start of 2020, any previous plans for a third "Ant-Man" movie were now thrown into chaos. When Jeff Loveness was announced as the project's screenwriter one month into the pandemic, it was noted that there was complete uncertainty over when the next "Ant-Man" or any upcoming MCU movie would start shooting. That initial January 2021 start date wasn't just off the table, it was now a laughably implausible concept. Marvel Studios prides itself on sticking to release dates and churning out new projects constantly, but the COVID-19 pandemic put that standard to a rigorous test.

The arrival of Kang in the world of Ant-Man

By the fall of 2020, the plot for the third solo "Ant-Man" adventure and the larger trajectory of the Marvel Cinematic Universe began to come into focus with the announcement that Jonathan Majors would be playing this movie's main villain, Kang the Conqueror. Preceding baddies in the "Ant-Man" saga were largely human beings who get entangled in futuristic technology. An intimidating blue alien capable of traveling through time was an enormous shift from the "Ant-Man" saga's norms in terms of adversaries.

After Majors made his MCU debut in "Loki," as a Kang variant known as He Who Remains, the process of his casting became clearer. "Quantumania" director Peyton Reed had a say in who got cast in the role, but he also had to collaborate with the creative team behind "Loki" in figuring out who would play the role. Even though this decision encompassed the input of so many creative artists, everyone eventually agreed on Majors as the perfect choice for the part. It's a good thing there was consensus over this selection, given that upcoming projects like "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty" indicate that Majors will play a large role in the MCU well beyond "Quantumania."

The unexpected recasting of Cassie Lang

In "Avengers: Endgame," Scott Lang, after spending five years in the Quantum Realm, emerges to discover a world that looks drastically different than the one he left. A significant part of those variations is that his daughter, Cassie, has now grown up into a teenager, played by Emma Fuhrmann. The two have a tearful reunion after Lang returns, while this older incarnation of Cassie is also briefly seen in the final scenes of "Avengers: Endgame." Given how important Cassie Lang was to the first two "Ant-Man" movies, it only made sense that future solo outings for this superhero would include this new version of the character.

In announcing the full cast for the next "Ant-Man" movie, it was revealed that an older Cassie Lang would factor into the proceedings, but that the character would be played by a different performer: Kathryn Newton. The news was surprising to many, including Emma Fuhrmann, who took to Twitter to express disappointment with the development but also gratitude for getting to be a part of "Avengers: Endgame." Given how the MCU has returned to actors ranging from Tim Blake Nelson to Jim Rash to play supporting characters even after years away from the franchise, it's certainly strange that "Quantumania" would recast Cassie Lang, especially so soon after Fuhrmann's notable role in "Endgame."

Tom Scharpling's cut Quantumania cameo

Tom Scharpling has had an extensive career as a comedian, director, and writer that has also occasionally dovetailed with major acting gigs. This has included constantly being connected to the "Ant-Man" movies. Though it may seem random for Scharpling to have recurring ties to an MCU franchise, he has some solid connections to key creative personnel in these movies. Most notably, he directed "Ant-Man" star Paul Rudd in the music video for the New Pornographers tune "Moves."

Scharpling was supposed to cameo in the first "Ant-Man" movie as an unnamed cashier, but his scene was deleted from the film's final cut. He didn't make it off the cutting room floor for "Ant-Man and the Wasp" either, where he played the driver of antagonist Sonny Burch. Scharpling was supposed to reappear in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," but this cameo was again not meant to be. 

While appearing on Scharpling's podcast "The Best Show with Tom Scharpling," director Peyton Reed revealed for the first time, both to listeners and Scharpling, that the comedian's planned cameo in "Quantumania" had been cut. This came about as a byproduct of the film needing to adjust its shooting locations for budgetary reasons, which led to Scharpling's cameo getting removed. While Reed did suggest there was a slim chance he could still find his way into the movie, the odds are not good for Scharpling making his first official appearance in the "Ant-Man" franchise.

The removal of T.I. from Quantumania

In the first two "Ant-Man" installments, rapper T.I. played Dave, a friend to Scott Lang and part of a trio of former criminals led by scene-stealer Luis (Michael Pena). Though not as distinctive in personality as his two companions (which also included David Dastmalchian's Kurt), Dave was still a prominent part of the initial solo "Ant-Man" adventures. It would have been entirely reasonable to assume that he would return for this Avenger's next standalone outing. However, in March 2021, it was revealed that T.I. would not be a part of the cast of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."

This came on the heels of news that T.I. was facing allegations of sexual abuse and drugging by multiple women, which would lead one to assume that the two developments were linked together. However, Variety quoted inside sources connected to "Quantumania," who noted that T.I. was never slated to return for the film. Considering Dastmalchian is also not returning in "Quantumania" as Kurt (via Screenrant), it appears that this new "Ant-Man" adventure won't have time for the smaller-scale companions in Lang's life. Shifting the scope of the "Quantumania" narrative also has the bonus of ensuring that this feature won't have to tangle with T.I.'s assortment of legal problems and disturbing allegations.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Why is Bill Murray in Quantumania?

Bill Murray is a famously choosy actor. Murray famously has no agent but rather a 1-800 number at which filmmakers can reach out to him regarding prospective roles. If Murray's interested, he'll get back to the director, but often, these filmmakers never hear back from the "Ghostbusters" star. Given his isolated tendencies, it's a bit surprising to think that Murray is part of the cast for "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." Though the identity of his character is unknown, it's still quite tremendous to consider that Murray is appearing in an MCU blockbuster.

Murray revealed to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that it was director Peyton Reed that attracted him to "Quantumania," rather than any significant emotional attachment to the MCU. Being a fan of Reed's earlier title "Bring It On," not to mention liking Reed's personality, Murray decided to jump into "Quantumania" despite having no interest in the world of superhero films. Murray later elaborated slightly on his role, by noting that he was playing an antagonistic character in the movie. The difficulties of even contacting Bill Murray, let alone securing his talents, make it quite the feat that "Quantumania" was able to secure him for whatever villainous role he's playing in the final cut.

The massive scope of Quantumania

The first two "Ant-Man" movies were not devoid of spectacle or larger-scale adventures. However, in keeping with its titular lead character's shrinking powers, there was a bit more of an intimate scale to "Ant-Man" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp." The superheroes here didn't fight alien invaders nor did their adventures involve blowing up whole cities. Their fights usually occurred in suburbia and involved gangsters or corrupt inventors, while the stories were as much about comic antics as they were about punching. Not only did going this route with the "Ant-Man" adventures fit the low-key vibes of actors like Paul Rudd, but it helped these films offer something different from other MCU adventures.

With "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," though, the scope of the "Ant-Man" movies has radically expanded. Director Peyton Reed noted to Entertainment Weekly that, to gurantee something new compared to earlier "Ant-Man" movies, everyone involved wanted to deliver a gigantic storytelling scope for "Quantumania." This ambition was reflected in choosing Kang the Conqueror, a formidable Marvel Comics foe, as the primary adversary of "Quantumania." While Reed also stressed that the intimate and funny moments of earlier "Ant-Man" adventures wouldn't be eschewed entirely, the focus in "Quantumania" would be on bringing a whole new level of scale to the world of Scott Lang.

Quantumania is the MCU debut of MODOK

At the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, footage shown from "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" confirmed that the film would feature the MCU debut of a famous comic book foe: MODOK. While it wasn't clear what role this robotic organism would have in the story or who was even playing the character, the arrival of such a famous figure in the Marvel mythos is a noteworthy event. While MODOK has made various appearances in animated projects, like the "MODOK" TV show, those exist in their own separate universes. There have been various attempts to get MODOK into a live-action form in the MCU, but none of them have taken off until now.

"Agents of SHIELD," for instance, once planned to transform the character Anton Ivanov into MODOK before Marvel stepped in to nix that concept. The unrealized TV show "Secret Warriors," meanwhile, planned to have key supporting character Ernest Vigman (Keith David) transform into MODOK over the show's run. After several failed attempts, though, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" is poised to finally bring MODOK into live-action storytelling. 

The return of Randall Park to Quantumania

In 2018's "Ant-Man and the Wasp," Randall Park got to make his MCU debut as FBI agent Jimmy Woo. Tasked with overseeing Scott Lang during his house arrest, Woo is an amusing creation with subtle comedic layers, such as simultaneously working with the youth at his local church when he's not on the clock for the FBI or his aversion to swearing. Thanks to these details and Park's amiable performance, Woo became a major scene-stealer in "Ant-Man and the Wasp." Considering the affection he generated from moviegoers, there was no way he'd end up being a one-off figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Woo managed to return for more MCU adventures in "WandaVision," which allowed him to interact with other staples of the saga like Darcy (Kat Dennings). However, Woo's big-screen return will come in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." This development was confirmed at the 2022 edition of Disney's D23 Expo (via Yahoo!), though no details were offered on what role he would play in the film's storyline. Given that he was such a prominent and well-liked part of "Ant-Man and the Wasp," it's not surprising that he'll be coming back for the next solo outing headlined by these tiny superheroes.

Quantumania will kick off the MCU's Phase 5

At the Marvel Studios presentation during Comic-Con 2022, there was no shortage of extraordinary surprises waiting for attendees. This included a lengthy first look at "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," as well as a clarification over the feature's place in the MCU timeline. As revealed at this event, "Quantumania" is the first movie in Phase Five, which will eventually culminate on the big screen with the July 2024 title "Thunderbolts."

It's a momentous occasion for any MCU movie to launch the studio's next phase of projects. However, "Quantumania" being the kick-off film for the next series of MCU installments is especially interesting given the history of the "Ant-Man" movies. Back when Edgar Wright was supposed to direct it, the very first "Ant-Man" film was intended (via MTV) to kick off Phase Three of the MCU. Over time, these plans changed and the original "Ant-Man" instead closed out Phase Two (per Fandango). 

However, nearly a decade later, "Quantumania" will finally allow an "Ant-Man" movie to be the start of a new phase of MCU history. Thanks to Kang the Conqueror being its main villain, the film will also set up crucial details for upcoming adventures like "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty."