In “Ant-Man,” main character Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) first instinct when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) asks him to wear the Ant-Man suit is, “I think our first move should be calling the Avengers.” With Marvel’s superhero team now famous — or infamous — in the movies’ connected universe, why aren’t “Ant-Man’s” villains as concerned about the Avengers as the film’s heroes are?
Zap2it posed the question to Corey Stoll, who plays “Ant-Man’s” big bad Darren Cross — aka Yellowjacket. According to Stoll, Cross isn’t concerned about the Avengers simply because he doesn’t believe they’ll catch wind of his secret evil plans.
Cross is a former protege of Hank Pym who becomes obsessed with cracking the secrets of Hank’s Pym Particle after his mentor sets him aside. In doing so, he develops the Yellowjacket suit, which is a weaponized attempt at recreating the shrinking and strength-imbuing abilities of the Ant-Man suit. He intends to sell to the highest bidder, regardless of whether they have good or bad intentions for it.
“The Avengers have bigger fish to fry, and once he gets Yellowjacket up and running, the Avengers really can’t really do anything to him,” Stoll explains. “I think he’s pretty confident about the capabilities of the Yellowjacket. If he shrinks, I don’t know how they’re going to get him — except now with the Vision, the Vision is kind of unbeatable. Maybe he doesn’t know about the Vision.”
That’s when Pym steps in and decides he needs a new protege to take up the Ant-Man mantle: Scott Lang. Lang quickly gets past the instinct to call the Avengers — especially since Pym hates them — and takes on Cross with his own team of allies. But Cross feels just as powerful as any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s heroes.
“I think what’s happening in this Marvel Universe is that the rules are changing in general,” says Stoll. “Technology is moving really fast and reality is changing. I think that’s a lot of what the movie is about. If there is this super team of superheroes, then why can’t I do this crazy thing? I think the world is just a little upside down.”
Stoll is no stranger to emotionally distressed characters; any fan of his “House of Cards” character Rep. Peter Russo could tell you that. His challenge with Cross was to make him a three-dimensional characters with clear motivations the audience could empathize with, while also making him a suitable antagonist for Scott Lang.
“Super villains are a tough thing to make real, because you want the deliciousness of the flamboyant personality of a super villain; you want someone who’s larger than life and whose weaknesses are very clear and either funny or scary. But in the end, the villain needs to be strong enough for the hero’s journey to be heroic,” he explains. “If I’m just a fool, then when Ant-Man defeats me it’s not that big a deal.
“That was the thing that we were trying to do, because there are takes that I’ve done of all these scenes where I’m really over the top, I’m really hamming it up, and then there are takes where I’m just colder and meaner than I am throughout this. Especially because there’s so much comedy in the film you don’t want him to be from this other movie and just be really bad, but also he has to be scary enough to warrant this hero’s journey.”
“Ant-Man” hits theaters on July 17.