The Director of ‘Ant-Man’ Was Not a Fan of the Villain of Ant-Man
When I revisited Ant-Man as part of my History of the Marvel Cinematic Universe column, and I got to the part where I wrote about what doesn’t hold up, my number one complaint was the film’s villain, Yellowjacket.
Darren Cross is the former protégé of Hank Pym who takes over his old company, uses its technology for evil, and then goes mad as Yellowjacket. He’s played by Corey Stoll, who’s a good actor, but the whole character was a lost cause on the page. Depending on the scene, he’s either “a cunning businessman, a brilliant inventor who feels neglected by his former boss, or a psychopathic killer so cavalier about his crimes that he literally executes his potential buyers in his executive washroom,” I wrote in that post. I also called him “the single worst villain in the Marvel history.”
I might have been a little hyperbolic, but even Ant-Man’s director, Peyton Reed, concedes that Yellowjacket had issues. In a new interview with io9 about the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Reed admits he wasn’t a big fan of the character:
The villain in that movie felt like a bit of a vestige from the era in which that project was started, [which was] around the time of Iron Man one, where you have an antagonist who has a similar power set [as the hero]. I was hell bent on doing something different in [Ant-Man and the Wasp].
Although it came out seven years later, Ant-Man was indeed one of Marvel Studios’ very first solo films in development. And one of the issues with Yellowjacket is the fact that he seems like such a retread of all the villains of the Iron Man franchise, but particularly Iron Monger, played by Jeff Bridges, another benevolent business inheritor turned mad super genius with a more deadly version of the hero’s powers. At least Iron Monger has a decent motivation for going bad; Tony Stark is standing in the way of his controlling Stark Industries, and then he wants to get out of the weapons manufacturing industry, which is nuts from a profit perspective. He’s just protecting his interests.
True to his word, Reed was able to get a very different villain with very different powers and motivations into Ant-Man and the Wasp: Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who can tap into quantum energy and use it to phase through objects. She’s not the best Marvel villain ever, but she’s definitely an improvement over Yellowjacket. Ant-Man and the Wasp opens in theaters this Friday.