THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS VERY SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
Since arriving on the scene in explosive fashion in 2008 with Iron Man, Marvel Studios has revolutionized Hollywood studio filmmaking in several ways. One of these, was perfecting the fountain of youth. Well, at least the CG equivalent of it. While several earlier films have employed digital effects to de-age actors on-screen, Marvel has used the technology far more than most and arguably to better effect. These were mostly resigned to brief flashbacks though, like young versions of Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War or Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2., but Marvel is stepping things up now.
As it is set in the 1990s, we knew that Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance as Nick Fury in the upcoming Captain Marvel would see him looking younger. After some recent set pics were revealed, I guess most people thought this would go as far as to just see him still having both his eyes and some makeup to hide the wrinkles of the 69-year old actor. I guess most didn’t notice the white reference dots Jackson’s face and/or hadn’t seen Ant-Man and the Wasp yet.
As I alluded to in my review for Marvel’s latest, we get to see Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer as a young Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne, and the digital effect is done so well that I mentioned that I would be completely on-board with Marvel doing some kind of prequel film focusing on this original Ant-Man and Wasp pairing with Douglas and Pfeiffer being de-aged for the entire thing. I wasn’t alone in this observation, but some thought this sounded unreasonable to do for an entire film. Except Marvel is doing that right now, as was revealed by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige in an interview with Peter Sciretta over at Collider:
PS: That first scene with Michelle de-aged, I mean, all the de-aging that you guys have done looks incredible, but she looks like she stepped out of a movie from 30 years ago. It looks so good. And while I was watching it, I was wondering if you guys ever end up doing like a prequel would you guys use the same, like if you were gonna do an Ant-Man prequel with Hank Pym or Black Widow prequel, would it be Scarlett or would it be Douglas de-aged or would it be a new…?
KF: Well, I think having the option is pretty amazing. And I think having the technology and even without spoiling anything, Sam Jackson is shooting a movie for us right now that takes, where he’s entirely 25 years younger the whole movie Captain Marvel. So that’ll certainly be the one–
PS: And Coulson, right?
KF: And Coulson. So that’ll be the first one where it’s a character for the whole movie, as opposed to a glimpse at a certain period of time. It’s the whole movie. So it’s possible, assuming that works. It’s possible. It’s very good when you are starting by the way with somebody like Michelle Pfeiffer or Michael Douglas or for that matter Sam Jackson or Clark Gregg. All four of them–
PS: Because you have an abundance of reference material or…?
KF: You have all the reference material and they have aged amazingly. They’ve not aged like normal humans. It’s like Paul Rudd. These are–
PS: Paul Rudd looks like he stepped out of Clueless. I don’t understand it.
KF: Yeah. He somehow can do that effect in real life.
We don’t know exactly the extent of the involvement for Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson – who at this point in the timeline should still just be a fledgeling SHIELD Agent instead of the Director he would eventually become – but all clues point to Jackson’s Fury featuring many scenes alongside Brie Larson’s titular Captain Marvel. If the young Fury and Coulson can prove as convincing for an entire film as the young Pym and van Dyne was in their brief scene, this could really open up the floodgates for so many potential movies set in the MCU’s past.
As Feige explains, being able to pull off a full movie with digitally de-aged stars all comes down to reference material. Most high-profile actors are now actually also doing extensive high-res 3D scans of themselves so this will become easier and easier as time goes on. And of course, it also helps to have Paul Rudd’s genes.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is in cinemas right now, while Captain Marvel has just wrapped principal photography this weekend past and is scheduled for release on 20 March 2019.
Last Updated: July 9, 2018