How The New Marvel Superhero Movie Has Bring It On In Its DNA

This August will mark the 15th anniversary of Bring It On, your favorite movie about competitive cheerleading and stolen routines. To start celebrating, you may want to go see Ant-Man.

What does Torrance Shipman, the perky captain of the Toros played by Kirsten Dunst, have to do with Paul Rudd's Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man? The director, Peyton Reed. Making the 2000 high school cheerleader competition movie — which brought terms like "spirit fingers" and "cheerocracy" into our vocabulary — was actually good practice for Reed’s Marvel debut.

“Strangely, I think there are a lot of similarities between something like Bring It On and Ant-Man," he says. "They are both very kinetic movies where the camera is constantly moving. And just the physicality and choreography involved, whether it’s a cheerleading routine or fight choreography. I think that really weirdly helped prepare me for Ant-Man.”

Yes, those high-flying cheerleaders have something in common with a guy who puts on a suit to make himself shrink to the size of an ant.

Reed was a last-minute choice for Ant-Man. He was recruited after British director Edgar Wright, known for his Cornetto Trilogy, dropped out, amid tales of a fraught relationship with Marvel. Meanwhile, Reed said he has long wanted to add a superhero movie to his idiosyncratic list of films, which includes Down With Love, a 1960s-style oddball rom-com with Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. For Reed, Ant-Man was a “logical next step” in a career in which he's tried to make funny movies that feature camera movements that are as dynamic as the performances. "I never had any interest in directing comedies where it's just like, let’s put the camera here toward someone being funny," he says. "I was always a fan of movies in which the performances were not only funny, but where the camera’s placed and how the camera moves is fun and kinetic."

And while it might not seem like it from the trailers, another thread that connects movies like Bring It On and Down With Love for Reed is the attention paid to female characters. The movie may be called Ant-Man, but one of the key characters is Hope Van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) the original man to wear the suit that makes him itty bitty. “One of the crucial things to me in Ant-Man was to really explore and bolster the story of Hope Van Dyne, who is played by Evangeline Lilly,” he explains. “Particularly in the context of superhero movies, she’s as much a hero as Ant-Man and her arc from the beginning to the end is one of the backbones of the movie.”

Like Hope, the characters in Bring It On may not be future members of the Avengers, but they did get the hero treatment. “We shot a lot of characters in Bring It On in very heroic ways, where a camera dollies in on a low angle on a character or the camera is just flying around,” he said.

Nearly 15 years on, Reed described the experience of making Bring It On as akin to being a "summer camp counselor." Did he foresee the legacy it would have? "I knew I wanted to make the movie that I liked and that worked for me, but I don’t think you can go in directing a competitive cheerleader movie and necessarily think: Staying power."
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