Look closely at the pattern in Ant-Man and the Wasp's costumes from the movie Ant-Man and the Wasp, out July 3. What do you see? According to one popular Reddit-born theory, the superheroes' costumes contain outlines of the insects that inspired them. Allegedly, there's an ant face in Ant-Man's costume, and a wasp face in the Wasp's.
Unfortunately, Louise Frogley is here to disprove that theory. Veteran costume designer Frogley is the visionary behind the costumes for three Marvel movies: Iron Man 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and, most recently, Ant-Man and the Wasp. She, of all people, would know whether Ant-Man and the Wasp's costumes indeed possessed the faces of an ant and a wasp embedded on their surfaces — and they don't. "We were trying to be Easter egg free. I wish I’d thought of that. I’m very sorry," Frogley told Refinery29 over the phone.
While Frogley squashed our desire to perpetuate this costume Easter egg, she did spill some fascinating secrets about the grueling process behind Marvel's costumes, and what happens to all of the costumes when the movie is done (the answer is top secret).
On Ant-Man and the Wasp's five-month-long costume design process:
“Marvel has a whole team of conceptual artists who work very closely with Kevin Feige [president of Marvel Studios] and his team. They come up with a really strong concept before I even start. My job is to work with that concept and make it into reality so that it can actually move and function and be indestructible. Not only do you have the principal person, you have half a dozen stunt people and doubles. They all have to have suits, too.
"[The costume] has to be very maneuverable and light and not too heavy. We experiment with different fabrics, different techniques. It takes a lot of tries, a lot of camera tests. It’s a long, long process of trial, error, and more trial and more error. Finally, it starts to work. Then all of a sudden it’s there, and it’s great."
On the characters' civilian sense of style:
"You try to learn as much as you can of the past history of that character. We decided that the Wasp was on the run for most of the film, so she would have a quite small wardrobe. Since she was a fugitive most of the time, we were trying to make her clothes such that she’d put them in a small suitcase or backpack so she could be self-contained and get on with it. We tried to make it athletic so she could run fast if she needed to. I put her in Balenciaga wrestling boots which we all loved, and she wore them almost all the time.
"I tried to make the Wasp elegant, but mostly self-contained. Paul Rudd [who plays Ant-Man] looks great in jeans and T-shirts, and it pretty much went with his character. We tried to soften up his ex-wife and little girl. We tried to humanize them, make them credible people you might meet on the street."
On the particular challenges of Ant-Man and the Wasp, from a costume designer's perspective:
"The large number of superheroes that were in it: Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Michelle Pfeiffer and Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp, and Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost. Most of the superheroes have two looks, one from the past and one from the present. There was a very big volume of work. We manufactured everything in a giant workroom in Peachtree City near Atlanta — the sculpting, the modeling, the laser cutting, the 3D printing, the sewing. We [Frogley and her team of 54 people] did it all in house."
On the need to reinvent superhero costumes for each movie:
"Very often when superheroes pop in and out of each other’s worlds, they’ll make a new costume. The assumption is the character has progressed a bit or their life has changed a bit. They can always go back to the originals, but usually after the film they’re pretty tired. Usually for each film they’ll make it fresh. The look will be fresh, too."
On why movie costumes are more subdued than comic books' costumes:
"I can only answer for Marvel. Kevin Feige told me that when they first started with Marvel Studios, they did do things very bright and they realized it didn’t look very good. It’s much better if it has a depth, because otherwise the eye would be tired seeing bright colors all about. We go to a lot of trouble with dye to get the colors absolutely right, so they're not completely primary. It just means the eyes have somewhere to go for the length of the film, so it's not like an instant blur and then you’re bored with it."
On where all the Marvel costumes go once the movie's done:
"Marvel has a secret warehouse where they keep them all. Then, they go out to museums. The They do exhibitions all over the world. They very carefully curate all of the old costumes."
On the most well-dressed Marvel superhero of all:
"The best you can be in a Marvel film is dressed as closely to how your character ought to be as possible. I’d go from that direction rather than best-dressed or not. Obviously, Tony Stark’s got the most money. Pepper Potts is very chic."