Often in the film Ant-Man, Scott will open and close the front of the helmet. When open, it uncovers his face so he can speak to people face to face, and when closed he's able to shrink. I'm curious how the filmmakers accomplished this feature of the suit.

Was the helmet prop a helmet with a real moving faceplate, or was it CGI, or was it some blend of the two?

  • 1
    I feel it's better suited on movies & TV stack exchange as they often have out-of-universe questions, especially pertaining to filming and production...
    – Stark07
    Jul 30 '15 at 6:32
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    @user867 From the site tour - "Ask about... Behind-the-scenes and fandom information". This question is definitely on-topic. Jul 30 '15 at 8:01
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    Behind the scenes questions about how effects were done have already been deemed on-topic on meta. Twice, actually..
    – phantom42
    Jul 30 '15 at 11:50
  • Ah, good to know. Thanks!
    – user867
    Jul 31 '15 at 0:56

Unlike the almost entirely CGI Yellowjacket suit worn by Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) in Ant-Man, the Ant-Man suit worn by Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a real costume.

Accoring to this article by ScreenRant;

Rudd suited up in the outfit to shoot his scenes with the helicopter and he wanted to show it off but couldn’t find us since we were checking out the third unit, where Ant-Man’s unique macro photography was taking place. So, in between takes when we were back in the first stage, he came in the room, fully suited up. He had to have an assistant unscrew the front of his mask so we could see his face.

So it would appear that although the helmet itself existed as a real part of the costume, it is unable to open up as easily as seen in the film.

However, this article from The Nerdist says;

Seventeen helmets were made over the course of the production. The stunt helmets were more rubbery and flexible whereas the hero helmets (the ones used for close-ups) are more durable and have more delicate parts.

So it is entirely possible that the one shown off by Paul Rudd to ScreenRant was simply one that couldn't open up as it is shown in the film. The Nerdist article also says;

The Ant-Man suit is fully functional in terms of electronics and freedom of movmenet[sic]. Using small circuit boards, the suit can light up and generally makes you look like a badass. Pym Particles are sold separately.

Which helps supports the theory that of the seventeen helmets created for the film, one of them may have been able to open up the way we see in the movie.

However, this is far from conclusive. All we can really take from these articles is if there is a version of the Ant-Man helmet with a working opening faceplate, it hasn't been seen (or at least mentioned) by anyone in any interviews I can find. Personally, I would imagine that the working parts required to have the faceplate open up would be more costly and complicated than simply using CGI to create the effect, but unless someone can find an article with an in-depth look at each of the seventeen helmets created, it is impossible to say for sure.

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    "[...] working parts required to have the faceplate open up would be more costly and complicated than simply using CGI to create the effect" - I find it amazing (not to mention fun) to live in times where such a sentence might actually make sense (wouldn't have when I was a boy). Jul 30 '15 at 9:12
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    A note about the spelling mistake in the third quote block (movmenent instead of movement) - this is a mistake in the article the quote it taken from, not a spelling mistake I have made. Jul 30 '15 at 9:16
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    theres an additional detail in the commentary: the red lenses were added in post. The physical helmet with faceplate had clear lenses.
    – user1027
    Dec 12 '15 at 23:28
  • There are motorcycle helmets you can buy today with a similar mechanic for opening the face plate. (Not automatically as far as I know, but that doesn't seem too far-fetched. Aug 20 at 14:54

TL;DR: Apparently Rudd was filmed in the open helmet and the faceplate was added in post.

Here is a quote from someone involved in the film's CGI:

"On the set," says The Third Floor's Jim Baker, "Paul Rudd was shot without the faceplate of the mask and Corey Stoll's Yellowjacket suit was also added in post. PFTrack and Boujou were used to track the shots and then the mask and suit were added in postvis."1

The Third Floor is an FX company in LA who handled the pre and post visualization mappings on Ant-Man, apparently in coordination with other groups hired by ILM. They also worked on Avengers and Thor: Dark World.

1: FX Magazine "Ant-Man: Marvel's Heist Film".

On a side note, several fans have designed & created working replicas of the helmet, where the faceplate does indeed slide up with the push of a button as seen in the film. Doing a Google search for "working ant-man helmet" returns several results detailing how they did it.

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