Michael Muller Goes Big for Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe was upended at the end of 'Avengers: Infinity War,' and as the world awaits the next Avengers sequel the MCU has dropped a little piece of narrative candy to help us get to the next chapter: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp.' The first Ant-Man movie was a comparative light-hearted romp compared to the recent developments in Marvel’s universe, and the latest installment is in the exact same vein. Scott Lang, the alter ego of Ant-Man, is the perfect modern underdog, almost an anti-hero, but when Michael Muller came on to shoot the key art for the blockbuster he kept it classic.
Not only did Michael create an epic poster featuring all the actors in costume in an update of the traditional Drew Struzan style, he also photographed character posters for each of the main characters. It is a blistering cast of the highest talent. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne and Hannah John-Kamen in the images that are at once energetic and engrossing. Part of what makes the posters so exciting is that they reveal pieces of the story without giving it all away: Pfeiffer is dressed up in her own superhero costume, Douglas and Fishburne’s wardrobe imply an unknown history, John-Kamen (who plays the billed villain) is the only one looking away from the audience, focused on another outside threat. Michael has used the opportunity present in each composition to give us more than just an aesthetic treat: he’s giving us clues to draw us into the story.
'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is expected to dominate the box office for most of the summer, but one thing is for sure: Michael has given us a taste and we cannot wait for more.
Michael Muller Knocks 'Em Dead with 'Deadpool 2'
You’ve already seen the images that Michael Muller shot of Ryan Reynolds dressed up as the fan favorite Marvel superhero Deadpool. With the release of Deadpool 2, the sequel to the massively successful initial offering, the posters are not only in every city on practically every surface, but the marketing extended far beyond traditional advertising. Michael photographed the cast of the film for what has turned into one of the broadest media blitzes in recent memory. Everything from classic blockbuster movie posters, to parody work that plays off classic imagery, all the way to co-branded material with Trolli, all of it has Michael’s touch on it. You cannot escape America’s favorite antihero superhero and with images like this, why would you want to?
The original Deadpool film ended up as the highest grossing rated-R movie in history, with materials shot by Michael as well, so it was a no-brainer that the studio would come back for round two and invite Michael to be a part of it again. One week in and the sequel is on track to take over the popularity and the numbers as the original.
For the Deadpool 2 shoot, Michael met up with the actors Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, and Zazie Beetz in what started as a traditional image capture session but turned into a creative and collaborative session, playing off of Reynolds’ creative riffs. Michael guesses they shot “45-50 completely different shots/concepts in a day.” Reynolds and the Deadpool team were able to take those shots and turn them into a series of inventive images that lampoon other concepts like World War Z, moments from Flashdance, and even the Sistine Chapel. As Deadpool 2 continues to dominate the box office, let us not forget its the franchise's signature humor that keeps fans coming back and Michael created the perfect facsimile of that humor to extend into the promotional work.
Robert De Niro Gives Two Thumbs Up to Michael Muller's Cannes Bound "Into The Now"
You haven’t had a real swimming with sharks VR experience. Not yet at least. Maybe someone created a gorgeous digital approximation or you’ve seen some cool 360 videos from underwater, but there hasn’t been anything on the market that makes it feel like you’re actually there with the sharks. Until now. Michael Muller just debuted his underwater VR experience ‘Into the Now’ at the TriBeCa Film Festival that builds off his expertise of photographing sharks underwater. The experience is on its way to the Cannes Film Festival now, but before they left New York, Robert De Niro took it for a spin and gave a very worthy two thumbs up.
'Into the Now' is traveling all over the world because it offers much more than a traditional VR experience. “The same way Jacques Cousteau inspired me and planted that seed to go out and explore and swim in the oceans, I hope that a little young girl or boy watches ‘Into the Now’ and it plants a seed,” says Michael. “I want to really educate and inspire this next generation to fall in love with our oceans, to learn that we still have such amazing oceans and there are so many amazing things still there.”
The journey to ‘Into the Now’ is decades long and the results are hauntingly inevitable. The first photograph Michael ever took was of a shark. Well, kind of. It was a photograph of a photograph of a shark he found in an issue of National Geographic. He snapped the photo on his first camera, got the film developed, and told everyone he took it, and then he spent the rest of his career turning it into a reality. He began photographing animals underwater after establishing himself as a celebrity shooter, including the posters for the very first Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. After photographing high profile subjects with impeccable lighting and controlled sets for so long, Michael found himself unimpressed by underwater photography equipment. “I wanted to light a Great White like I do Iron Man,” he says. So instead of operating with the status quo, he created a whole new lighting system for underwater photography, working with an engineer from JPL and ending up with four patents.
This set him up perfectly for the VR project years later because he ended up having to create a new image capture system almost entirely from scratch.
Before even experiencing VR for himself, he knew it was the movement of the future and wanted to get in on the ground floor. So before he got on a plane to shoot a campaign in Antigua where he'd be off the grid for a few weeks, he sent out a flurry of emails looking for partners on what would eventually become ‘Into the Now.’ Three weeks later he got back home to an email inbox showing interest from everyone he reached out to. At the same time, some very high-level neurologists showed interest. “Two days later I got a call from Andy Huberman at Stanford University and he said, ‘We’re really interested in your shark work.’” Huberman was studying PTSD responses and was thrilled by Michael’s story of starting deathly afraid of sharks to swimming with Great Whites outside the cage. He saw an opportunity to use Michael’s work as a blueprint to help those affected by the disorder.
One by one the pieces came together for the project to turn into something massive.
Michael quickly secured the funding he needed to create the picture. He developed the technology he needed to capture the picture. And he worked with Huberman to get the data that they needed to extend the picture beyond a one time experience. The results are a fully immersive experience that confronts the viewer with the reality of being with the intimidating creatures, allowing the audience to live through those moments as truly as possible without getting wet. It’s available to anyone who can get to it, and Michael and his team have even created an educational portal so kids can study the ocean biology under the waves, plus it’s being used with military veterans and at Children’s Hospitals to let them explore the ocean. But in the end, it was the experience that was most important to Michael and you’ve got to experience it if you want to understand the full story. “I don’t really want to go into that too much because it will give away the film, and I want the film to be a bit of a surprise for people,” he said on the eve of ‘Into the Now’s premiere.
‘Into the Now’ is set to show at the Cannes Film Festival that opens on May 8.
Michael Muller Joins the Roster at B&A
We are thrilled to welcome Michael Muller to the roster here at B&A.
Michael’s career began in earnest after a childhood of world travel he settled on photographing snowboarders. The excitement and explosive energy in that sport appeared on every frame, priming him for a career that’s all about finding excellence stored in a fraction of a second. “When people view my work, I simply want to evoke emotion, and let the viewer feel they are in fact alive,” he says.
Michael is a Hollywood favorite photographing the official art for huge movie franchises like Marvel’s Avengers, Iron Man, Captain American, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Deadpool (and a bunch of those sequels), plus another superhero movie dropping later this year that we can’t wait to share with you.
Outside of photographing celebrities and blockbuster films and editorials for the best publications in the world, Michael is known for his series of underwater photography, chasing sharks all over the world and getting intimate with them, capturing unprecedented imagery that’s as shocking as it is enticing. Checking the photos out online isn’t enough: you’ve got to grab the book published by Taschen.
If you love Michael’s work as much as we do and want to learn how to do it yourself, check out his iPhone app MullerPhoto that offers editing techniques that match his style.
Please help us in welcoming Michael Muller to the B&A family!