In the trailers for Ant-Man, Marvel played up a funny gag: one of the fights featured a battle on a Thomas the Train Engine play set. Over on FilmSchoolRejects, director Peyton Reed talks about how that scene made it into the film.
“I believe in Edgar [Wright] and Joe Cornish’s original drafts it was a train set,” Reed recalls. “At some point in the process that predated my involvement it became Thomas. As I came on, they had not secured the rights to Thomas. We had to do this whole thing where we did this presentation for the people who own the rights to Thomas. Thank God they agreed and found it funny, but there were definite stipulations. For example, nobody could be tied to the tracks and run over by Thomas. Thomas couldn’t be doing anything that could be perceived by children as evil Thomas. Thomas had to stay neutral in the battle, which was always our intention. Like anybody, they’re protective of their brand. I didn’t know what we were going to do if we didn’t get the rights to that. There are certain things I was going to be devastated about if we couldn’t have them. Thomas was one, because… you could do any kind of toy train, but the personality of that
It’s not too surprising that there were stipulations placed on the use of Thomas in Ant-Man: numerous companies protect the image of their brands in addition to the intellectual property itself. It’s great to see that the rights holders in this case saw the humor in the scene and allowed it to happen.