Thursday, December 19, 2013

Meet Ant-Man, aka Paul Rudd

I have always loved Ant-Man, and have felt that many comic book writers never knew what to do with such a square, straight-laced character, so they often gave him psychological problems and other issues to try and make him more interesting.  The funny thing is, those writers always wound up returning Ant-Man's alter ego, Hank Pym, back to who he was in the beginning, because Stan Lee knew what he was doing when he first created the character.  With my rambling set aside, it has been no secret that the first Marvel film after The Avengers: Age of Ultron, would be Ant-Man, and we've just been waiting on casting, seeing as the film starts production next year for a July of 2015 release.  Well, it's pretty much official now, after a good long while of it being rumored, Paul Rudd is looking like he is for sure going to play the Marvel superhero Ant-Man.

Yes, Rudd, who is best known for his work in comedies like Anchorman and the works of Judd Apatow, will portray Hank Pym, the genius scientist who discovered a particle that enabled him to change the size of his body at will.  Personally, I find this very smart, inspired casting.  I've always liked Rudd, he has this great, charming, everyman quality about him, and he has surprising dramatic chops as well.  Sure, he is mostly seen as a comedian, but he's played the straight man most of his career, just look at his work in Knocked Up, or even in Friends, and I for one think he is a perfect fit for Pym.  He has charm, but does not look like a superhero, which is what really defines Hank Pym.  He's a scientist, who's more interested in using scientific exploration to bring about peace than he is with being a superhero.  Now, the big question is whether or not we will be seeing the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, as well.

Ant-Man has been in development for as long as Marvel Studios has been producing their own movies.  Director Edgar Wright jumped onboard the project around the same time as Jon Favreau started the first Iron Man film, and Wright, alongside writing partner Joe Cornish, have been tweaking their Ant-Man script now for over a half of a decade, neither of whom have ever seemed to waver in their commitment to the project.  Back when they first started, Wright commented that the film would feature both Hank Pym and Scott Lang.  Lang was the second Ant-Man, but he was not a hero at first.  Scott Lang actually started out by stealing the Ant-Man tech from Pym's house when his daughter got sick, so that he could turn to a life of crime to help her.  Only after Lang wound up using the technology for good, did Lang become the new Ant-Man.  As of right now, we don't know for sure that this is the story that Wright and Cornish are still going to tell, but considering comments as recent as a few months ago with Wright saying that Ant-Man is a heist movie, this all makes me think that yes, it is, so what can we expect?

Personally, I think we can expect a variation of the story I just mentioned up above.  I think the film will start with Hank Pym as Ant-Man, and then he'll hang it up and we'll see Scott Lang steal the tech and so on and so forth.  The thing is, the initial idea was to show flashbacks of Pym as Ant-Man in the Sixties, but after the success of The Avengers, I just don't think Marvel Studios would do that, because whenever you do Hank Pym, you'll also have to do Janet Van Dyne, aka the Wasp, Pym's girlfriend and eventual wife.  The Wasp has the same abilities as Ant-Man, but she can also fire tiny little energy blasts called stings and grows wings when she shrinks down, enabling her to fly.  The reason as to why this nixes the whole idea of a Sixties setting, is because the Wasp is quite possibly the most recognizable female Avenger of all-time, and to do Hank Pym without her would be wrong, but to do it where the Wasp could never team up with the Avengers, would also be wrong.  This is why I think if we see any form of a Hank Pym who has given up on being a superhero, it would still be modern day.  Of course, all this talk about the Avengers brings up the even more intriguing notion as to if Pym or Janet will play any part in Age of Ultron, which hits theaters only two months before Ant-Man?

Right now, while Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon is saying that Ant-Man will not be a part of Age of Ultron, I still remain skeptical of those statements.  How often have folks in Hollywood lied to try and preserve a story that they aren't ready to be revealed?  Kind of like how Benedict Cumberbatch was for sure not Khan, only to wind up being Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.  The way I see it, I think it would be an utter shame to not at least include Hank Pym before he is Ant-Man in Age of Ultron.  In the comics, Hank created the titular Ultron, a robot he designed to be the perfect peacekeeper, who only realized that the only way to true peace was to eradicate the Avengers.  To do Ultron with Hank Pym would be strange.  While they can do it, I think that with Ant-Man and Age of Ultron being so close together, it would only be natural to have Paul Rudd in both, but I don't call the shots.

As for right now, all we can do is speculate and listen to the rumors, creating more rumors as we talk and hypothesize, but the real takeaway point right now is the casting of Paul Rudd as Hank Pym.  Will the rumored Rashida Jones join him as the Wasp?  I hope so, because I think she'd be a perfect Janet, counterbalancing Rudd with the charm and charisma she brings to roles, but once again it's just a rumor.  However, I'll leave you with something real.  How about some of the Ant-Man test footage that Edgar Wright showed at Comic-Con two years ago?  The footage is merely a concept of what the action in the film would be like, with Wright jokingly calling it "size-fu."  If this footage is in any indication, no matter what happens and what doesn't, we're going to be in for a good time when Ant-Man hits theaters, however it's all very brief.  You can see more by looking up the test footage on YouTube, but all of it except for the clip below is from shaky bootleggers who filmed it at Comic-Con on their phones and stuff.

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