With the monumental Marvel Phase 3 announcement and the millions of views racked up by the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, you can be forgiven for overlooking a little film called Ant-Man.
You may have thought the hesitation with Marvel features ended when they surprised and exceeded our expectations with Guardians of the Galaxy. If so, you would be wrong.
If anything, Ant-Man is a far more divisive and worrisome feature than Guardians of the Galaxy ever was. Whilst Guardians was an unknown property with an unknown lead it thrived on a lack of expectation. Ant-Man has a packed stellar cast, so talent is in abundance.
Guardians also had the hardcore fan backing due to director James Gunn – a fan boy favourite and fantastic independent director. Gunn had already showcased his talents through Super and Slither so Guardians appeared to be in good hands.
However, the same cannot be said for Marvel’s Ant-Man. Everyone was in from the beginning. Before Marvel made Iron Man in 2008, they have been talking and drafting with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim), who would also direct. He was attached until the very last minute when he dropped out citing that his script had been variously altered.
In stepped Adam McKay (Anchorman) to rewrite the script and help director Peyton Reed to adapt Ant-Man for the big screen. And unfortunately for Reed that is where the hesitation began. Reed, not known for big blockbusters, has directed features like Yes Man and Bring It On – it was therefore understandable that fans, including myself, grew anxious.
So why am I excited at all then? Surely all this will lead to a catastrophic film that may be Marvel’s first true flop?
Actually I think quite the opposite. Let us first address the director issues. Although it has taken me time to accept it, I can now admit: Edgar Wright has to go. His distinct artistic style and flair would have stuck out like a sore thumb in the meticulously crafted Marvel shared cinematic universe.
Peyton Reed has always been on Marvel’s books. Reports state that he was in the running to direct Guardians of the Galaxy but that it was not the right project for him. Kevin Feige, perhaps one of the best cinematic franchise architects working today, clearly likes him and that’s all you need to know. Trust in Feige, he has yet to steer us wrong.
Then there’s the cast. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang will definitely be the surprise. Usually the funny man with a heart, I predict Rudd will transform into an action star with comedic beats, somewhere between Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt. It also helps that he is, as a person, very likeable.
Michael Douglas as his mentor Hank Pym is a no brainer and yet another example of how Marvel innovate with their lead choices but cement the talent through the supporting cast.
Iron Man had Kevin Bridges, Thor had Anthony Hopkins, Captain America had Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones and Guardians of the Galaxy had Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro. It is a simple yet effective model of ‘audiences come for the known talent but stay for the new and exciting talent’.
Corey Stoll as the feature’s villain is great. Suddenly catapulted to the limelight following his turn in Netflix’s House of Cards, Stoll is experiencing a second wind in the Hollywood limelight. Let us hope that Marvel can deliver a better villain than they have recently because the only good villain so far has been Loki.
But what excites me most about the film is not the cast nor the director and not even the Marvel stamp of quality. It is the nature and plot of the film. Evangeline Lilly, yet another member of the packed amazing cast has called it a superhero heist film. Yes please. Heist movies can be enthralling, fast paced, gripping and immersive if done right. All this in conjunction with a superhero adventure and established mythos is certainly something to be excited about. And if Marvel succeeds at a superhero backed heist, then surely they can make any movie they want.