Tell your loved ones it’s going to be really hard for them to top the present Marvel Studios has given you this holiday season: Paul Rudd is Ant-Man. After years of development, and Simon Pegg’s constant assertions that he isn’t teaming up with director Edgar Wright for the project, we finally have our Hank Pym!
Or do we have our Scott Lang?
There’s a bit of mystery surrounding the “Anchorman” actor’s casting unlike any previous Marvel Studios signing, due to the fact that there have been a few different men underneath Hank Pym’s signature bug helmet over the decades. Yeah, guys like John Walker and Eric Masterson replaced Captain America and Thor for a brief period of time, but both Scott Lang and Eric O’Grady have used the Pym-particle-powered moniker for years at a stretch, each one becoming the Ant-Man for an era of readers. And Marvel doesn’t make things any clearer as even the studio’s official announcement noticeably refused to specify which diminutive Avenger Rudd will be suiting up as in 2015’s film.
So which Ant-Man is it gonna be, Rudd? We have to know! And in absence of knowing, we’re gonna make some guesses!
Hank Pym, the Original Ant-Man
Why Paul Rudd is playing Hank Pym:
Hank Pym was the first Ant-Man. Not only that, he was a founding Avenger and he’s been around since late 1961, making him one of the first characters created in the modern Marvel Universe. The guy’s an important — if underrated — part of the larger Marvel Universe mythos, and that alone is reason enough for him to take the lead in “Ant-Man.”
“But Paul Rudd’s a comedic actor!” you needlessly shout at your computer screen. “He can’t play a scientist!” No, Rudd doesn’t fit the typical brainy-looking scientist type — but neither do Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo or Robert Downey Jr., who play the MCU’s resident geniuses. In fact, the Marvel movies have done away with the notion that big screen geniuses have to be glasses-wearing poindexters. Paul Rudd can play a scientist, and more importantly, he can definitely play Hank Pym as the put-upon and overlooked scientist he’s so often characterized as.
Why Paul Rudd is not playing Hank Pym:
Marvel may very well be worried that Pym’s often-cited history of mental instability and spousal abuse could give them their first real controversy if they package the character as a family-friendly superhero. Even the most dyed in the wool comic book fans find themselves split as to whether Pym as a character can ever truly be redeemed following his very rough ’80s appearances, so just imagine the potential firestorm when non-comics journalists get ahold of this information.
Scott Lang, Pym’s Worthy Successor
Why Paul Rudd is playing Scott Lang:
When his daughter Cassie fell seriously ill, electrician Scott Lang stole Pym’s Ant-Man gear to use it to get help for his ailing kid. A few misunderstandings later, and Pym agreed to let Lang mantain the Ant-Man title, so long as he used it for good. Since then, Lang’s served on the Avengers and as the leader of the Fantastic Four’s Future Foundation. While he’s nowhere near as prominent in pop culture as Hank Pym, who has at least notched a few appearances on the Avengers cartoons on his belt, Lang has grown into one of the Marvel U’s most beloved underdogs.
Rudd’s roles in Judd Apatow-grounded comedies make using Scott Lang a no-brainer. Lang’s a family man with a bit of a mischievous streak, exactly the sort of character Rudd’s played numerous times to great success. The character is also a bit more light-hearted in general, sharing little of the angst Hank Pym tends to labor under, which would give Rudd and director Edgar Wright plenty of room to cut loose with their comedic stylings. Plus, Lang is the current Ant-Man in the comics, providing a nice little bit of continuity between mediums.
Why Paul Rudd is not playing Scott Lang:
Outside of the Marvel devout, nobody really knows who Ant-Man is, and those that do often don’t know who Scott Lang is. The Pym-for-Lang bait and switch might not even derail the inevitable “Ant-Man beat his wife!” headlines, which will inevitably pop up on 24 hour cable news channels by spring 2015, no matter what. The Miles Morales uproar from the non-comics-reading public stemmed from the fact that major news outlets didn’t mention — or didn’t even realize — that it was an alternate reality Peter Parker biting the dust, and the same thing happened when an alternate reality Green Lantern was revealed to be gay. Do we really expect the non-comics media to differentiate between the differnet civilian identities of Ant-Man? As I mentioned earlier, Hank Pym already has a little name recognition thanks to the Avengers cartoons, and if using Scott Lang won’t deflect from controversy –which it likely won’t — then what’s the point?
Behind Door #3: Eric O’Grady
Wait, couldn’t Paul Rudd be playing Eric O’Grady?
Yes, Paul Rudd could be playing the third Ant-Man, the one that no one seems to be talking about. O’Grady even has a decent in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: he’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He’s a morally gross, reprehensible, misogynistic and lazy S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but he’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. The character was played for laughs, right up until Rick Remender redeemed him in “Secret Avengers,” which kind of makes him the perfect candidate for a film starring a super-powered obnoxious field reporter Brian Fantana and directed by the brain behind the meticulously kinetic Cornetto Trilogy. Plus, tell me the costume doesn’t resemble O’Grady’s “Secret Avengers” Ant-Man outfit just a bit.
However, O’Grady was co-created by “The Walking Dead” mastermind Robert Kirkman, which, depending on contract language, could result in a very high-profile creator-rights case. 2012’s “Avengers” blockbuster was surrounded by the controversy of Marvel’s treatment of Avengers co-creator Jack Kirby, and if Marvel uses Eric O’Grady, they run the risk of firing up a very vocal and prominent living comic book creator, one that can do as many interviews about the ups-and-downs of work-for-hire contracts as he wants. On top of that, Marvel would hopefully think twice about giving a movie to a character known for using his shrinking powers to spy on women while they undress.
With all that in mind, it really does seem like casting Rudd as Scott Lang is the way to go. He’s void of the controversies that could surround Pym and O’Grady, and he presents a new style of superhero — one with a family that he loves and fights for. We’ve seen super genius scientists before, and we’ve seen jerks with a heart of gold, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t have a guy like Lang. With Rudd in the helmet, they’ve just hired an actor who can pull that sort of character off.
Now, let’s talk about Janet Van Dyne…
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