Marvel Studios knows a thing or two about a thing or two, and one of the things they know best is casting — even if it doesn’t always appear that way at first blush.
But all of the naysayers who freaked out when Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man no longer exist. Downey’s work in the film silenced that noise. Since then, hires like Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and the Chrises Evans and Hemsworth as Steve Rogers and Thor have only increased fans’ faith in Marvel’s casting choices.
It’s why there’s little to no public outcry about Chris Pratt starring in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Sure, he’s best known as the doughy Andy Dwyer on “Parks & Recreation,” but any related concerns are mitigated because (a) it’s Marvel’s call so it’s the right call, (b) have you seen Pratt lately, holy wow that dude got jacked, and (c) it’s Marvel’s call, so it’s the right call.
Now, put your ear to the Internet, and tell me what you hear. If you’re picking up on any major complaints about Paul Rudd landing the lead role in “Ant-Man,” then you have better hearing than I do. The fan reaction proves that once again, Marvel got it right with their newest leading man. Here are just a few of the many, many reasons why.
Dude, He’s Paul Rudd
That’s first and foremost. Rudd has been at the top of his game for a while now, oscillating between romantic comedy lead roles ala “This is 40″ and swimming in considerably sillier water with “Anchorman” and the like. He’s checked a lot of genres off the bucket list over the years, but “Ant-Man” provides him with a first: a full-blown action movie. It’s refreshing to think about Rudd in this brand-new context, and it’s not difficult to imagine, especially with Edgar Wright at the helm. Rudd is a likable presence any day of the week, but Rudd with “Ant-Man” is exciting on a completely different level.
“Who The Heck Is Ant-Man, Anyway?”
I have to imagine that question is on at least a few minds (if not all of the minds) when it comes to the subject of Marvel’s first Phase Three movie. “Ant-Man” isn’t an overwhelmingly popular or recognizable character, even among comics readers. In fact, there have been enough versions of the hero over the years that no one’s even sure which version we’ll see Rudd play.
It’s assumed that Rudd is playing Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and the inventor of the hero’s size-changing technology; but it’s also rumored that Rudd is playing Scott Lang, a low-level thief who steals the Ant-Man tech and becomes an accidental hero in the process.
With an instantly recognizable actor like Rudd in the lead role, the casual viewer will have an easier time getting on board with a fairly obscure property. It doesn’t hurt that “Ant-Man” comes stamped with a Marvel logo, obviously, but having an A-lister like Rudd really helps things along.
Treating RDJ Syndrome
If Phase Three is all about bolstering the Marvel brand with brand-new heroes (and I firmly believe that that’s what it should be about, even if we end up with “Thor” and/or “Captain America” sequels in the mix here and there), then Rudd as Ant-Man could become something of a linchpin going forward, a la Downey as Stark.
After all, Downey is only contracted for “Avengers 2″ and “Avengers 3″ at this point, with no further plans, “Iron Man” movies included. If Rudd is playing Hank Pym, he shares some key similarities with Downey’s Stark: both men are brilliant, both men are wise-crackers, both men are scientifically gifted, and both men are very into themselves.
Assuming Rudd’s Pym works as well as Marvel and fans hope and expect, then giving him a central role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while Downey and Stark take a seat on the bench could solve some problems — and prevent Marvel from doing anything drastic, like casting someone other than Downey as Stark to keep Iron Man alive.
Future Science, Bro
Picture “The Avengers 3.” Picture Downey’s Stark, Ruffalo’s Banner and Rudd’s Pym hanging out at a S.H.I.E.L.D. lab, studying Infinity Gems and scarfing down shawarma. If that visual doesn’t get you going, then we can’t be friends.
Are you on board with Rudd as Ant-Man? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below!