In another move that proves Marvel knows exactly what its doing, Michael Douglas has been hired to join the cast of "Ant-Man." He's set to play Hank Pym, inventor of the "Pym particles" that fuel Ant-Man's size-changing super-suit, and originator of the Ant-Man identity. Opposite Douglas' Pym is Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a low-level criminal who steals the Ant-Man technology and eventually becomes a hero in his own right.
With Douglas officially on board, one of the big questions surrounding "Ant-Man" has finally been answered: Which version of the character will the movie focus on? The answer, if you're not following, is two-fold: Both Pym and Lang have central roles to play in the affair. But here's another wrinkle: What if Pym is the villain?
The question stems from an early report on Douglas' casting. Minutes before Marvel confirmed the news themselves, Variety published a report of their own, saying Douglas was joining the cast of "Ant-Man" as the film's villain. The outlet revised their report in light of Marvel's announcement, but the discrepancy prompted some critics, like BadassDigest.com's Devin Faraci, to question the Variety report:
Original Variety headline was 'Michael Douglas to play villain in ANT-MAN.' Misunderstanding or spoiler?— Devin Faraci (@devincf) January 13, 2014
Faraci's question received the following reply from Variety reporter Justin Kroll:
@devincf misunderstanding— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) January 13, 2014
Is that the end of it, then? Possibly. Then again, if Pym is secretly the "Ant-Man" villain, there would be precedent for it. In recent comics history, during Marvel's "Secret Invasion" storyline, it was revealed that Pym was secretly a shape-shifting Skrull, an incognito insurgent working alongside superheroes for years. Fox owns rights to the Skrulls thanks to their ownership of "Fantastic Four" and related subject matter, but again, it's proof that Marvel has gone the "villainous" route with Pym before.
That's not even mentioning Pym's responsibility for creating Ultron in the comics (he won't serve that role in the movies; it's heavily implied that Tony Stark will be Ultron's creator in the "Avengers" sequel), or the time he physically abused his wife, Janet Van Dyne. Even when he's a "good guy," Hank Pym isn't a good guy.
But there are plenty of reasons to believe Marvel will play it straight with Douglas as a noble (or noble-ish) Pym. For one, you can take Kroll and Variety's "misunderstanding" at face value; why not? For another, "Ant-Man" director Edgar Wright just yesterday pointed to a 2006 interview that outright revealed the film's dual focus on Pym and Lang:
"Well, the thing is that what we want to do, the idea that we have for the adaptation is to actually involve both," Wright told Edward Douglas in 2006. "Is to have a film that basically is about Henry Pym and Scott Lang, so you actually do a prologue where you see Pym as Ant-Man in action in the 60's, in sort of 'Tales to Astonish' mode basically, and then the contemporary, sort of flash-forward, is Scott Lang's story, and how he comes to acquire the suit, how he crosses paths with Henry Pym, and then, in an interesting sort of Machiavellian way, teams up with him."
That quote certainly implies that, at least on the surface, "Ant-Man" sees Lang and Pym eventually working side by side. But even then, if Wright and Joe Cornish's script involves an eleventh-hour Pym twist, why would the filmmaker let that secret out of the bag? Perhaps there is a twist in place, and perhaps there isn't — but if Douglas-Pym is evil, it certainly wouldn't be the first time Marvel Studios departed from source material in a major way. Just ask
the Mandarin Trevor.
Good or bad, Michael Douglas takes on "Ant-Man" on July 31, 2015.
Do you think Douglas is playing an "evil" Ant-Man, or will Marvel play it straight?