After Avengers: Age of Ultron the third Marvel Cinematic Universe phase will begin with Marvel's Ant-Man. The thing is that there have been so many problems with it that makes me think this movie is in trouble.
First, let me establish why the movie started out with so much potential. Ant-Man has been "in progress" since before Marvel released Iron Man in 2008. Since then, the man ready to direct the movie has always been Edgar Wright. Actually, in 2006 he was interviewed about his idea for the movie:
What we were originally going to get, according to the interview with SuperHeroHype, is a movie where Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) was a super hero in the 60s, just like in the Tales of Astonish comic. After a prologue like that, in the present, Scott Lang (the second Ant-Man) would be introduced to take the Ant-Man suit. For whatever reason, the two characters would eventually team-up through astute measures, and there you have your movie.
This all made sense up until January of this year (2014), when Wright blogged an image with the simple subtitle of: "Homework". (I wrote a blog about it some time ago.) The image was taken from the fith episode of the second season of the animated series: Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (EMH). The title of the episode was: "To Steal an Ant-Man". In this episode Scott Lang was introduced and he steals Pym's work in order to save the life of his daughter Cassie.
The premise, at the moment, didn't sound too bad. I was excited for it. It seemed in agreement with the fist appearance of Lang in the comics: The Astonishing Ant-Man #47(that has a lot of parallels with the EMH episode and according to Wright, the initial inspiration for the movie). It was afterwards, when the official anouncements began, that everything seemed to go on a downward spiral.
It began with the cast announcements. Michael Douglas was added to the cast as Hank Pym and Paul Rudd would be Scott Lang. This agreed with what we already knew about the premise. In the animated series (and parts of the comic) the story worked perfectly because Pym was going through some sort of depression and had quit the Avengers. The age difference between Pym and Lang were nonexistant, and the villain was William Cross (Crossfire). The episode was fun and emotional (when you put a kid in danger, in this case Cassie Lang, things get emotional). The team-up between Ant-Man (Lang) and Pym's new hero persona, Yellowjacket, worked. Proving that Hank didn't have to be old to be somebody's mentor.
In the comics, Hank has taken on many identities as a super hero: Ant-Man, Giant Man, Yellowjacket and even Wasp. The only identity he has ever shared with anybody else has been Ant-Man and it was with two other super heroes (Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady). What am I getting at? To talk about the villain of the movie in question.
Time goes on and it is announced that the movie villain would be William Cross. In my mind that made sense, even though Crossfire is escentially a Hawkeye villain, in the planned story, Scott and Cross have some rivalry. It's also good to consider that Ant-Man's rougue gallery is not that vast since his challanges tend to be more on the scientific side. A borrowed villain is not a problem, but when we were told that William Cross would be Yellowjacket instead of Crossfire, geeks got mad and I was one of them.
In San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this year it was announced that the actor who would take the villain role would be Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris). Along with this announcement came another controversy, but I'll get to that later. It wasn't very long after when the man we all trusted in left. You should all know that one of the reasons, at least the fan in me, I had such high expectations about the movie were because of the director: Edgar Wright.
Wright's repertoire has many movies that match the genre hoped for a super hero story. (To get what I'm talking about watch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.) It was expected that the final product would impress. Everything changed when --the Fire Nation attacked-- the announcement arived: Edgar Wright Officially Leaves Marvel's Ant-Man.
If you didn't know about this: What rock have you been living under?! For all of us who knew this announcement was a punch to the gut, just a cm away from our nerd senses. Apparently, Wright and Marvel couldn't agree on some things so they decided to go their separate ways. Allow me to explain why this is so relevant:
Like I mentioned before, way before Marvel Studios existed, even before Iron Man, Edgar Wright wanted to make an Ant-Man movie. In interviews and more he made that fact very clear. Marvel worked with him to try and make this a reality, but his other movies got in the way of this happening. Meanwhile, Marvel began building the MCU. Marvel was great by allowing Wright to catch up since they didn’t include Ant-Man in their plans... yet. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne (Wasp) in the comics were founding members of the Avengers (even before Captain America) and she was even the one who named the team. Still, Marvel didn't include them in the Avengers movie because, apparently, they were waiting on Wright. This was a more-than-ten-years process and recently we could finally see some fruits of Edgar's labor; just before he left the movie.
My frustriation was not towards Wright leaving the potentially great Ant-Man adaptation (well, just a little bit.) It was directed towards the high-expectation turned disapoinment that made me think of a "What If" world where Marvel could've included Ant-Man and Wasp in the Avengers movie. Sure, it's too late for that... Afterwards I thought: We could just enjoy what we have. But we had it re-written. Peyton Reed (Yes Man!, Bring It On!) was chosen as the new director and Adam McKay gave Edgar Wright's script a bit of a "push" by re-writing parts of it. I don't question their capacity in the industry, if they had worked with Kevin Fiege (president of Marvel Studios) from the start, I'm sure the final product would have been amazing. But it's just an "if". They didn't "from the start" and there were over ten years of expectation that went down the drain.
Shortly after the second controversial announcement from SDCC about the casting choices arose: Evangeline Lilly (Lost, Real Steel, The Hobbit) would play Hope VanDyne. Not Janet; Hope. For us Marvel fans, Ant-Man without Wasp is not something we are used to. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne will always be together and it is a hard thing to separate them (Not even domestic violence!). Making Michael Douglas Hank Pym left one question: Is Janet the same age?
This is what we know about Wasp in the movie: Janet and Hank were married; they probably were super hero partners in the 60s. There was an accident that killed Janet and left Hank alone with their daughter Hope. Then, Janet exists (or existed) but let us dwell more: Did Wasp exist or just Janet? If Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne had a daughter, why is her last name Van Dyne and not Pym? Does this mean that Hope will be Wasp?
I don't have the answers, but I can tell you that Hope Van Dyne does exist in the comics. Se exists in an alternate universe where Hank and Janet had a daughter named Hope Pym ("MC2"), but she grew up to be a super villain with very bad fashion sense named Red Queen. Will she be a villain in the movie? Probably not. Marvel needs a romantic interest for Paul Rudd's character and will eventually need a Wasp for their Avengers. If we don't have Janet, why not use her daughter from an alternate universe. (WTH?!) Just when I got used to the idea that this would be a totally different character than expected, Evangelline Lilly shows off a new haircut that makes her look a lot like her "deceased mother". In other words, she's esentially playing Janet Van Dyne-Pym/Wasp completely for the exception of her name.
As you can see, the production process of this movie has only caused me frustration. It started out as a great idea with lots of potential, and now it just looks like Marvel Studios are making it up as they go. I don't deny the possibility that this movie will be a complete success and might win me over with an incredibly entertaining, cinematographic experience. (It worked with X-Men: First Class) Remember that moment when you watched TheHunger Games and the part with the Avox girl and Peeta’s amputated leg were omitted? Well, that is how all of us comic book readers feel when a movie adaptation is not done right. I hope that when this movie comes out on July of 2015 I won’t feel this way, but I can’t help but think this movie is in danger of being Marvel Studiosfirst legitimate flop.
-- Geo (sora_thekey) 24/7 geek! -- Follow me on Twitter: @Geo_sorathekey