Ant-Man: Marvel’s First Hiccup? by Jerry Whitworth
While unlikely any film could ever be called easy to produce, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man maybe the first movie the blockbuster juggernaut has stumbled over since the release of 2008’s Iron Man. In development since 2006, Edgar Wright (Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) was hired to direct and co-write Ant-Man which went through many changes before finally going into pre-production in late-2013. However, just as the some eight-plus year saga of development was finally about to produce the project, Wright left the film due to creative differences with Marvel. Intent on meeting its 2015 premiere date (as the film had been firmly queued with the steady stream of Marvel Studio movies coming down the pipe over the next few years), Peyton Reed was quickly brought on to direct. However, likely due to the creative differences Wright cited, the script was overhauled with characters cut as Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Insidious), reportedly a significant character, bowed out of the film which was delayed some months overlapping into his other commitments. Some elements of the current script were brought to light at the recent San Diego Comic-Con to mixed reaction.
When the Marvel Studio films began being released, its plots were fairly close to the source material within reason. As time has progressed, some steps have been taken away from the source. A major change that became a gripe with fans was the reveal of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. In fact, many raised such a stink about the change that the studio has backpedaled a bit, hinting at a more comic book-based Mandarin in a short film about Iron Man 3‘s Mandarin as studio head Kevin Feige has expressed a desire for a fourth Iron Man with the “real” version of the character. In the highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron, the android Ultron has gone from a creation of Hank Pym (the comic book Ant-Man) to that of Tony Stark as the delay of Ant-Man’s emergence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe made being true to the source too challenging to do justice. However, the plot of Ant-Man itself maybe the most altered material from the source of any Marvel Studios film to date. Where the Avengers have been composed of their original comic book versions, namely Tony Stark as Iron Man, Steve Rogers as Captain America, Bruce Banner as Hulk, and so on, Ant-Man will have one of his replacements under the helmet in Scott Lang. Portrayed by Paul Rudd (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Dinner for Schmucks), Lang is a petty thief hired by Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) to become Ant-Man to do a job for him. The film also cites several other significant changes.
For Ant-Man, Hank Pym invented the Ant-Man technology in 1963 however in the process of its development, some accident took place with Pym’s yet named wife and daughter Hope (portrayed in the modern day by Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame). Over time, Pym fostered a protege in Darren Cross (Corey Stoll of House of Cards) who became his business partner before later taking over Pym’s company. Pym hires Scott Lang as a thief to use the Ant-Man technology against Cross. Of course, much of this is comprised of fairly big changes from the original books. Pym and his partner (later wife) Janet Van Dyne were founders of the Avengers as Ant-Man and Wasp, respectively. Hope Pym was the daughter of Hank and Janet in an alternate future in the series A-Next where she played the villainous Red Queen. Darren Cross was a successful businessman who turned into a Hulk-like villain that fought Scott Lang during his first venture as Ant-Man. In the film, Cross is set to become Yellowjacket, one of Pym’s various identities over the years. Pym assumed the role of Yellowjacket during a mental breakdown caused by a botched experiment (while in this guise, he performed one of his most widely discussed acts when he struck his wife). Scott Lang was a reformed thief who stole Pym’s technology in order to save his daughter’s life only for Pym to give his blessing to keep the Ant-Man equipment and identity. In other words, the Ant-Man film is rather significantly removed from its source material which in the past has often been a decrement to a comic book movie adaptation’s success (certainly not always true, but perhaps more true than not). Only time will tell the future of Ant-Man, from will it even be made to will it premier on schedule to if it will do well at box office to the impact it could have on the future of comic book adaptations in general.