Wording can be very tricky in Hollywood. There is a very distinct difference between an actor being eyed for a project, being in negotiations, and being signed on to a project. So when it was revealed last night in a trade report that Paul Rudd was in talks to star as Ant-Man in the upcoming Marvel Studios film of the same name, it came with the knowledge that a signature had not yet been put down on paper. That is no longer the case.
Marvel Studios has officially announced that Rudd is now set to star in the next Edgar Wright film, which will be the first Marvel film after Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 and will kick off the studios big Phase Three plans. In the official announcement about the casting, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige sounds elated to have the Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues star on-board, saying,
"When Edgar Wright came to us with the idea of Paul Rudd, we felt a huge sense of relief because the first step in creating any Marvel Studios film is finding the right star. We knew early on that we had found the right person in Paul. When he not only agreed to do it but became as enthusiastic as any actor we’d ever met with about doing the work, we knew we’d found the right guy. We couldn’t be more excited for our audiences to see what he’s going to do to bring Ant-Man to life."
Ant-Man is being co-written by Wright and his Adventures of Tintin co-writer Joe Cornish, and production on the film is scheduled to start up sometime in the first half of next year to get the movie ready on time for its July 31, 2015 release date. At this point any and all plot details are being kept under wraps (perhaps to keep some of the Avengers sequels' secrets). One thing that's interesting to note about the official announcement is that while Rudd is referred to as "Ant-Man," they never say the name of the character's alter-ego. This could mean absolutely nothing, but is it possible that Rudd could play Scott Lang or Eric O'Grady instead of Hank Pym?
Regardless of what version of Ant-Man Rudd ends up playing, his casting is likely going to be an important one for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I couldn't be more excited. Why do I think this is such a big deal? Because there is a very good chance that Rudd is being put in the position to be the central star of the comic book movie world.
At this point in time there is a clear #1 star of the Marvel Studios films: Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man. While both Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Chris Evans' Captain America definitely know how to draw a crowd, it's RDJ's presence that puts asses in the seats at the end of the day. As much as we love the charismatic billionaire playboy philanthropist, however, the truth is that our days with him are numbered. After a big money dispute earlier this year, Downey Jr. signed a contract that will see him star in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Avengers 3... but that's it. At this time there are no plans on the books for an Iron Man 4 and the character's future plot-wise is totally up in the air.
But that's where Ant-Man and Paul Rudd come in. While Iron Man and Iron Man 3 kick-started Phases One and Two respectively - the studio putting their strongest foot forward each time out - Edgar Wright's new film is set to introduce us to a whole new kind of superhero that we've never seen before. To set up future plans, that hero needs to be charismatic, engaging, and just fun plain to watch - and that fits Rudd to a T. His background his filled with comedies that made us laugh time and time again, and he has proven multiple times that he can carry a movie. He's not only the kind of actor who you like to see perform, he's an actor you like to see perform with other great actors, which Marvel will give him the chance to do in spades. It's a spotlight position Rudd is perfectly suited for, and Marvel made a smart move to grab him.
It will probably be a few months before we actually get to see what Rudd looks like in costume and in action, but my hopes are high and our fingers are crossed. I can't wait to see what they come up with.