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Marvel has never shied away from using humor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. However, when they cast Paul Rudd in the lead for Ant-Man along with original director Edgar Wright, and then replacement director Peyton Reed, it was obvious that Marvel was looking for a more comedic tone than we had seen in previous movies. This becomes even clearer when you look at the newest Ant-Man ad spot, which focuses nearly entirely on the laughs.
While we’ve seen some of the jokes before, like Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang being punched in the face by Evangeline Lilly, which literally never gets old, several of the others have not been seen in the primary trailers. We now have a scene of Ant-Man successfully leaping through a keyhole only to crash into a wall on the other side of the door, and scaring the hell out of a friend by sitting on his shoulder. We know from previous trailers that the film is going to have its share of action as well but it appears they want to be sure that viewers also know that this movie is going to have its share of slapstick humor. While humor is not new to Marvel, this sort of physical comedy certainly is.
Humor is a double edged sword that Marvel, thus far, has been able to wield with the precision of a scalpel. Because so many of these characters were created decades ago for comic books, a modern eye can often view them as corny. Ant-Man, runs the greatest risk of any MCU film so far of being discounted based on the ridiculous name alone, something they have dealt with other trailers. They have obviously chosen to embrace the silliness of the premise to some degree. This strategy can work, to some extent all of the Marvel films have accepted their inherent impossibility, but it can also create disasters like the Joel Schumacher Batman movies or the original Fantastic Four. DC appears to be so afraid of this they have apparently placed a moratorium on jokes for all their current film projects. Marvel however has been able to walk the tightrope up until today.
We know that Ant-Man is going to play an important, and ongoing, part within the MCU so we expect the overall tone of the film will remain in line with all the other movies, more or less. At the same time, with Robert Downey Jr., and Tony Stark’s ever present sarcasm, likely on their way out of the film series sooner rather than later, we’ll need somebody with a sense of humor to take that place, and maybe Paul Rudd is that guy. We’ll know the answer July 17 when Ant-Man hits theaters.