Michael Douglas is Hank Pym. Weird right?
The casting of the A-List Hollywood star in Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man of all things is super left-field. But, coming from Marvel, should we really be that surprised? This is the studio that cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark when no one would touch him, and is putting the Guardians of the Galaxy on the big screen before other, safer bets like Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and second Hulk film. But even with a history of making outside the box decisions, Douglas was quite the shock, especially when we all assumed that Paul Rudd was playing Pym.
As many comic fans know, Hank Pym’s nowhere close to the age that Michael Douglas is. If anything, he’s maybe ten years older than Scott Lang, the man who will now be played by Paul Rudd . If I were to guess, I’d say that Marvel will tease Douglas as a partner with Howard Stark back in the 60’s and 70’s, possibly creating the early artificial intelligence system that would eventually become Ultron and shutting it down when he realizes how dangerous it could be. It wouldn’t be that hard to imagine Tony Stark finding Pym’s notes or early Ultron experiments and working on them, thinking he can make it better, accidentally creating (or awakening) Ultron. Hell, they might even put him in Avengers: Age of Ultron as a consultant for S.H.I.E.L.D. when the villain arrives.
Marvel’s also looking at the franchising potential of Ant-Man. It’s a long shot, but if the Edgar Wright directed film turns into a big hit, you could see a potential prequel with a younger actor playing Pym, possibly set in a 60’s or 70’s MCU. After watching the Peggy Carter one-shot on the Iron Man 3 blu ray, I’d be down for more period pieces from Marvel, and it would satisfy the desire for Marvel diehards to see Hank Pym as Ant-Man. Ant-Man’s one of the few Marvel characters that already has different identities already established. If they play their cards right, Marvel could have 3 different Ant-Man franchises going: a period series with Hank Pym, a modern series with Scott Lang, and one set in the near future with Eric O’Grady.
Looking back on the long history of Ant-Man, it was always intended to be a “heist” film.Wright has said since he was first attached to the project back in 2006 that the film would have both Hank Pym and Scott Lang, and would focus on Lang stealing the Ant-Man designs. Now that this news is out there, we are finally starting to get some grasp on what this film will be about.
As a fan of Wright’s work, I’m confident in his ability to pull this off, but will people actually show up for a movie based on superhero who can shrink and talk to ants? Casting Douglas adds a major box office draw, and shows that Marvel isn’t messing around anymore. They’re casting roles with major actors, and presumably aren’t afraid to spend the cash to get an established name (and with the rumors of Johnny Depp meeting with them to discuss Doctor Strange, it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon). Adding Douglas to Ant-Man opens up an entirely new demographic that the studio can benefit from, as well as a curiosity factor from people who had no interest in the film before now.