ANT-MAN Could Be The Most Improv-Heavy Marvel Movie Yet
There was a lot of panic when Edgar Wright left Ant-Man. I mean, from me. I don't know about the rest of you, but I was all like 'Holy shit, Marvel done goofed, this is it, it's all over.' I wasn't sure how the studio could possibly make the film worth seeing after things fell apart with Wright. In fact I wasn't even sure why the hell they were bothering to make Ant-Man anymore, what with the character not being much of a major player and with the film itself having been Wright's baby for most of a decade.
And then they hired Adam McKay to work on the script. And he worked with Paul Rudd. And then they hired Peyton Reed to direct. For a lot of people Reed is 'the Yes Man director,' but for me Reed is the guy who directed Bring It On as well as episodes of Mr. Show. Upright Citizens Brigade and the short-lived The Weird Al Show. Basically Reed is a guy whose comedy bona fides are bona fide, even if a lot of moviegoers weren't aware of them.
I still think that Marvel made a big mistake in how they dealt with Wright, but at the same time I'm hopeful that they've made some decisions that will save the movie. An interview with Bobby Cannavale, who co-stars in the film, makes me even more hopeful. Talking to Comic Book Resorces, Cannavale said:
The actual work, the scenes with me and Paul Rudd, and Judy Greer and Michael Pena, felt like an indie film. It felt like fun. Peyton Reed [and the studio], they weren't mercurial about the script. They weren't mercurial about the humor, at all. They let us be in charge of that. We improvised a lot. Judy Greer's very funny. Paul's very funny, he's a great improviser.
The rewrite of the script that Paul did with McKay, and I've worked with McKay before, lent itself to that. You could see that there's a funny scene and we could actually riff off of that, and that felt impressive to me in this big huge blockbuster film. It made me feel kind of good, that it felt like Marvel was going for something different. It didn't feel like Thor. It felt more like Guardians of the Galaxy, which I really enjoyed and I thought brought a certain levity to a superhero movie that I had never seen before.
That all comes after he kind of complains about blue screen work, but that's the nature of blockbuster FX movies.
What Cannavale has to say is really encouraging - the idea of a Marvel movie that is super loose and has the spontaneous improv feel that we get from the best Adam McKay movies is awesome. Not that there isn't improv in other Marvel films, but I think Reed is going to be a director who really understands how to let the actors be loose. What's more, I've been hearing that the movie evolved (especially in reshoots) to come back to a place closer to where Wright had it, with Scott Lang as more of a crook when the film opens. I think that pre-Guardians Marvel was freaking out about the roguishness of the character. Post-Guardians it's clear that the lead being a rogue does not hurt these movies.
It's going to be quiet-ish on Ant-Man until Avengers: Age of Ultron stops hogging the spotlight, but today I am feeling much better about the film than I was in May or June of 2014. Hopefully the next trailer is a step up and showcases some of this improv and starts to give people a sense of what the movie actually is.