Marvel finally released the full teaser trailer for Ant-Man during the premiere of the surprisingly excellent Agent Carter. To say that Ant-Man has had trouble making the leap from the page to the screen is a gross understatement. Marvel announced it at Comic-Con ages ago, before the first Iron Man had even come out. They signed Edgar Wright to write and direct and all us nerds cried ‘hurray!’ Then he left the project and we all went, ‘oh shit.’ For peripheral comic book fans like me, Wright was the only thing that was gonna get me in the theater. When he left, my entire faith in the project disappeared. I think it’s fair to say that Ant-Man is not the greatest character in the world and that newly hired director Peyton Reed is not the greatest filmmaker. But still there may be hope. I’ve talked with Mike about the movie many times and he has faith in it. He’s much more knowledgeable when it comes to the comics and trusts Marvel to do the right thing. They’ve really only let us down once with the disastrous Iron Man 2. Everything else they’ve made has been decent to great. So perhaps Ant-Man will work. After viewing the trailer, Mike and I decided to sit down and talk about it, feeling that our different perspectives might be more interesting to read than just one guy’s opinion. Also, we’re both big nerds who think it’s perfectly acceptable to pass judgement on a movie based on less than two minutes of footage. Hell, everybody does that these days right? Anyway, check out the trailer and read our transcribed discussion afterwards. If you’re on the fence, maybe we can sway you to one side or the other. Probably not though, cuz we don’t seem to know what side of the fence we’re on yet either!
GRAVES: Ok. My initial impression is that I was underwhelmed. Wasn’t bad at all. Just didn’t wow me.
MIKE: I wanted more. It felt way too serious until Scott Lang’s “change the name” line. It gave me hope that they realize it should be a bit goofy, but I still need more. I think that Marvel may have pulled a punch though. Because Scott Lang’s reaction to Ant-Man is essentially everyone’s reaction: “Huh?”
GRAVES: I LOVED that reaction, even though it was probably taken out of context. I liked it more than the “can we change the name” line. Acknowledging that Ant-Man is sort of a dumb character is not going to be enough to make it a good movie. It’s not a get out of jail free card.
MIKE: Agreed. But if they’re going with the notion that it’s supposed to be just a bit silly, then we’re ok. Paul Rudd seems a little goofy, or actually absent-minded/dumb.
GRAVES: Think he’s a very solid choice. Like Michael Douglas too. But I can’t help thinking, “what would Edgar have done?” That question will forever hang over this movie.
MIKE: Absolutely. I think some of what Edgar did will be preserved though. He’s still credited for story. Sadly his directive flair won’t be there.
GRAVES: They’ve promised they’re basing the movie off his ideas but they could just be blowing smoke up our collective asses. A look at Peyton Reed’s filmography is not encouraging. When the highlight of your film career is Bring it On, I get worried.
MIKE: He has had some experience with comedy shows like UCB and Mr. Show.
GRAVES: Didn’t know that. That’s slightly more encouraging.
MIKE: Truth. Adam McKay (who co-wrote the screenplay) has had a successful run as a writer. If anyone knows how to write for Rudd, it’s him. I’m not the biggest Will Ferrel supporter but people love the shit out of those movies.
GRAVES: McKay’s involvement does give me hope. If the script is good enough, all Reed has to do is shoot it competently.
MIKE: ANd I think that’s what Marvel wants: just someone to shoot the movie and not try to do too much. Like I think if Edgar had stuck it out and powered through it, he would have been given more freedom eventually.
GRAVES: Yeah, the impression I get is that he left cuz he didn’t want to tie it to the rest of the Marvel Universe, which I can understand. But at the same time, I like the shared universe so I get Marvel’s perspective too.
MIKE: Totally. He had his idea for the movie before the shared universe existed. It’s a shame.
GRAVES: Anyway, there were some things in the trailer that kicked ass. A+ to riding on a termite. A fucking plus.
MIKE: Yeah! And that’s my ultimate retort to, “it’s too serious.” Guy rides a termite.
GRAVES: Yep! Trailer could have just been that and I would have been like, “ok I’m in.”
MIKE: Suit looks great too. By the way, we’re idiots. It’s an ant, not a termite. Which sucks…because riding on a termite sounds cooler.
GRAVES: Oh goddamnit! Fuck it! I’m out then.
MIKE: Yeah, I quit.
GRAVES: We are idiots. It is called Ant-Man after all. Termite Man would be cooler too though.
MIKE: Like would he eat wood?
GRAVES: That would be hilarious. Paul Rudd chewing through walls. I’d watch.
MIKE: Like chewing the scenery…which is probably what Michael Douglas will do.
GRAVES: I’m fine with that! Intrigued to see more of Corey Stoll as Yellow-jacket. That concept art looked pretty great.
Editors note: And here it is
MIKE: It did. Like an evil Ant-Man. I wonder if Yellow-jacket will grow.
GRAVES: I know very little about the character. Tell me about him.
MIKE: Well, he’s typically another Hank Pym persona. In the comics, he has a personality disorder that created the more brutal and more aggressive Yellow-jacket. But there was also an evil female Yellow-jacket who had similar powers.
GRAVES: Okay…wow. So the Corey Stoll character is created for the film only?
MIKE: No. Darren Cross is a rival businessman in the comics. Scott Lang wanted him to cure his dying daughter, through some doctor.
GRAVES: Gotcha. Jesus I don’t know how you keep all this information straight in your head. Comics can be so convoluted.
MIKE: Yeah, it’s weird. I have a decent memory.
GRAVES: That you do sir. My other concern with the flick is that it’s going to be a bland affair: not as serious as Winter Solider but not as whacky as Guardians.
MIKE: Well, whacky may not be what Ant-Man needs. It definitely shouldn’t be Winter Solider serious. It needs to be more silver age, goofy with just a slight bit of heart.
GRAVES: Did you get that tone from the trailer though? Cuz I’m not sure I got any consistent tone at all.
MIKE. There was no consistency. But, it felt like ‘big hero monolgoue’ and then a hero who doesn’t really fit the bill. I’ve watched the trailer a bunch of times. I can totally see Pym as a crazy old man. He clearly works out of a bunker so I’m guessing he’s not all there.
GRAVES: That would be a fun element. So there is potential here. I hate to bring it back to my earlier point but if Edgar Wright was behind the camera, I’d have no concerns at all.
MIKE: Understandable. All of everyone’s concerns are with direction. Edgar Wright with Adam McKay and this cast would be unreal.
GRAVES: I’d be foaming at the mouth.
MIKE: Hopefully we get a reverse of Amazing Spiderman 2 in a lot of ways but still keep the great cast and performances.
GRAVES: So I think cautious optimism is the way to go with this one.
MIKE: I’ll take that. We really need to see more.
GRAVES: Of course. I will say I’m enjoying the ‘tiny’ marketing campaign. It’s a cheap gag but a damn funny one.
MIKE: You mean the ant sized teaser and mini poster? I think it’s great. Another hint that Marvel knows Ant-Man is a little silly.
GRAVES: I love the idea of people seeing that poster in a multiplex and being like, “what?”
MIKE: And then going, “oh he’s like an ant.” Pause. “Still not seeing this crap.” My dad said, “Who or what the hell is Ant-Man?” Then Ant-Man boarded a flying ant…
GRAVES: And he was sold?
MIKE: No. But I was! My dad was confused why anyone would ride an ant. To him, ants are a nuisance, which is what this movie should be if it’s done right. Scott Lang and Hank Pym should be annoying. My final word is this: you need to sift through the trailer to get all of the good bits. There is some of what ‘Ant-Man should be’ in there. You just need a magnifying glass. But don’t burn the poor ants.