The long-rumored crowning of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man is finally happening. He is Marvel‘s choice to star as the title character in the Edgar Wright-directed film. Rudd has proven himself adept at light drama and he is exceptionally good at comedy, but I never really thought of him as superhero material. Wright, who wrote the Ant-Man script with Joe Cornish, showed at Comic-Con two years ago a demonstration of the technology developed that displayed a speck-sized Ant-Man running down the barrel of a gun and then re-emerging in actual size to put a hurting on a bad guy. It was pretty cool stuff, but Wright put the whole thing down to make The World’s End first. He did that mainly because the film’s producer, Working Title’s Eric Fellner, was diagnosed with cancer. Wright — who felt that Shaun Of The Dead — the first leg of what would become the Cornetto trilogy wouldn’t have gotten made if it wasn’t for Fellner — never would have forgiven himself if he didn’t make the third film in the series quickly, just in case the producer’s condition worsened. Marvel relented, and Kevin Feige agreed to wait. Fellner got his movie and, more important, a clean bill of health.
Now, it’s Ant-Man‘s turn. Marvel chased Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who wasn’t as interested in this as Warner Bros’ Sandman, which he is eyeing to direct as well as star in and produce. Rudd was the other long-rumored choice. This will be a big test for Rudd; Marvel’s superhero successes so far have been well-established outsized heroes that audiences grew up with. Guardians of the Galaxy will be the first real test for Feige’s hit machine to launch a new franchise, and then Ant-Man will be under the microscope even more because it is not an ensemble. Marvel has a way of bolstering its movies with all those heroes who signed nine-picture option deals, but this will be an interesting one to watch. I’m just not sure that a size-changing hero is that interesting, and I’m not sold on Rudd as an action star. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong. Marvel certainly has made a lot of right calls on superhero casting, from Robert Downey Jr to Mark Ruffalo, who made a splendid Hulk in The Avengers.