One of the many names by which Marvel has gone by in years past is “the House of Ideas.” It’s incredibly apt. Since embarking upon their cinematic universe, Marvel has shown that they are overflowing with premise after premise that strikes unique chords and resonate with audiences across ages, genders, and just about every demographic you can think of. Guardians of the Galaxy, by most reckonings on a conceptual level, should not have worked as well as it did. And yet, people bounce around the streets, dancing to music, and chanting “OOGA CHAKA” at the drop of a space-hat. Marvel’s ideas work.
So why does Ant-Man feel like an even more audacious prospect than Guardians did?
Before the trailer dropped earlier this week, I was looking at Ant-Man with a bit of skepticism. Granted, I don’t know a great deal about the character, save that Henry Pym has had a plethora of personal problems and many, many identities. The redemption arc for Scott Lang is a road well-traveled, but the new trailer addresses that by keying into an Iron Man-like mentality of both humor and addressing a character changing without necessarily altering their nature.
Scott: My days of breaking into places and stealing stuff are over. So what do you need me to do?
Hank: I need you to break into a place and steal some stuff.
Scott: … Makes sense.
Marvel’s films, at their most successful, strike a very particular balance between humor, action, world-building, and character development. Looking at Ant-Man, it was difficult to see all of those elements in play at first. Now that the trailer covers all of those touchpoints, the project feels a lot more solid, but no less audacious.
Going back to the Guardians of the Galaxy comparison, Ant-Man is a relatively unknown character from Marvel’s pantheon. We also have Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel coming. But a sorcerer and an Air Force pilot given super-powers that are on par with DC’s Superman is a bit easier for new audience members to internalize than a guy whose power is shrinking to insect-size and talking to other insects. Putting that character into a major motion picture with all of the monetary and marketing support of Marvel Studios requires supreme confidence and a very well-organized plan, in which Ant-Man plays a part.
Marvel is not the sort of studio that is willing to rest on its laurels with derivative sequels and other means of generating cash. New characters, new directions of story, and long-range plans aimed to both build an expansive universe and please their fans. I don’t know what part Ant-Man has to play within this plan, but Marvel is sticking to it, and despite the scale to which this new hero tends to shrink, my guess is that his part will be anything but small. It’s an audacious plan, an ambitious plan, and if anybody can pull it off, it’s the House of Ideas.
Until the day Coulson becomes a Black Lantern, Make Mine Marvel!