In a recent interview with Comic Book Resources, Bobby Cannavale talked about his experience working on the first of the Phase 3 Marvel films. After the usual spiel about how working with blue/green screen is a pain in the ass, he said some stuff that is actually worth chewing over:
“But, 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. [Director] 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.”
Before Guardians of the Galaxy, I would have thought that Ant-Man was going to be the first real Marvel comedy. The movies have always had a good streak of humor running through them, but the idea of a superhero film more focused on funny rather than anything else felt fresh.
…Then, Guardians of the Galaxy came out and did a hell of a job at scratching that itch. On top of that, the first teaser for Ant-Man was steeped in the usual superhero seriousness. There were tidbits of laughworthy material, but the tone was very Sturm und Drang-y. Hearing that there was an improv attitude on set for most of the time goes a long way in assuaging some of my original beliefs about this film.
It will always be impossible to talk about Ant-Man without bringing up Edgar Wright’s departure from the project, and while I’ll always be miffed about that scenario, I’m not going to hold that against the film we eventually get. I have to believe that Wright’s distinct directorial style clashed too hard with the uniform feeling Marvel is trying to keep with their films. For good or ill, we’re never going to see something as surreal as Ang Lee’s Hulk or as outright cartoonish as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films ever coming from the company again. That might be the price we pay for such a grand and successful cinematic experiment.
Ant-Man has a lot going for it in my book. I like the return to a lower stakes story, the bizarre nature of the character’s powers, the cast involved, and the potential for a Marvel heist film. And if what Cannavale says does ring true in the finished film, we may also have a pretty funny movie on top of all of that. We’ll find out on July 17th (by which time I will most likely be thoroughly burnt out on my multiple rewatches of Mad Max: Fury Road).