Who's Our Man in the Ant Hill?1 of 12
So it's finally happening. Marvel has slated their Ant-Man film, the first entry in their so-called third wave of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for release in July 2015, up from its original November release date. While Ant-Man may seem like a strange choice for a lead character, with Edgar Wright at the helm, and some brief, but compelling test footage making the rounds, it could be a surprise blockbuster.
After all, Iron Man was decidedly a Marvel B-lister (heck, arguably C) before Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr.’s surprise hit.
Of course, like RDJ’s casting the success of Ant-Man will have much to with who’s under the iconic(ish) helmet. One of the most interesting aspects of Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and the one appearing in the film, is that despite his semi-classic status, he's a bit of blank slate to the public-at-large (Something Wright loves about the character). He could be anything from a young prodigy in over his head, to a weary scientist forced to become something more.
ANTON YELCHIN2 of 12Young and impressionable, Anton Yelchin's wide-eyed Pym would add some much needed youth to the Avengers universe. Sure, he's tied down as Ensign Chekov in the Star Trek films for the foreseeable future, but his role in those is relatively minor, leaving plenty of room for a franchise of his own. He'd be a perfect choice for a Hank Pym who looks before he leaps, his vast intellect played against lack of worldliness.
JESSE EISENBERG3 of 12Jesse Eisenberg is known for his portrayals of aloof, almost insensitive brainy types. Sounds pretty spot on for some takes on Hank Pym, but maybe a little close to RDJ's sardonic and guarded Tony Stark. Still, as the third leg between the sarcastic Stark and Mark Ruffalo's affable Bruce Banner, an almost humorless but brilliant Hank Pym could add some real dimension to the Avengers' AV Club.
In fact, he already showed a similar instant repartee with Ruffalo in 2013's "Now You See Me."
RYAN GOSLING4 of 12Maybe he's a little too suave, or a little too beautiful (but he’s blond), but Ryan Gosling is often possessed of a strange intensity that could lend itself to a concept as off the wall as Ant-Man. While Hank Pym isn't exactly a lady's man, he did manage to intrigue Janet Van Dyne enough to join him on his adventures. Gosling's offbeat charisma could suit the idea of a scientist finding new purpose as a hero nicely.
SIMON PEGG5 of 12With Edgar Wright at Ant-Man's helm, even Simon Pegg, the director's longtime collaborator, has floated himself as a possible choice for Pym. He's a little older than some of the actors on this list, but he's certainly found a home among a dedicated group of fans as the only real choice for Wright's take on Pym. Pegg could certainly fill a niche as the Avengers' comic relief, and there's a lot of potential imagining his Pym alongside the recently resurrected Agent Colson.
RICHARD AYOADE6 of 12Richard Ayoade has certainly shown his range for good natured comedy, and he's got fan cred out the wazoo. As a put upon, bookish scientist, forced to come out of his shell when he makes an incredible discovery, Ayoade could take a real star turn as Pym, offering too many new wrinkles to the Marvel cinematic universe to count. He may not fit the mold of an action hero, but then again, Ant-Man is hardly the typical hero himself.
JOSHUA JACKSON7 of 12Having played a troubled but gifted scientist for years on Fringe, Joshua Jackson seems like a no-brainer for a role like Hank Pym, portraying him as an innovator and a survivor. Jackson is at home with roles that require wholesale believability in far out concepts and comic book science, and his balance of intensity and humor would fit right in alongside the aesthetic and attitude of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
GREG KINNEAR8 of 12OK, so based on the rest of this list, this one's a little out of left field, but despite the obvious age gap, Greg Kinnear offers a wealth of potential as Hank Pym. Imagine him as a failed scientist, someone as gifted as Tony Stark, but who never hit on a truly brilliant invention, until discovering Pym particles. Now imagine Greg Kinnear as that world-weary scientist, forced into a world he never imagined, friendly but guarded, sarcastic but likable, with no time for Bruce Banner's self doubt, or Tony Stark's snarky attitude. It's almost a no-brainer, not to mention Greg Kinnear is pretty much Pym's real world doppelganger.
There's still the potential to bring in one of the younger people on this list as one of the other Ant-Mans (Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady have also carried the mantle) in the future, as well.
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS9 of 12While making this list, several actors almost got this spot. Paul Dano came a hair's breadth from getting the nod, but when it comes down to it, few actors have the physical chops, let alone that perfect balance of humor and drama that could really sell Hank Pym to skeptical fans. Enter Neil Patrick Harris, already one of Joss Whedon's muses (for an eventual Avengers turn), and a gifted actor and physical performer. It doesn't hurt that he's a favorite among fans, or that he'd provide a terrific visual counterpoint to the stock Banner and dark featured Stark.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT10 of 12So, you may be thinking we kinda like this guy or something, since we also named Joseph Gordon-Levitt as our pick for Matt Murdock/Daredevil a little while back, but there's a reason his name keeps popping up. Gordon-Levitt is a gifted actor with a brilliant range, and an aptitude for physicality that practically make it a crime for him not have a franchise under his belt. As for taking on the role of Hank Pym, JGL is a spot on choice to wield the kind of emotional baggage that comes with the character, while still presenting a face of good-natured wit and endurance. His box office cred, both domestic and overseas (recently named by The Hollywood Reporter as a star with surprising foreign clout) wouldn't hurt a bit either, especially for something as off beat as Ant-Man.
JAMES FRANCO11 of 12
James Franco is the kind of actor who, when put in the right role, can truly embody and sell even the most ridiculous concepts. As Hank Pym, Franco could channel some of his well-touted weirdness, leaning into the oddball nature of a superhero who can shrink and speak to ants. True, he had a turn as Harry Osborn with rapidly diminishing returns, but in a starring role, in his own vehicle, Franco could truly shine.
Also, it's about time Franco took on a central role in a franchise, and he's usually at his best alongside other acting powerhouses such as Robert Downey, Jr., who also find ways to dig into the core of a character, finding their eccentricities, and turning them into strengths.
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