With pre-production on Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man currently in full swing, we’re all waiting with bated breath for the announcement of just who will play the diminutive hero.
According to Variety , Wright’s whittled his casting wish list down to two people – Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd. But who’s going to nab the part?
We put JGL and Rudd in the ring to fight it out for the little role that’s guaranteed to mean big business…
Round 1: Comedy Chops
Rudd: After his big break in (ahem) Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers , Rudd cracked out the funny in high school comedy Clueless , which had him playing the ‘adorable geek’ to perfection.
Since then, he’s had us chuckling through the best of Judd Apatow’s output, most notably as Brian Fantana in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy .
Gordon-Levitt: So Rudd’s been doing comedy since 1995’s Clueless ? Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be 12 years younger, but he started tickling funny bones back in 1993 with a four-episode stint on Roseanne before landing a recurring gig on 3rd Rock From The Sun .
He’s no slouch in the big screen stakes, either, bringing a cheeky-grinned charm to 10 Things I Hate About You and 500 Days Of Summer.
The Victor: They’re pretty evenly matched on this one, though Rudd’s easy-going humour might be better suited to Ant-Man.
Round 2: Action!
Rudd: Anchorman ’s epic news team fight scene aside, Rudd’s a relative newbie when it comes to action. Halloween 6 basically had him running around like a headless chicken, and he let the weed whacker do most of the work in Reno 911: Miami.
That said, he was pretty badass wielding a sword in Role Models…
Gordon-Levitt: There was a time when JGL as an action hero would have sounded preposterous, but that time is long gone.
The 32-year-old has made some seriously canny career moves that have slowly turned him into a surprisingly muscular cinematic presence, from (ahem) G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra right through to Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and, naturally, Looper .
The Victor: With his years of cerebral action films, JGL’s more experienced in this area. Sorry Rudd.
Round 3: The Look
Rudd: If you’re looking for somebody to play an uber-smart scientist like Henry Pym aka Ant-Man, Rudd might not be the first actor you’d consider. Not that he isn’t a clever guy, but with his puppy-dog eyes and ‘perpetual college grad’ image, he doesn’t exactly scream PHD.
Still, dress him up in a lab coat and glasses and we’d probably buy it. Probably.
Gordon-Levitt: He’s already played a doctor (heck, his character in GI Joe was called The Doctor), so JGL has that in his favour.
Plus Henry Pym’s a biochemist, which involves several years of training – if JGL played him, Pym would have to be fresh out of college. Which would work with the actor’s age.
The Victor: JGL would be perfect as a newly-graduated Pym. That said, it’d be fun to see Rudd as a slightly (we said ‘slightly’) creakier professor – he certainly convinced as a teacher in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.
Round 4: The Science Bit
Rudd: It’s all well and good being cast as Ant-Man, but what if you can’t handle the science lingo? Henry Pym is, first and foremost, a biochemist, which comes with its own set of problems – for instance, the ‘science speak’ that Breaking Bad played so beautifully.
Rudd hasn’t done much of that before, but he did make his way through both Romeo + Juliet and The Cider House Rules without too much bother…
Gordon-Levitt: “We injected 1,000 cc of the nanomite solution into each subject. When they finally stopped screaming, brain scans showed a complete inactivity of the self-preservation region of the cortex.”
That’s a line JGL delivered in GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra . And he made it sound half decent, which is exactly what Ant-Man needs.
The Victor: Gordon-Levitt. He can deal with fiddly terminology, while Brick showed he could play smart AND handle cumbersome vernacular.
Round 5: Costumes
Rudd: Part and parcel of the Ant-Man role is, naturally, the superhero’s costume, and Rudd certainly seems like he’d be up for wearing the leather bodysuit and tin-can helmet – especially if his rock get-up in Role Models is anything to go by.
Gordon-Levitt: Discomfort? Who cares! JGL proved he wasn’t fussed with his appearance when he played The Doctor in GI Joe – for most of the film his face was completely concealed, and he wore an uncomfortable-looking bodysuit.
The Victor: JGL only just edges this one thanks to that unwieldy GI Joe outfit, though we can definitely see Rudd being up for the Ant-Man suit.
Round 6: Marvel & Blockbusters
Rudd: Rudd hasn’t worked with Marvel before, and in recent years he’s stuck with smaller-budget indie fare, but who’s to say that if he was offered a massive film like Ant-Man that he’d turn it down?
Gordon-Levitt: Though JGL has never worked with Marvel before, he’s definitely not against taking on a big budget project if it’s the right one.
“To me, the most important thing is the director,” he said when asked by HitFix this year if he liked making blockbusters. “The scale, whether it’s a huge blockbuster movie like TDKR or a smaller-budget movie like Hesher, what’s important to me is, what’s the movie really trying to say? And am I going to have fun and be creatively inspired doing it?”
The Victor: Gordon-Levitt isn’t afraid of blockbusters so long as they’re the RIGHT blockbusters, meaning he has the edge here.
Round 7: A For Avengers
Rudd: Just as important as his ability to play Ant-Man will be Rudd’s ability to fit in with the rest of the Avengers, should the tiny hero end up appearing in Avengers 2 and beyond.
Though he’s never knocked heads with the likes of Robert Downey Jr before (on screen at least), it’s clear Rudd’s a team player – just check out Anchorman, plus the fact that he’s worked with Russell Brand and Katherine Heigl and still come up smelling of roses.
Gordon-Levitt: JGL’s years of TV experience shows that he knows how to muck in with a large cast, and he’s held his own against A-list co-stars like Christian Bale, Bruce Willis and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Victor: It’s looking good for both of them – either way, don’t expect any diva strops.
Round 8: Oh The Drama!
Rudd: Though Edgar Wright has described Ant-Man as “funny”, you can bet there’ll be plenty of drama in there, too. While he’s better known as a comedy actor, Rudd’s also impressed in a fair few dramas.
Romeo + Juliet had him on fine (astronaut-suited) form, he made hearts melt in The Object Of My Affection , and he was even nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for The Cider House Rules.
Gordon-Levitt: When JGL wears his ‘serious face’, he wears it well. Mysterious Skin was the first time he showed just how dark he could (and was willing to) go, and stand-out turns in Brick , Hesher , Inception and even 50/50 have proven he can handle the sombre stuff.
The Victor: On the drama spectrum, Rudd’s at the lighter end, meaning he’s a more obvious choice for Ant-Man ’s comedy-drama balance. Not that JGL can’t balance the charm with the chuckles…
Round 9: Comic-Book Cred
Rudd: The closest Rudd’s come to appearing in a comic adaptation is Night At The Museum (which is based on a kid’s book). Which is another way of saying he’s not really come close at all.
It’s a lucrative market, though, so we wouldn’t be surprised if he was tempted into the fold.
Gordon-Levitt: Not only has JGL dabbled in comic fare with GI Joe and The Dark Knight Rises , he’s also got a starring role in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For , which is due out next year.
The Victor: Alright, that one was a bit unfair, but Rudd’s lack of presence in comic-book fare could actually work in his favour.
So soon after The Dark Knight Rises , Wright may feel that audiences still associate JGL with John Blake and want somebody with a fresh comic-book slate.
Round 10: The Age Issue
Rudd: There’s no point beating around the bush – Hollywood is ageist. Fact. And at 44, it’s conceivable that Rudd might be considered too old to kick off what Marvel will no doubt be hoping is a series of Ant-Man films.
That said, Robert Downey Jr was 42 when he first played Iron Man, so Rudd could be safe.
Gordon-Levitt: On the flipside, is Gordon-Levitt too young to convince as a scientist? Considering we (just about) bought Peter Parker as somebody who could create his own web-shooters and superhero costume, this could still work.
The Victor: Honestly, there is no victor here because it all depends on the route Marvel take with Mr Pym. This one’s a tie.
Round 11: That All-Important Availability
Rudd: Shooting has already wrapped on Anchorman: The Legend Continues and Amy Poehler comedy They Came Together, meaning Rudd’s schedule looks pretty clear for Ant-Man.
That is, unless Anchorman 3 suddenly gets a greenlight…
Gordon-Levitt: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is now in post-production, but with Gordon-Levitt linked to everything from Guys & Dolls to Doctor Strange , will he have time to commit to another franchise?
The Victor: Both guys are busy, but both have schedules that could be massaged to fit in Ant-Man …
Round 12: Muscle Matters
Rudd: It goes without saying that Ant-Man’s super-strong (he’s a superhero!), and the comics depict him as possibly the only seriously ripped scientist to ever exist.
Which means Rudd may have some work down the gym ahead of him. Now we’re not saying he’s in any way out of shape (see This Is 40 for evidence… a lot of evidence…), but if he wants to be able to stand next to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Black Widow at some point, he’ll need to work on that muscle mass.
Gordon-Levitt: If you’ve seen the trailers for Don Jon , you’ll know that JGL is in ridiculously good shape. Like, we-wouldn’t-want-to-get-on-his-bad-side good shape. With that ridiculously sculpted physique, his Ant-Man costume wouldn’t need any padding whatsoever...
The Victor: Alright, so Gordon-Levitt’s got the six-pack, but that doesn’t mean Rudd can’t get one, too.
Just look at Chris Pratt ( Guardians Of The Galaxy ), who shed 50lb in a single week by giving up beer, and then hit the gym HARD to sculpt himself into an intergalactic hero. Rudd’s probably texting him for tips as we speak...
This was anything but a fair fight. With their different skill-sets and experiences in the fickle field of acting, it’s like shoving an elephant in the ring with a camel. Or something.
One thing’s clear: both these guys would be fascinating as Ant-Man. JGL has charisma by the bucket-load, the physicality, and he knows how to handle that tricky scientific dialogue – plus he’s got form in the comic-book arena.
Rudd, though, would excel in exploring Pym’s softer side while making for a really unconventional hero. We’re thinking Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man here – a left-field casting choice back in 2008, but one that’s set the mould for future Marvel casting decisions.
Rudd or Gordon-Levitt? What do you think? Tell us below…