Marvel has made its name in film and TV by finding the line between taking chances and playing it safe. The company has shown supreme confidence in its material, from the first "Iron Man" with a Robert Downey Jr. who wasn't a bankable star at the time, to proving that the relatively unknown characters of "Guardians of the Galaxy" could become household names.
"Ant-Man" seems to be one of its biggest risks yet. Marvel was insistent enough on its vision of the film that original writer/director Edgar Wright walked off the project after he refused to make certain changes to his script. Response to the first trailer was muted, with fans feeling ambivalent about where the franchise was going.
Now the new trailer is out, and the reaction has been positive all around.
The new "Ant-Man" trailer strikes the combination action/comedy mix that Marvel movies have been known for, course-correcting from the more dramatic take seen in the first trailer. Meaningful looks between father and daughter have been replaced with a clearer explanation of the plot, character backstory, action sequences and comedy. The highlights include Ant-Man running around with ants, leaping out of the way of a bullet at miniature size, and the reveal of the film's antagonist. You also get several strong jokes, including what happens when Ant-Man's villain, shrunk down, runs up against a Thomas The Tank Engine train set.
Original team Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have a "story by" credit on this movie, but comedy guru Adam McKay (the writer and director of movies such as "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights") and star Rudd himself are credited with the new script. New director Peyton Reed also has some serious comedy chops — he worked on cult TV shows "Mr. Show" and "Upright Citizens Brigade," and he made a big splash with his first feature that is basically the "Citizen Kane" of comedy cheerleader movies, "Bring It On."
For fans looking for signs of what's coming next in the Marvel movies: In the new "Avengers" movie, Ultron gets created by Tony Stark — in the comic books, he was created by Hank Pym, who is played by Michael Douglas and creates the Ant-Man suit in the new film. "Ant-Man" could reveal a deeper connection between Pym, Ant-Man and the greater Marvel cinematic universe, even though it differs from its comic book origins. And one more thing: in the comics, Hank Pym hasn't always been a good dude, so he's one to watch to see if they flip him to be darker than he initially appears.
One other intriguing note — at a press event over the weekend, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige explained where "Ant-Man" fits into the overall plans. While it's coming out after "Age of Ultron," it's actually considered part of Marvel's "Phase 2" movies. Feige told Slashfilm:
"It’s not [an afterthought]. The truth is the phases mean a lot to me and some people but…Civil War is the start of Phase Three. It just is. And Ant-Man is a different kind of culmination of Phase Two because it very much is in the MCU.
"You meet new characters and you learn about Hank Pym and his lineage with the MCU over the years. But at the same time, it also picks up the thread of 'Age of Ultron' in terms of heroes — major heroes, Avengers — coming from unexpected places. Whether it’s prison in the case of Scott Lang or being [the] very disgruntled Sokovian Twins as Wanda and Pietro are in Age of Ultron. And in that way it connects a lot.
"Also, Hank Pym’s attitude towards Avengers, towards S.H.I.E.L.D, and kind of the cinematic universe in general, is much more informed after the events of 'Age of Ultron,' and in a certain way, before the events of 'Civil War.'"
"Ant-Man" is unlikely to come near the box office of "Avengers: Age of Ultron," which hits theaters May 1, but it's got enough to make it seem like a box office summer of Marvel might not be out of reach. (If you want to get more of a peek at the "Age of Ultron," the cast of that film will be on Monday night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."You can also check out Vox's explainer video (below), wringing as much detail out of the "Age of Ultron" trailer as possible, as well as the full Iron Man/Hulk fight scene from Sunday night's MTV Movie Awards.)