Well, I’m befuddled. A little over a year ago, the world got official word that Hollywood’s ubiquitous nice guy Paul Rudd would be playing the lead in the still upcoming film Ant-Man. The news whet our imaginations, prompting daydreams of cheerful call-to-arms speeches and good-tempered shrugs following villainous attempts on his life. But now that we’ve finally caught the first trailer for Ant-Man, we can profess no such good fortune. The Rudd we see in this trailer isn’t the grinning good guy, the chummy shlub, the even keeled if not a tad easily ruffled working stiff who’s doing it all for his little lady. This Rudd — if you can even call this a Rudd — is kind of a downer.
His presence in the two-minute trailer is laden with expressions of gravity, of determination, of (dare I say) moodiness. Not once does Rudd bobble his head amicably or smirk through a well-mannered jab. Never does he pare through his ostensibly inconsolable differences with a “loose cannon” female lead by way of genteel banter. No, none of that. Instead, we see grousing, grimacing, even the threat of violence. Who are you, Paul Rudd? What have they done to you over at Marvel?
Don’t believe the hype? Take a look:
See? That's Rudd, right there at the trailer's :34 mark. Notice any signs of bridled jubilation? Of workplace-appropriate effervescence? No. What we have instead is bona fide glowering; a man entrenched in haunting thought. Hardly the kind of fourth wall-adjacent Rudd staring to which we're accustomed:
Ah, that's better. Moving on...
We have a Rudd on the apparent receiving end of some dire revelation, facing down an unknown beacon of great dread. What could you be looking at that arouses such distress, Paul? Why don't you look at something else?
There ya go! Look at him. Lookin' at his wife. Smilin' at her. That's nice. They're doing okay. Let's keep going.
Gee whiz! What is he, some kind of criminal? What sort of foul play has this doe-eyed shmoe undertaken in lieu of a nice desk job? One heavy with SFW email chains and reasonable insurance options?
Phew, that's a relief. Next:
Okay. I can buy Rudd as a doting father. But one who looms ominously? One whose time spent with his beloved kinderlacht is draped in such severity? No, that ain't the daddy-daughter time that best suits Rudd...
That's what I'm talkin' about! What ever happened to good old fashioned loafing? Ha, that bedspread is charmingly askew! I bet they use it to build a fort. Okay, let's trudge on...
What the hell, man? Is that a facial bruise? Were you in some kind of kerfuffle? Don't you remember the old motto?
Yes, that's right. Peace. Peace. Ugh, here comes a double-whammy...
Glum Rudd from the left...
...and glum Rudd from the right. We'll need an extra dose of Ruddly cheer to make up for this two-front blitzkrieg.
That oughta do it. But alas...
Nursing his own battle wounds, contemplating the dire fates that might befall his entry into battle. Is this the price we must pay for a shirtless Paul Rudd?
Muuuch better. But the relief is fleeting at best, as one final offender comes our way:
One big, piercing, solemn, inexplicable Ruddface. Perhaps, in its simplicity, the worst of the lot. The most undeniable piece of evidence that at his very core, in his very molecules, the Rudd we're seeing in Ant-Man is not the one we've come to know, to love. This is a Rudd without glee, without glimmer. This is a sad, sad man. This is our Rudd now.
There we go! A wry elliptical smirk right here in the Ant-Man trailer, and one followed by the video's first comedic beat! Maybe this Rudd won't be so bad after all.
Let's hope for the best and call it a win, folks!
Have a Rudderful day.
Images: Disney (11); Focus Features; Universal Pictures (3); DreamWorks Pictures (2); The Weinstein Company/Walkmark Films; Lionsgate