Casting Friday: Ant-Man News, Hunham out of Shades, Larson in Gambler

Each Friday, I will summarize the important casting news or rumors from the preceding week, giving you a preview of who’ll be playing who in the future!

JGL & Rudd as Ant-Man

Variety reported this week that the hotly anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 film Ant-Man is close to being cast: the role now evidently comes down to either Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Paul Rudd.

According to the Variety article that broke the story, the two actors are set to meet with Marvel execs before a final decision is made.

The two actors are 12 years apart in age. Levitt already has experience in comic adaptations, appearing in last year’s Dark Knight Rises, as well as next year’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.  The film would, however, be a departure for Paul Rudd, whose career has so far been marked mostly by comedy.

The film is set to be the first of the Phase 3 films, to follow Avengers 2: Age of Ultron on July 31st, 2015. Edgar Wright is directing the film, co-written with Joe Cornish, whose directorial debut Attack the Block made waves in 2011.

Rashida Jones as the Wasp

This is not the last of the Ant-Man news to surface this week, however: according to Superhero Movie News, casting is underway for the titular hero’s wife and super hero Janet van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp. According to the site’s source, she will not appear in her superhero identity, but will play the love interest.

Currently, the rumor is that Rashida Jones, best known for her role in Parks & Recreation. Her co-star Chriss Pratt is already appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy as Peter Quill, Star Lord.

She is reportedly being chosen due to her chemistry with Paul Rudd, who may play Hank Pym, Ant-Man himself. The two appeared together in Our Idiot Brother and I Love You Man.

While the Wasp will reportedly not perform any superheroics herself in the film, she reportedly is planned to do so in later films (likely Avengers 3).

The Wasp has already been seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the recently released initial animatics for the first Avengers, a still from which can be seen below:

Hunham Out of Shades

Charlie Hunham is evidently no longer interested in becoming the universe’s most desirable male, as he has left the lead  in Fifty Shades of Grey which was all but certain guarantee of that.

While there is no hard fact on the reason for this move, the rumor is that he was refused “extensive creative input”, which he was seeking in the form of script approval. Other speculation involves him not being popular with the franchise’s fans (a petition to remove him from the project received over 88 thousand signatures as of now). The official reason is that his television commitment to Sons of Anarchy  was simply too demanding, but logic dictates that he would have been aware of those well before initially agreeing to star in the picture.

Brie Larson in Gambler

Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, 21 Jump Street) is set to appear alongside Mark Wahlberg in the upcoming The Gambler, a remake of the 1974 James Caan original.

The remake is currently rumored to be directed by Rupert Wyatt, who previously did the fantastically engaging Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Looper

A word of warning for would-be cinema-goers: here, there be monsters. I’m not talking about clinched Hollywood CGI monsters (though Looper contains plenty of innovative special effects). I mean human monsters, casually and unfeelingly taking the lives of others. This palpable atmosphere of violence permeates the entire film, the populace of Kansas City in year 2044 having grown harsher, more callous. Those beneath a certain social/economic stratum are disregarded entirely. The average citizen (or perhaps merely those characters we happen to encounter during the film’s 118 minute runtime) seems to be entirely unconcerned with the concept of, for example, hitting somebody with a car, or shooting a vagrant that wanders into their property. Granted, the context of the movie is that of brutal mafia-bosses and their hired assassins, but the openness with which they operate is beyond shocking. It occurs to me now that Looper appears to have a complete lack of police presence of any sort, which may explain the rest of the backdrop.

Putting the ugly vibe aside, Looper is completely thrilling, and certainly swings for the fences consistently, not satisfied with coasting on an interesting premise as Bruce Willis’ 2009 disappointment of a movie Surrogates did. Then again, neither is he the focus of the movie; Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character completely and utterly in charge of every scene, channeling perfectly the swagger of young Bruce Willis. His own performance is considerably more tempered – with some reason, considering he plays a hitman in retirement. Both actors, of course, play Joe, a Looper, whose job is executing people sent to be disposed of from the future. When the future iteration of the crime organization Joe works for begins sending back the older versions of the loopers themselves to be disposed of, the young Joe becomes concerned. His fears are realized, when arriving at the location of his next murder, he is confronted with his older self. His moment of hesitation gives his future self time to escape the scene, leaving Joe in a disastrous position. The mafia is, naturally, displeased, and looks to dispose of both of the iterations of their former employee. As Joe seeks refuge with Emily Blunt’s character Sara, a single mother living on a farm, the young family’s seemingly idyllic, though simultaneously twisted lives are thrown into disarray too.

The performances in the film are great across the board. The before-mentioned actors all do their jobs, which is a tall order on its own. Even the supporting cast, however, shine in their scenes – Paul Dano, who has played to my mind exclusively likable characters in the past, is perfectly despicable throughout. Jeff Daniels as the boss is, as any terrifying father figure must be, simultaneously instantly amiable, and bone-chillingly cruel. Even the young Pierce Gagnon shows surprising range at the age of 5. All this is also in large part to the credit of writer-director Rian Johnson. The largely independent filmmaker’s writing really shines in the dialogue, as well as in concisely stating his overarching themes both through words and visuals.

The director has stated numerous times that the movie is about the notion of fixing a problem by finding the right person and killing them. Johnson unflinchingly takes us through to the logical outcome of both a character who has based his life around that policy, and the culture which in the movie seems to have adopted the idea wholeheartedly. Violence, of course, begets more violence, and some of the parts of the movie are beyond shocking (a certain scene of retroactive mutilation is particularly hard to shake).

If you are a fan of innovative science-fiction which is about something more than special effects, while simultaneously being completely thrilling, see Looper at once. Consider yourselves warned, however – if you are the type of person who cannot stand movie violence and simply would prefer to keep that out of their world, hey, it’s ok. We understand. Just be prepared to not understand half of what the rest of us talk about for the rest of the year.