Watch out for sliding goalposts!

Ant-Man is in the theaters now; I’ll be seeing it tonight.  One thing that is remarkable about it is the amount of preemptive negativity that has swirled around it.  I’ve talked with a lot of people who just know it’s going to suck, based on the flimsiest of evidence like:

  • The movie being announced in the first place (“Ant-Man?  Really?  That’s gonna suck!”)
  • The announcement that they weren’t using Hank Pym, but Scott Lang, in the title role (“They’re not using Pym as Ant-Man?  It’s gonna suck!”)
  • The first director, Edgar Wright, leaving the project (“See…they can’t even keep a director…it’s gonna suck!”)
  • The lack of any significant 2014 Comic-Con presence (“They didn’t even present anything…..they know it’s gonna suck!”)
  • The teaser trailer that dropped a few months ago (“They hardly showed anything….it’s gonna suck!”)

By my estimation the real reason people weren’t big on this movie is because they want to see other characters more, whether it’s Captain Marvel, Black Panther, the Marvel-assisted Spider-Man film, or a Black Widow solo film.  Despite being an original Avenger in the comics overall interest in Ant-Man was pretty small (see what I did there?) outside of Marvel Comics diehards.  At the same time one would think that Marvel Studios has built up enough goodwill that they should be able to drop a “hey, trust us” movie in there without any major backlash.  Judging by the response I’m seeing from people who’s seen it already, they’ve proven that they deserve that much from us.  The movie will likely do well off of word of mouth and go on to be successful.

But that won’t stop some people from calling it a misstep.  That’s where we are now; instead of anticipation a lot of people are waiting in the wings looking (and hoping, it strangely seems) for Marvel’s first failure at the box office, and many have invested so much in that particular view that they’re going to move the goalposts anyway possible to make their prediction true.  Here are the grosses for the Marvel Cinematic Universe films so far:

  • Iron Man, $585 million
  • Incredible Hulk, $263 million
  • Iron Man 2, $623 million
  • Thor, $449 million
  • Captain America, $370 million
  • Avengers, $1.5 billion
  • Iron Man 3, $1.2 billion
  • Thor: Dark World, $644 million
  • Cap 2, $714 million
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, $774 million
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: $1.38 billion to date

age of ultron

So…..which movie do you think the naysayers are going to compare it to?  This is the debut film for a new MCU character so it would make sense to look at what Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy did.  So that’s somewhere between Cap’s $370 million and Guardians’ $774 million.  In a world where people are rational anything above $400 million would be acceptable given the relative obscurity of the character and the reliance on word  of mouth.  But in Gotta Make My Hot Take True Land no number will be good enough.  It’s way too easy to say that Iron Man 3 cracked $1 billion coming off an Avengers movie lead in so Ant-Man should do the same.  Or that Guardians featured previously unseen characters who are less well known than Ant-Man (although that’s not so true for newer Marvel comic fans) so there’s no reason Ant-Man should do less.  That are stupid assessments but that won’t stop people from using them if they’re needed to prove a point.

Is there any antidote for this?  Sure.  One, go see and enjoy the movie.  Two, stop clicking on those stupid articles.  Come here instead.

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