Marvel fans sit less than a month away from the release of Thor: The Dark World, the second chapter after Iron Man 3 of Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The next two releases from Marvel Studios are both in post-production with Captain America: The Winter Soldier wrapping in June and Guardians of the Galaxy finishing up shooting late last week, and all of these lay the groundwork for Joss Whedon to return to the director's chair early next year to begin principal photography on The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Thanks to a recent (and curious) release date change, Marvel Studios will also be shooting the first Phase 3 film, Ant-Man, around the same time for a summer 2015 release as well, just two months after The Avengers sequel hits theaters, and director Edgar Wright revealed that he's back on Los Angeles to begin production.
According to Variety, Marvel may already be far along in the casting process for the lead in their next solo character film and that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd are the top two candidates for the Ant-Man part, with potentially a third unnamed actor.
This is the first time we've hard of funnyman Paul Rudd being namedropped in association with a Marvel movie, so his casting would be as outlandish and comedy-focused as the film itself may prove to be. That being said, Gordon-Levitt may be more of the long-term franchise guy (he's 12 years younger) and his name repeatedly showed up in association with Guardians of the Galaxy when director James Gunn and the studio were searching hard for the actor to play Star-Lord, a role that also went to a proven comedy talent.
And what a perceived steal from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment that would be, even though JGL wasn't going to come back to play Batman after his appearance in The Dark Knight Rises anyway.
Rudd's got Anchorman 2 coming up this December and a relatively clean schedule going forward, while Gordon-Levitt is celebrating the release of his directorial debut Don Jon, a film which embraces a unique comedic style and stylistic format - something Edgar Wright may appreciate given his resume of unique works. Levitt's comic book movie background also includes Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which hits theaters next year.
Both names do confirm that Marvel Studios is looking for a familiar face and someone proven to have acting chops in drama and comedy, so we're very curious as to who that third contender may be if they are also looking at someone else. In the meantime, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd are soon meeting with Marvel decision-makers so expect more news soon.
JGL or Rudd - who do you prefer? Is it possible both are being looked at for different roles in the film? For all we know, they could both be playing different characters who wear the Ant-Man suit (i.e. Hank Pym and Scott Lang from the books).
For other names we liked for the role, check our post list of 10 candidates Marvel should look at for Ant-Man.
Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!