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Here’s Why Michael Douglas Isn’t Currently Signed Up for Any More Marvel Movies

Posted on the 30 July 2015 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

There are Ant-Man plot spoilers below.

Let’s just cut to the chase: Michael Douglas isn’t signed up to appear in any more Marvel movies because when he first signed up to play Hank Pym in Ant-Man his character was supposed to die at the end.

But let me back up for a second. I’ve never been present when an actor first signs on the dotted line to play a superhero for Marvel Studios. However, those contracts are notorious for how much they low-ball the actors on salary, lock them into seemingly perpetual servitude, practically screaming, “We now own you!” So, in my head I picture such contract signings taking place in a Wolfram & Hart-like office building, i.e., the ever-present law firm in Joss Whedon’s Angel. In that universe, Wolfram & Hart was actually a cabal of interdimensional demons merely putting up a front as a law firm on Earth. As such, supernatural craziness was usually going down behind closed doors, such as one lawyer needing a special tarantula to crawl across her keyboard to simply open a password-locked file or hooded figures forcing you to perform a human sacrifice as initiation into their secret cult. For some reason, it amuses me to imagine similar goings-on at Marvel Studios, like Scarlet Johansson possibly surrounded by chanting druids when she signed her first Black Widow contract for Iron Man 2, which an insider told Deadline at the time was “as bad as any deal that I’ve heard. It’s lowball money. And it ties her to countless movies, including that ensemble The Avengers, which is what makes this brutal for a lot of actors.”

Maybe it’s only funny if you’ve seen Angel. Plus, Johansson is doing just fine now with her Iron Man exposure leading to big paydays with Lucy and the forthcoming Ghost in the Shell.

Either way, we’re now all so oddly aware of Marvel’s mastery of the Hollywood contract that it’s mildly stunning when someone like Robert Downey, Jr. rakes them over the coals on re-negotiation or Michael Douglas admits he got away with signing a contract only obligating him to be in one movie instead of the more standard 6. However, that’s exactly what happened when Douglas recently told Yahoo! (via BirthMoviesDeath), “I’m not signed up to anything more. I’ve learned a whole lot and would look forward to more if it comes my way but if not I’ve enjoyed the experience.”

At this point, it’s kind of up in the air as to whether or not this will even be an issue. Douglas’ Hank Pym survives his gunshot wound in Ant-Man [insert joke about no one of consequence staying dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe], and ends the film nicely set up to renew his search for assumed-dead wife Janet in the quantum realm. I’ve already seen half-serious arguments Marvel should cast Douglas’ actual wife Catherine Zeta-Jones to play Janet. However, with Ant-Man pulling in Marvel’s weakest box office numbers since The Incredible Hulk they’re stuck between deciding if they’re now better off shoving Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang into The Avengers or if this is the type of franchise-starter which will do okay but pick up enough fans through home video that a sequel will be much bigger. Evangline Lilly’s Hope will definitely be seen as The Wasp at some point, but that could very well be in Avengers: Infinity War instead of “Ant-Man 2” (or “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” a title I personally prefer).

Hank Pym, on the other hand, may or may not be back, and if he returns it will necessitate Marvel negotiating a new contract with Michael Douglas. That’s a weird position for them, and it turns out that it’s yet another one of those side effects of the film’s well-documented production difficulties. When Peyton Reed took over as director, the script he inherited from Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish with significant re-writes from Rudd and Adam McKay ended with Pym dying during the climactic battle. However, Reed told the Empire Film Magazine podcast that as a longtime fan of Ant-Man in the comics he simply couldn’t bring himself to finally give Hank Pym his introduction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe only to kill him off. Hank, after all, was a founding member of the Avengers, and created Ultron, both of which have been taken away from him in the movies. Now, they were finally going to put him into a movie just to kill him?

If Pym does get to return, though, Douglas wants to be more than just Mr. Exposition, “Paul and Adam (McKay’s) re-write bought a lot more humor. I accused Paul of bringing a lot more humor to his character! Michael Pena can take care of himself. I on the other hand was left giving the exposition and the plot, which I was happy to do. In the next one I hope things get a little more bizarre.”

Michael Douglas is really good in Ant-Man. If they make a sequel, he needs to be a part of it. The bigger question is whether or not there will even be a sequel. We’ll have to wait and see. After all, Ant-Man has been in theaters for less than a month at this point.

Sources: BirthMoviesDeath, Empire Film Magazine podcast

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