The Curious Case of Comic-Con's Missing 'Ant-Man'

With the movie out this week, where was Marvel's latest big-screen hero this weekend?
With the movie out this week, where was Marvel's latest big-screen hero this weekend?

Comic-Con is, in theory, ground zero for geek culture: There are fans of everything there, from the most mainstream projects (The Avengers, Star Wars) to the most obscure.

(On Sunday, I'm pretty sure I saw someone cosplaying as Arnold Rimmer from the first two seasons of 1980s British sitcom Red Dwarf.) As such, there's a case to be made for the show being some kind of barometer of what the collective nerd mind is thinking about at that very moment. If so, then Marvel's Ant-Man should perhaps be a little worried.

It's not just that Marvel Studios made next to no effort to promote the movie so close to its release, as odd as that may be. By comparison, at last year's Comic-Con, the studio announced a sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy a week ahead of that movie's release. After all, it was already known that Marvel was skipping out on Comic-Con this year, aside from its TV panel, so there was no real surprise during the show itself that there wasn't an Ant-Man-centric panel in Hall H.

(That the Ant-Man movie costume was missing from its prime display spot during Comic-Con's preview night, when press was taking photos to share online, was unfortunate, but unavoidable; a last-minute mannequin malfunction saw to that. It stood proud from Thursday through Sunday, however.)

More worrisome, perhaps, was the complete lack of Ant-Man-related buzz on the floor. There was no Ant-Man cosplay revolution to be found amongst fans — Agent Carter remained the most popular Marvel character to cosplay by far. By comparison, I didn't see one Ant-Man cosplayer the entire time I was at the show — and retailers and dealers didn't seem to be shifting significant amounts of Ant-Man-related content, nor displaying such for potentially interested parties to explore. While Ant-Man posters adorned signage for the show around the city, few seemed to be talking about it.

Whether this is a problem for Marvel is an open question. Certainly, it's not ideal for the studio, but it could be argued that Marvel has already transcended the Comic-Con audience with the massive success of Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron. With Ant-Man tracking for a $55 to $65 million opening weekend, it's not as if the movie is likely to fail at the box office.