Bobby Cannavale has become one of Hollywood’s most recognizable character actors in everything from prestige dramas to superhero movies.
However, his role inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains relatively undefined compared to his other work. When speaking about the most useless characters in the MCU, many complained about Cannavale’s role inside the Ant-Man series. Many fans want to see him fill more space as a yin to Scott Lang’s Yang.
Cannavale has been a part of the Hollywood lexicon for nearly a quarter-century. Starting his career with bit roles in seldom-seen movies, his breakout came in the short-lived series Trinity. While not a hit, it got him onto the national scale, and before long, Cannavale was getting better work in series like Sex and the City/.
However, his first significant role came in Third Watch, where the actors spent two years on the firefighter drama. This gave way to more television work on hit shows such as Ally McBeal, Oz, Six Feet Under, and several other guest appearances. However, around this same time, Cannavale began to make himself a bigger commodity on the big screen, too.
He started getting more prominent roles in films like Snakes on a Plane and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. However, in the background, he maintained steady television work both as a star and a guest actor. His run on Boardwalk Empire, however, helped elevate him to another level, while Nurse Jackie helped propel it even more.
Cannavale wasn’t a headlining star, but fans of television and movies alike would be hard-pressed not to know who he was based on the magnitude of his work.
Mr. Robot, Homecoming, Angie Tribeca, and appearances in Oscar-nominated films like The Irishman and I, Tonya, showed the type of sway he held in the industry. His small role in the MCU through the Ant-Man movies, however, leaves much to be desired in many fans’ eyes.
Cannavale’s Officer Paxton is the rare case of an MCU standout without a comic book origin. Paxton plays a relatively small role in the arc of the stories, but he’s married to Scott Lang’s ex and is a stepfather to his only daughter. Much of his role is relegated to passing off Cassie to Paul Rudd’s Scott and holding awkward conversations.
As an ex-felon, Scott is the antithesis of Paxton. Paxton is a law enforcer, while Lang is a recovering house thief. This dichotomy leads to moments such as the part when Paxton arrests Lang for his perceived crimes. However, if fans had their way, Paxton’s role would be even more prominent.
Fans chime in
In a post on Reddit, user u/Victor_Zsasz asked if Cannavale’s Paxton had any real place inside the MCU.
“Is [Paxton] the least necessary recurring character in the MCU?”
However, some users did not see it this way. One user pointed out in a since-deleted comment that Paxton’s contrast provides next to Lang helps further Ant-Man’s story.
“Bobby’s role as a police officer provides an important contrast to Scott’s role as former criminal, plus it is plot-relevant in the first movie when he arrests Scott.”
At the end of the day, not every character in the MCU has to be a superhero or an ambitious bit-player helping them along. There are also ordinary people who provide a little bit of human drama in a series predicated on extra-human problems.
This is why Cannavale fits well in the MCU, and if he returns, maybe the creators could build off a foundation that was already set for Paxton.
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