Apparently there's only two things you have to know in life: when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. I have learned that I do not know the appropriate timing for either of these things.
I'm a lousy gambler, always holdin' or foldin' when I should be foldin' or holdin'. So I understand Marvel's hesitation to go all in with Ant-Man, their latest superhero flick.
If it's agonisingly stomach churning to watch some heel lean across the table and greedily swipe up the pitiful remnants of my $20 buy-in then it must be absolutely atomic to have US$130 million sitting on the table being eyed up by vultures.
With Ant-Man costing that sort of moolah to make it's no wonder Marvel played it safe.
But I think they got it wrong, made a mistake, an error.
With Ant-Man Marvel has undoubtedly made a terrible call. A poor decision that will see them leaving the table with many, many more millions than they arrived with. You could call it a disaster.
The film itself is pretty good. It takes a little while to get going, but right from the opening shot it's a lot of fun. The story's straightforward, there's many impressive and inventive action sequences, plenty of cool effects (especially in iMax 3D), a breezy tone and plenty of lols.
Sure, it coasts on Paul Rudd's easy comic charm and leaves the always sensational Michael Douglas to do most of the heavy lifting. But when your whole premise rests on the audience buying into a magical suit that shrinks the wearer to the size of an ant then you damn well better have someone who brings straight up don't f*** with me authority to the hokey explanations he has to drop throughout the film.
So yeah, I liked the movie a lot. But it will go down as one of cinema's all-time wasted opportunities.
While Marvel plays for keeps with their big guns, The Avengers, Iron-Man, Captain America etc, with last year's Guardians of the Galaxy they proved they weren't afraid to mix it up and take cinematic gambles with their second-tier, less well-known properties.
Ant-Man was supposed to be this year's cinematic gamble. A high-stakes risk that could, if it paid off, pay off big. After all GotG was the surprise smash of last year. Marvel went all in and came out cashed up.
With Ant-Man they followed the GotG formula: They found a comedic, likeable actor to transform into an unlikely superhero and they found a cult director with oodles of passion, knowledge and style to bring real personality to the film. Marvel had done everything possible to stack the deck in its favour.
And then it all went bust. Shortly before he was due to start shooting Ant-Man, director Edgar Wright left the project.
This sucked because Wright is one of the most electric, kinetic, pop-culture savvy filmmakers around.
His films, which include Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, are high-energy, visual spectacles that simply burst with ingenious creativity and stylish flair yet still manage to retain a warm personable quality. So when the official reason for his departure was "differences in vision", it sounded more than a little ridic.
Especially as history shows that Wright's vision is always extraordinarily awesome.
Yes, it would have glaringly stood out from the other uniformed films in Marvel's cinematic universe, but come on, it's Ant-Man we're talking about here. Who ever cared about Ant-Man? Why not go crazy and wild and get jiggy with it, man?
The statement becomes even more laughable when you consider that it is Wright's "vision" that, even after many rewrites, still makes up the backbone of the completed film.
We'll probably never know what truly happened, what caused the split, or whether it was Marvel or Wright who, after two years of working on the picture together, knew it was time to throw down the cards and walk away.
Marvel went and replaced Wright with journeyman director Peyton Reed, whose last film was 2008's Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man. There's no denying their maverick bet on this random pick has paid off. He's done a great job. The film's a lot of fun and is well worth seeing.
But Reed's no Edgar Wright. And there are sequences here that would have truly been mind-bogglingly spectacular had Wright been behind the camera. It's abundantly obvious when watching Ant-Man that this should have been an Edgar Wright film and that it very much isn't.
Ant-Man is very good but it could have - should have - been great. I can't help but think that Marvel's win here is our loss.