Let’s be honest: we’ve been worried about Ant-Man. It isn’t enough that the hero is difficult (borderline silly) to seriously segue into the already-crowded Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man had a tortured near-deacade long journey to the big screen, a directorial change at the last minute, serious rewrites and cast a comedian with no action movies in his resume in its lead role. Let me allay your fears: Ant-Man is good. It’s a fun, funny heist movie that deftly brings Ant-Man into the MCU in a big way. Marvel’s made another smart, unique film that ends its second phase on a light note before the looming specter of Captain America: Civil War and Phase 3.
I have to admit that I’ve been dreading this movie for months because I was sure that it was going to break Marvel’s momentum. The firing of original director Edgar Wright and the less than inspiring trailers, had me convinced this was going to be …well as stupid as the concept of an “Ant-Man” sounds. It’s not. From a cold open that grounds Hank Pym, the Pym Particles and Ant-Man with SHIELD and its history, the movie is instantly placed right in the heart of the MCU, not on the outside trying to fit in. Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly ground the entire concept and lend it scientific gravitas, while the brilliant casting of Paul Rudd in the lead role keeps the tone of the film light and tongue-in-cheek. The two form a balance that allows the whole concept credibility and, before long, you’re all in on Ant-Man.
As Guardians of the Galaxy was a straight-up science fiction film that just happened to take place in and further the larger story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man is -at its heart- a comedic heist film. Making smart choices to show the diversity of the characters and the kind of stories that can be told within this giant, ever-expanding sandbox is how Marvel can keep things fresh. Rather than being the stumbling block I was afraid it was going to be, Ant-Man furthers the story (it takes place directly after Avengers: Age of Ultron and that movie’s ending is a key part of one of this film’s best surprises; not spoiling it for you).
Hank Pym (Douglas) is a character with a lot of baggage. Marvel essentially ruined the character with a wife-beating storyline in the 1970’s and they’ve never really been able to bring him back to the founding Avenger status he held. Bypassing him and Janet Van Dyne (the original Wasp and Hank’s wife), is a smart move for the MCU. The Wasp is dealt with and addressed and brought into the roster of heroes. Pym has lost his company to his former protegé (House of Cards’ Corey Stoll) and his daughter Hope. He identifies an ex-con with a talent for thieving (Paul Rudd) and trains him as the new Ant-Man to break into his own company and stop his technology from being weaponized as Yellowjacket armor.
Rudd’s training and the execution of the heist are 85% of the film, and while it isn’t as grand or awe-inspiring as some of the best entries of the MCU, it never fails to entertain, is genuinely funny and leaves you genuinely wanting more Ant-Man. That is all this film needed to do to be a home run given its mission and its production difficulties. NOTE: There are two end credits scenes! The first is essential to the future of Ant-Man; the second is essentially the first scene of Phase 3. DO. NOT. MOVE. Ant-Man defies the odds, and Marvel delivers another winner.
5 thoughts on “Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015) *Phase 2 Closes on a High Note!*”
Wow. I am ecstatic. Someday I would love to know what Wright’s vision was for the movie. It sounds like you don’t think there’s much room for improvement. Is it possible Wright was in the wrong? (pun unintended)
Phase Three is going to be a minefield. At the end of the day I have faith they’ll successfully navigate it, but it’s going to be tough. Black Panther won’t translate easily to the screen. And bringing Peter back to school (and making his reboot resemble a John Hughes movie) is a tactic that might alienate average people who feel like they’ve seen it all before.
Also I saw A2 in a crowded theater, and the vibe in there was muted. Putting aside some dodgy pacing/editing that I’m sure resulted from the Whedon/Disney feud, I think it depended too much on the average moviegoer being conversant with the mythology. Also people complained that the climax was the same as in the first avengers, but with robots instead of aliens. Those people were wrong, terribly wrong, and you know I loved AOU, but they’re splitting Infinity War into two parts, and there’s a danger that people will start feeling sensory overload. Releasing Ant-Man right after A2 turned out to be a master stroke.
Also… I find it hard to believe that anyone, anywhere, would fail to appreciate Doctor Strange, but the movie is going to be the strangest thing in the MCU thus far. And Inhumans is lesser known than Guardians was, and that’s saying something.
The MCU shares something with Pixar (other than the consistent quality and the trust their name inspires in the public): as a general trend, it keeps getting better with each release. Yes, Pixar has Cars and Brave, and the MCU has IM3 (and I’ve come around to your point of view. I watched it again and it is EMPTY, though I still like the Mandarin twist). Also like Pixar, the MCU keeps getting stranger and more ambitious. I would have bet a lot on Ant-Man being a dud. Bodes really well for SW.
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Just saw it. Terrific action sequences. The tiny yet panoramic world is incredible, and more than what I had hoped for. But overall? I thought this was the weakest film in the franchise by a wide margin. It was better than what I’d been expecting for the past few years, but I thought the humor fell flat and the script was very…. painfully… painfully… cliched.
This is not a disaster, and I was impressed by how it stood on its own two feet yet connected to the rest of the universe. I’m glad you liked it. I would never root against such a good-spirited, family-friendly film. But I’ll probably never watch the whole thing again (though I could see skipping from action scene to action scene on blu-ray). I’m looking ahead now.
I might agree were it not for Iron Man 3 that this is the weakest Marvel movie, but I think it’s better than IM3 and The Incredible Hulk (the latter due to the blunders in editing). That’s more because the bar is so ridiculously high for these films now and the average is about a 9.25 film. I could’ve nitpicked more in my review. I think Corey Stoll was miscast as the villain and yeah, not all the humor hit home runs, but I was consistently laughing. I love that anyone can turn up in any of these films now and it’s a great surprise. I really thought this might be a bomb, and Marvel’s not getting Marvel numbers on it for a lot of reasons, a lot of them self-inflicted, but it is geting a lot of good word-of-mouth and man the last end credits scene sets a much grimmer tone as we got a look at where we’re going to be when we pick up with the MCU in May.