Marvel has had a flawless record at the box office since the company began producing its own movies. Sure, fans have had mixed feelings about some of the Marvel Studios films, but they have all been commercial successes. That flawless record was thrown into question when director Edgar Wright exited the movie just before filming was set to begin, citing creative differences. Adam McKay of Step Brothers and Anchorman fame was brought in to adjust the script accordingly, but that didn’t settle well in the minds of Marvel fans. Thankfully, the movie does everything it needs to and then some.
Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, in what is basically an origin story for the character. While Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has been around as Ant-Man for quite some time, you only see glimpses of him in the suit to setup some of the history of Ant-Man. This is Scott Lang’s movie and that’s made very clear early in the film.
Think of Ant-Man like you would Guardians of the Galaxy. It fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but it’s very much a standalone film. There are some nods to other Marvel characters, and more than enough to make you understand this takes place in the same universe as Iron Man and his band of merry men. We won’t spoil anything here (even though some of the more recent trailers already have), but one of the best scenes in the film is a direct nod to the rest of the MCU.
Paul Rudd is convincing and genuine as Ant-Man and Scott Lang. He learns how to control the Ant-Man suit a bit faster than you might find believable, but given the fact that the movie can’t run on forever, we’ll let that slide. Michael Douglas is fiercesome and determined as Hank Pym, turning in a performance that probably shouldn’t have surprised us, but it did anyway. Chalk it up to not expecting much from Douglas or Pym, but we were pleasantly surprised.
The supporting cast includes Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne, Corey Stoll as the primary antagonist, Darren Cross (Yellowjacket), and Michael Peña as the main comic relief in the film, Luis. Hope is a character who hasn’t had a great relationship with her father, so she’s hardened quite a bit. This makes her one of the strongest female characters in the MCU at the moment and she’s only going to get stronger moving forward (assuming we see her again). She currently works for Darren Cross, who has taken on Pym’s research after he decides it’s not fit for humans to have such power.
Darren Cross is a fairly straightforward villain. There isn’t a lot of depth to him and we don’t get to know much of him throughout the film. He’s easily the lowest point of the film. The character feels very much like Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) from the first Iron Man film. He’s there to be the bad guy and have an epic showdown with the good guy at the end of the movie. Beyond that he doesn’t serve much purpose.
Michael Peña’s Luis is easily the breakout performance of the film. He steals almost every scene he’s in and offers the most laughs throughout the film. While the movie isn’t meant to be as humorous as Guardians of the Galaxy, it walks a fine line between Guardians and the more serious MCU films. In the midst of all this you have Luis landing the best jokes of the film. If there’s a sequel to Ant-Man (which we imagine there will be), Luis needs to have a role equal to or greater than his role in this film. It would be a shame if this is the last time we see the character.
There’s a lot to like about Ant-Man. The ants in the film are all CG, and while the visual effects people looked at real ants for reference, they felt real ants were too scary up close. They modeled the ants in the film to look a little more friendly and the effect definitely works. The ants are an integral part of the film, and even if you have a phobia of insects, as long as it’s not too bad you shouldn’t have issues with Ant-Man. By the end of the film you’ll care if an ant dies and you’ll be rooting for them as they basically become an extension of Scott Lang’s character.
The small world effects are similar to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but instead of building large props the Marvel team used micro photography, filming objects at very close range to make them appear gigantic. This effect works very well as you never feel as though Ant-Man is running through a bunch of CG scenery. Ant-Man never feels out of place whether he’s big or small, which brings us to the next major win for Ant-Man.
The combat in the film is fast, fun and unique thanks to Ant-Man’s ability to instantly change his size from ant-like to a normal human size. While this isn’t one of Marvel’s most action-packed films, all of the action sequences are unique and offer a fresh taste of fun that we haven’t seen in the MCU in some time. Edgar Wright’s influence in both the action scenes and the dialogue is definitely felt, but if you’re a fan of Wright and McKay you can probably guess who wrote which scenes. Everything blends well, but there is a clear difference in writing styles in some scenes.
If you’re a fan of Marvel movies you will enjoy Ant-Man. As an origin story it’s not as developed as some of the other Marvel films on their second or third outing, but everything about Ant-Man works. It’s not the best film in the MCU, but it’s also far from the worst of the bunch. To be fair, it’s going to be difficult for Marvel to top the first Avengers film or even the first Iron Man film. As for Ant-Man, be sure to stay until the very end of the credits as there are two scenes that appear during and after the credits. We look forward to seeing Ant-Man in future Marvel films including a hopeful Ant-Man 2.
Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Directors: Peyton Reed
Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll
Runtime: 117 Minutes