The Newest Avenger
Ant-Man is the latest installment in Marvel Studio’s plan to take over the world. We are introduced to perhaps one of Marvel’s most relatable protagonists since Spider-Man. Scott Lang is a slick thief talented in breaking into the most secure places, a profession with very little benefit. Scott’s criminal activity costs him his wife and his young daughter who admires him greatly. Now rooming with three odd friends in a rusty apartment, Scott looks for a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his daughter. In one last heist, Scott comes across the Ant-Man suit capable of shrinking a human down to the size of…well an ant.He is guided by Dr. Hank Pym, original creator of the suit and the “Pym Particles” that power it. Hank enlists Scott’s talents in order to stop Darren Cross, a rival scientist who is close to discovering the “Pym Particle” formula that was buried long ago and intends to use them for evil. Scott discovers the suit is capable of far greater power, making him the superhero he always wanted to be for his little girl.
He is guided by Dr. Hank Pym, original creator of the suit and the “Pym Particles” that power it. Hank enlists Scott’s talents in order to stop Darren Cross, a rival scientist who is close to discovering the “Pym Particle” formula that was buried long ago and intends to use them for evil. Scott discovers the suit is capable of far greater power, making him the superhero he always wanted to be for his little girl.
Some Small Changes
Ant-Man draws from its comic book origins, yet, just as all Marvel movies before it, changes a few details. One of the most vital is the protagonist. Originally, Hank Pym was the main Ant-Man with Scott Lang following in his footsteps later. In this new universe, Hank Pym donned the suit as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in its early days alongside Peggy Carter, and Howard Stark. For the most part, I am content with Marvel’s changes to the growing cinematic universe, but I’ll admit, I am a little sad Hank and his wife, Janet, won’t be joining the Avengers. There were plenty of other subtle changes, but the film did a great job at keeping the spirit of the comics.
Edgar Wright’s Departure
Speaking of spirit, one of the headlines surrounding the release of Ant-Man was the departure of director Edgar Wright, known for Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Edgar Wright had been working on Ant-Man for several years before leaving the project due to creative differences. Being one of my favorite directors, Edgar Wright’s absence was saddening and I am curious to know what the film would have ended up like had he remained director. Taking his place is Peyton Reed, known for Yes Man..? It definitely felt like a downgrade even though an unfair one. If you are curious as to what changed after Edgar Wright left, Peyton Reed explains it in an interview with Radio Times.
Still there is no use in thinking of what could have been. Ant-Man is a solid film, but is definitely one of the weaker installments in Marvel’s growing roster of superheroes. It would be unfair to compare Ant-Man to a packed team-up like Avengers: Age Of Ultron, but it definitely has its flaws. One of the most obvious and crucial lie in the protagonist and antagonist. Paul Rudd’s portrayal of Scott Lang is perhaps one of the most underwhelming. Each of Marvel’s superheroes have some sort of depth and personality. Steve Rogers is the vigilant soldier pulled out of time, and Stark is the billionaire playboy philanthropist. Scott is just a guy, and I can safely assume that is the point, but it definitely hurt his image.
Ant-Man isn’t the only shallow character in the film. Darren Cross, also known as Yellow Jacket, is next in a long list of underwhelmingly shallow Marvel villains. His motivations are short-sighted and he lacks any real character. These characters are two of the most important in any film and they failed to impress.
Ironically the most outstanding performances come from the supporting cast. Michael Douglas plays a weathered and troubled Hank Pym. He adds a gravitas to the role that acts as an anchor in one of Marvel’s strangest film. He has a proper arc and you really get a sense of his suffering and loss. Hank’s daughter, Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly, also impresses. She plays a strong young woman fractured by her troubled past with her father. She trains Scott Lang and works undercover at Cross Industries infiltrating Darren’s operations. Michael Pena lights up the screen as one of Scott Lang’s close friends. His monologues provide some great comic relief and act as a creative storytelling device.
Size Doesn’t Matter
One of the most amazing aspects of the film was the creative ways the Ant-Man suit was utilized. Scott’s first foray into this unknown world is truly a masterpiece in cinema. Watching Scott ride into the sky on a carpenter ant and run alongside an army of ants underground are some of the most chillingly exciting moments in the film. The creative team utilize the Ant-Man’s abilities flawlessly and makes for an enjoyable time.
One of the stand out moments involves a surprise appearance by another Avenger. Scott is forced to go head to toe with one of the Avenger’s newest members and it adds some great action and humor to the film. Marvel excels at weaving it’s stories into the larger fabric of the cinematic universe. There are plenty of moments in Ant-Man that will make you grin ear to ear.
Ant-Man is not one of Marvel’s most impressive outings, but it is far from a terrible film. Scott may have some strange abilities, but they are used creatively and believably. The film successfully weaves Ant-Man into the larger story arc of the Avengers and everything else happening in the MCU while adding some new players to the field. If you love Marvel as much as I do, you will still watch this solid film and discover what it means for the future. Oh and stay for the end credit scenes!