Marvel’s ANT-MAN has been unleashed upon the world this weekend and we were lucky enough to see it last night. Before we begin, I feel it is important to lay down some things about the film before going in. This is the last movie in Marvel’s Phase 2 series of films. Many assumed it was AGE OF ULTRON, but it was not. Also, Edgar Wright walked away from this film due to creative differences, and despite many people liking him, he can GTFO and I could care less. Now that those are out of the way, lets begin! A cage-less, Spoiler Free review.
ANT-MAN is another bold move for Marvel and not just because it is a relatively unknown character, but because how it handles the Ant-Man mantle. Yet again, what I call strategic storytelling pays off for the company and helps make this movie larger than life. The film really excels in expanding on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s past stories, their present dangers, and some crazy awesome ideas that could be used in the future. This helps ANT-MAN feel a lot like Iron Man (2008) in the way it is grounded and character drive, but doesn’t ignore how other Marvel events have set everything in motion.
Back to the actual Ant-Man, we’re given a story involving 2 families, the Pym clan and Scott Lang. This is the first time we’ve come across main characters who have children, but not the first story about family (Thor is a good film about that). From this we get an emotional tale that culminates in a visually exciting third act that definitely gives me hopes to see ANT-MAN 2 sooner than later.
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang is inspired casting. He isn’t overly humorous as the trailers have us to believe, but convincing enough that we feel his arrogance is drives a lot of the choices he makes, rather than standard criminal activity. His evolution over time isn’t strong enough in his first outing, but can definitely be improved upon as he appears later on in the MCU. Hank Pym, although we wish we knew more about the mystical Pym Particles and his Ant-Man days from the 80’s, does give us a mentor that Lang needs. His own broken relationship with his daughter and even the antagonist, Darren Cross, drive most of the story and puts everyone in their current predicaments (although indirectly, I feel).
This Marvel film suffers from the same thing every other one does, a villain that feels under developed throughout the span of this story. From egotistical CEO to a suited up Yellowjacket, there are a lot of blanks in arc, development, and story that we’re left to fill over time. He is not the weakest of the villains, due to his proximity to Hank Pym and the trope of scorned children exacting revenge with unhinged “successes”, rather than talks of feelings. Its very reminiscent of the Stane story from Iron Man. This man is a flawed person with end goals that aren’t as bad of a stretch as say, Ronan.
Lastly, the visual aspect of this film is unlike anything I’ve seen on screen. The macro cinematography brings this micro world to life and its fun to take a look at a world we’ve usually been seeing from bigger POVs. We’ve gone from films about proverbial Gods to one made for ants. He needs to be at least 3 times bigger to compete with them! But seriously, this movie goes out of its way to look different due to the scope of the character and it’ll stick with you through the end.
At the end of the day, ANT-MAN doesn’t break down walls or sit atop the increasingly long Marvel Cinematic Universe list, yet it still grows (not shrinks) on you throughout the film. This small corner of the Marvel Universe gets increasingly smaller and ignores the world changing events that the other phase 2 films attempt to reach. This more intimate setting gives a solid introduction to Scott Lang, Hank Pym, and Hope van Dyne, while also leaving us wanting to see them more in the large plans Marvel ultimately has.