Ant-Man Movie Review
"Well, first, I think we should call the Avengers..."
Ant-Man is a movie that could have gone real bad, real easy. The film was originally the pet project of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Spaced), who not only wrote the initial script, but was also set to direct. Last year, Wright dipped out, citing creative differences between himself and the studio and leaving Marvel to pull in Peyton Reed, director of the greatest sports movie of all time, to fill the void and bring the project to life.
After Age of Ultron, I went into this one with pretty low expectations. Mind you, Ultron wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t a perfect one either and seeing how Ant-Man is the final dot on the sentence that’s been Phase Two of the MCU, I was ready to side-eye it. But guys, I was seriously impressed. Ant-Man is fun, it’s cohesive, there’s personality in it as much as there’s whimsy. It’s all balanced out really well and damn it, I now want a giant ant-puppy.
I think it was a really smart move to frame the story around the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, since this set us up for more of a redemption tale. Those are a great way to hang a narrative and it still pulled in the first Ant-Man, Hank Pym in a big way. Lang is just a ex-con looking to do right by his kid and is trying to go at it clean this time. That includes the hell that is the service industry. We’ve all been there, whether it’s retail or food service, and we all can wince in sympathy at the chuckle-headed customers and bosses he has to deal with just to make a couple of bucks to put towards child support. Of course, that goes to hell in a hand basket pretty early on and he’s right back to a life of crime.
I think my favorite element of this movie was just how cohesive it was to the rest of the MCU. It showed us so many of the connections in the universe we’ve seen constructed over the last seven years as well as pulling from actual canon (Ant-Man 47, To Steal an Ant-Man). Early on we get to see my girl, Peggy Carter appear, now aged and in the 1980s as Pym discovers that his research is being utilized for unethical reasons. The movie also brings in the Avengers and shout-outs to old Jack Kirby Astonishing Tales, which I thought was a great touch for old school comic fans.
The film also did a great job of exposing the fact that all of these fantastic superheroes do not necessarily get along or agree with each other. One of Pym’s biggest concerns was letting his shrinking tech get in the hands of “cutesy” Tony Stark, this is one of the best things about Earth-616 and to see it included in Earth-199999 was a smart move. It even brought in our first legitimate glimpse at the Quantum Zone. This is really what Phase Two has needed, something to tie everything together and make all the movies feel more like equal slices of the same pie.
Of course, I think a lot of people are going to be talking about Michael Peña’s character, Luis. We all have a friend like Luis, who will give you 10lbs of information when you ask a 2lb question and the voiceover flashback scenes were hilarious every time they appeared, stealing the scene. That brings me to another favorite about this entire project, the balance of the humor to action was really well maintained and you can definitely feel the echoes of movies like Shaun of the Dead from the original script.
The fight scene between Lang and Falcon was fantastic, as were all the action scenes and really showed off exactly what Ant-Man was really all about in terms of combat. From everything we’ve seen so far, his style is definitely the most unique of any of the Marvel lineup. Jumping from full sized to insect mode created something that was really fun to see. Even the ants that assist Lang in his missions come across great.
That said, my only real complaints focus on two items. First, who the hell picked Evangeline Lilly’s SAHM can-I-speak-to-your-manager hair? That just wasn’t cute, and aged her so far past her actual 35. It seems like a stupid thing to focus on, but it really distracted me every time she was in a scene. That hair was terrible.
The other, more legitimate concern I had is really one that I’ve had with a lot of the MCU so far, and that’s the villain. While Darren Cross was a lot less McGuffin feeling than past bad guys, he still doesn’t quite make it past the plot coupon feeling all the way. This is something that keeps occurring in these films and I think the reasons are two fold, Marvel doesn’t currently have the rights to some of its best villains and, the biggest reason, we’re being guided towards the ultimate battle with Thanos. Don’t get me wrong, Corey Stoll did a great job in the role, I’m just getting fatigued on the idea of a megalomaniac who is in it for the monies.
But honestly, those lone complaints are not enough to make people not go see this. It’s seriously fun. It has all the charm of Guardians, but it doubles down on embracing the source material. As a lifelong comic reader, that’s something I really appreciated seeing.
Also, when you go see this one, keep in mind there’s not one, but TWO stingers after the film and both are good stuff.