Please pardon the pun in the article title, but Marvel Studios has done it again with their latest film Ant-Man. This film suffered through many behind-the-scenes obstacles and hurdles, the most dire was the sudden departure of Ant-Man’s original director, the fan-favorite Edgar Wright. Expectations were low for this film, seriously, a film about a guy who can shrink himself and talk to ants? It didn’t really work in the old Marvel comic books (created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby), so how could this concept translate to the screen?
Well, kudos has to go to Marvel Studios for pulling off another exciting and fun superhero film that leaves you begging for more.
Ant-Man is a heist film that is funny and full of thrills as it tells the story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a cat burglar who has been released from prison after serving a sentence. He’s a down-on-the-luck extremely likeable fellow who just wants to reconnect with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), but can’t catch a break or a steady job.
His buddy Luis (Michael Peña), another ex-con, hooks him up with a caper to break into an old millionaire’s home and rob his safe. When Scott does this he discovers a strange suit in the safe that belongs to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and soon finds out that Pym was testing him.
Pym discovered years ago how to shrink himself using the suit and wants to keep that technology out of the wrong hands. Unfortunately, his protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) forced Pym out of his own company and is on the verge of recreating the shrinking technology. What’s worse is that the unethical Cross is willing to sell the technology in the form of a beefed-up armored suit called Yellowjacket to the highest bidder for military use. Feeling desperate, Pym recruits Scott to don the shrinking suit, use its capabilities to infiltrate Pym’s former company and bring down Cross’ efforts.
This may seem familiar to anyone who has seen your average Marvel Cinematic Universe film (MCU) , but that’s just on the surface. Whereas the other MCU film this year, Avengers: Age of Ultron, felt bloated and choppy, Ant-Man is a fast-moving joyride that has a bubbly sense of fun. You instantly root for the good guys and find it so easy to laugh at many of the gags and jokes. Director Peyton Reed deserves so much credit for naturally bringing the humor to this film and that is due to his comedic film credentials. Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios mastermind, is owed a pat in the back by fans everywhere for helping to not only keep the production going after Wright left, but for finding the right person to direct Ant-Man.
Something as silly as a guy who shrinks and talks to ants actually makes sense in this film… it works! That is because this film wisely chose to use the character of Scott Lang and made the film a very loose adaptation of David Michelinie and John Byrne’s re-interpretation of the character from Marvel Premiere #47-48 (“To Steal an Ant-Man!”) where the concept’s full potential was realized. Ant-Man used his powers in a unique fighting style where he would instantly shrink and grow to normal size, which confused enemies. Well, this approach is used in this film and Wright deserves credit for bringing forth that concept, which thankfully Marvel utilized. These fight scenes were electrifying and breathless because they haven’t been seen on screen before. The closest film that can compare to this is Innerspace, an underrated gem from the ’80s.
Aside from the brilliant special effects and the tight and competent direction, Ant-Man is such a winning film thanks to all the actors who bring their A-game to the film. From Paul Rudd’s affable Scott to Evangeline Lily’s stunning presence as Hope Van Dyne to Michael Douglas who just shines as Pym. He nearly steals the film thanks to his gravitas and unexpected comedic timing. You just buy him as the angst-ridden Pym and as to why he doesn’t like Tony Stark.
Yes, there are references to the MCU and even some swipes against the Avengers. But these Easter eggs (listen for a quick Spider-Man reference!) embellish the film and don’t feel forced. Make sure to stay until the very end of the credits to get an idea of how Scott Lang fits within the entire MCU as the final scene sets up the next MCU offering. Like with the other MCU films Ant-Man is part of something larger, but at the same time it’s a smaller scale film, and that’s a compliment. It gives Ant-Man a more intimate, relatable aspect that is perhaps matched by the Netflix series Daredevil.
The fact that Ant-Man is firmly entrenched in the MCU may seem as detriment to some, especially those that may be tiring of superhero films. But like last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man is a bubbly and pleasurable romp.
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