The twelfth film from Marvel Studios, and the final film to their “Phase 2”, ‘Ant-Man’ really acts as something akin to a palette-cleanser at a taste-testing, albeit one that does more than enough to warrant coming back to on its own.
The reason that I mention palette-cleansing is the fact that we haven’t had a true origin film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, which was fully four years ago now. While that may not seem all that long ago, it was seven films ago, which is more than half of this shared universe away now.
That being said, and despite all the hand wringing online from fans and critics alike at the departure of original director Edgar Wright over creative differences with Marvel, replacement director Peyton Reed really delivered what is a well crafted story about learning how to use power and technology.
Paul Rudd pulls out all of his charasmatic charm in creating an ex-convict in Scott Lang, a character that struggles through the opening act to try and reconnect with his daughter. After failing to find gainful employment and a less than happy reunion with his ex-wife, Rudd’s character is forced back to bad habits, and here is where the story really picks up.
The middle act, of Lang coming to terms to being essentially hired for a big heist and learning how to use the Ant-Man suit and also communicating with ants, is a great mix of humour, action and also drama. It is during this part of the film that we finally learn why Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym retired from being the original Ant-Man, and also why he is so dead set against his daughter, Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, taking over his mantle.
While the final act heads into typical Marvel action first territory, it does so while still managing to keep its, for lack of a better term, small scale family elements, and all while tying in some loose thread plot points from earlier in the film, while also creating some others that we may never see payoff for.
All in all, ‘Ant-Man’ is another great standalone genre film from Marvel Studios, creating a heist film the likes of which we have never seen before, all while giving the spotlight to some characters that will help grow their “Phase 3” slate that starts next May. Paul Rudd is fantastic, the MCU cameos to both open the film and also provide the best action sequence of the film are stellar, and the family backed elements do well to ground the film.
‘Ant-Man’ is a must see for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but does not need to be restricted solely to those people.
For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer, and also take some time to peruse my previous fare. Cheers.