Ant-Man is Marvel’s second entry into its mega-continuity this summer. The first was The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now as fans of the comics know there are two Ant-Men. The first is Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, who invented the technology that allows people and things to shrink down to insect size, while retaining their full size strength. He is also able to control ants. Back in the ‘80s, Pym and his wife Janet Van Dyne would run missions for S.H.I.E.L.D. until Janet was lost. Pym never got over this and retreated from life withdrawing from everyone, including his daughter, Hope. Then he lost control of his company and the new board of directors sought to weaponize the tech. Pym resigned, taking the secret of his technology with him.
Now Pym’s old assistant, Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll, is running the company and is on the verge of rediscovering the shrinking tech. What’s more he wants to sell it to HYDRA. Pym must stop him. He has an ally in his daughter, Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly, who is Cross’s assistant and has recognized the danger in what Cross is trying to do. Pym also recruits Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, a small time burglar who eschews violence and only picks deserving targets, companies that cheat poor people or pollute, for his crimes. Lang wears the shrinking suit.
So Ant-Man becomes a heist movie. I think they were trying for a light-hearted tone closer to Guardians of the Galaxy than the latest Avengers or Captain America entries. Unfortunately they don’t quite succeed. This film had a troubled production history, originally having been the idea of Edgar Wright, a British director who specializes in comedies. He still gets top screenwriting credit on the film. He left, citing “creative differences” before principle photography began and Peyton Reed took over. The assumption is that Wright chafed under Marvel’s insistence that the film fit into the larger universe of its superhero franchise. It is difficult not to wonder what the film would have been like had Wright stayed. As it is the tone is somewhat uneven. The pace flags, especially at the beginning where it takes forever for the main story to get going. Scott’s entry into Hank Pym’s world is way too complicated.
That being said Paul Rudd is a gifted comic actor who has tons of charisma. It’s almost impossible not to like him.
The script isn’t bad, except for the aforementioned pacing problems. It makes the shrinking technology, which is from one of the sillier sections of Marvel’s manual of comic book science, almost believable. The characters are drawn well enough with proper and sympathetic motivations. Some of the nods to the Marvel universe feel tacked on, however.
I think I’ve spotted a pattern in these things. The first film in the series, like Captain America or The Avengers, is lighter in tone and then things get more serious in the sequels. If this happens with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Ant-Man 2, I think it will be confirmed.
In the meantime, Ant-Man is a decent summer film, although probably a lesser entry into the Marvel movie universe.


1 Response to “Ant-Man”

  1. 1 Thomas Van Horne July 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    I liked the film rather more than you did — this is not Iron Man 2 or Thor: Dark World, or even Avengers: Age of Ultron — much more fun. Really my only issue with the whole film was the degree of mustache twirling on our villain — other than that I thought it was a terrific ride. Faith loved it.

    I especially loved the clever use of the shrink/grow stuff for comic/adventure beats late in the film. Oh and it was a bit annoying to hear everybody call Henry Pym “Hank”. It’s a nickname, generally used by close friends.

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