Earlier in the year, us comic book fanboys got to witness the Avengers take down an army of evil robots. Next year we get to witness the first proper adaptation of Deadpool, a new X-Men movie, Captain America: Civil War, which includes Spider-Man and Black Panther, and Batman fighting Superman. But as for July of 2015, us comic book fanboys get to witness.... Ant-Man, because I don't see why not? To be fair, I've always liked the character of Ant-Man. In my opinion, he's an underrated superhero, and it looks like his time has finally come to enter the mainstream.
While the Avengers are off doing their own thing, this film focusses in on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief and a father who's trying to redeem himself after being released from prison. That's when Scott is approached by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist formally known as Ant-Man. Hank comes to Scott with an offer. An offer that'll pay off big time. Low on cash and in desperate need to support his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), Scott agrees to work with Hank, attempting to steal back Hank's technology from Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who's using it to create weapons. Y'know, the usual bad guy stuff.
Ant-Man is a film that knows what it is and it plays off of that. Sure, all the jokes from the trailer where the concept of Ant-Man gets made fun of is completely out of the picture, but that doesn't mean the film's sense of self awareness is too. The film is fully self aware, putting its characters to full use and making the most of their potential. Their personalities are down pat, and the performances are even better. Like most actors in the MCU, these actors were born for these roles, and I couldn't be happier with how the casting turned out.
I am a comic book reader. I love them. When looking at all three incarnations of Ant-Man, the only one I haven't read much about is Scott Lang, so going into this film I didn't really know where his character was going, aside from the obvious fact that he'll be appearing in Captain America: Civil War next year. Just like with last year's Guardians of the Galaxy, this played to my advantage, and the result was completely enthralling. He felt fresh, rather than someone I know almost everything about. It's Marvel doing something new.
But that's this whole film. This entire thing is Marvel doing something new. Ever since Iron Man, Marvel has been taking giant risks, the biggest one so far being the shared universe. With every new film, they continue to take more and more risks, especially with last year's Guardians of the Galaxy, and oh how I regret giving that a mere 3.5 stars. It deserved so much more than that. But back to Ant-Man. Marvel took a leap, taking a character not a lot of people care about and turning him into someone we're going to love, and it works really well.
The plot is so unlike-Marvel, choosing to do a heist movie rather than an end of the world-type scenario. The formula was getting familiar and people were starting to pick up on that. So now we have Ant-Man, and although the plot is very un-Marvel, that doesn't necessarily make it new. It's the same old plot we've seen in dozens of other movies, except this time around it adds a superhero twist to the whole thing, but that doesn't stop it from feeling a bit 'been there, done that.'
Despite a familiar narrative, Ant-Man can still kick ass, and the action sequences in this film prove just that. They're not as frequent as the other Marvel movies, but when they're on it's hard not to be entertained by them. Seeing Ant-Man shrink and grow to punch people in the face is a constant blast, and the camera is used not only to make the scene look cool, but also to add another element of humour to the whole thing. Plus, it helps when the visual effects are practically flawless.
An element of this movie that I wasn't expecting was its heart. It's no tear-jerker, but it does manage to tangle its way into our hearts. Although the final outcome of everyone's relationship with each other can be seen a mile away, it adds a layer to the film that was missing from films such as Age of Ultron. That film was a visual representation of its robotic antagonist, and the result is far from perfect. I'm not saying that this is a perfect movie either, but I am saying that it knows how to be touching, so what else could you possibly want? An original story? An even sinister villain? The trailers to not ruin the whole plot? Good point.
I'm sure you're all aware of this already, but Ant-Man had a bit of a problematic pre-production, with Edgar Wright departing after years of work on the film. While I can only imagine how much better this film would've been if he was still at the helm, the current version is pretty damn good as well. Not every joke hits and plot-wise it's very predictable, but it's still an exciting and absolutely hilarious superhero film, and it ties into the MCU in more ways than you would expect. This film is just a lot of fun. It may not be Marvel's best, but it's a welcome entry nonetheless.
To sum up, Ant-Man has to work hard to earn its fanbase, unlike all but one of the Marvel films that came before it, and it does a damn good job at doing so, creating an entertaining, hilarious and exciting movie with plenty of pulse pounding action and a lot of heart.
3 1/2 Stars