Going into this, you’ve got to be a little wary. How can a movie about a superhero who harnesses the power and likeness of an ant actually be any good? Many fans of Marvel’s lineup of films were worried this wouldn’t live up to the epic standard set by previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s one of the most wonky ideas to come from mainstream comics, after all, and the film itself was riddled with behind-the-scenes issues in it’s developmental stages. Well, I’m here to announce that, once again, Marvel’s done it. And I dare say it was a better film than their last, Avengers: Age of Ultron. That’s an improbable 12 wins and 0 losses now for the Disney-owned Marvel franchise. The following review is spoiler-free.
Ant-Man works on pretty much every level. It’s a heist film that likes to keep it’s protagonists on their toes. It’s funny, especially with Paul Rudd in the lead role. The villain, although not Marvel’s best, is quite sinister, and his motives are for the most part understood. The love is intact, as Rudd’s Scott Lang character does everything he does to help out his daughter. And it’s a great film about going from a zero to a hero.
The trailers for the film admittedly never truly sold his power-set to me. I just couldn’t get behind it, despite the obvious ridiculous hilarity that would ensue from being literally ant-sized. The film goes into great detail as to how these abilities could be of use, however. The different species of ant can and do find use for all types of different scenarios. They have a specially programmed earpiece connected to the Ant-Man suit that allows him to create a hive-mind consciousness to allow them to understand and respond to his beck and call. It’s Hank Pym’s original Pym particle that he developed in the 80s with S.H.I.E.L.D. that, in conjunction with the Ant-Man suit, allow size to change.
Another of the film’s most innovative concepts has to be the introduction to the quantum realm. It’s the realm you enter theoretically when one goes so small to be subatomic. We’ve seen a few realms already. Most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy showed us the cosmic realm. I have a feeling this quantum realm will end up being an invaluable asset when Infinity War starts up. Perhaps that’s the only way they can dislodge the Infinity Stones from Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet? Food for thought.
Although this works as a standalone film, we also see why it’s so important that this be a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. The story itself is one on a much smaller scale than most of the MCU films. Scott Lang gets out of prison, and he must do everything in his power to see his daughter again, but inevitably gets caught up in another heist that lands him the Ant-Man suit. It’s the small lines and quips of dialogue though, as well as small easter eggs throughout the film, that prove this works better as part of a larger whole. The idea that this is a world where the Avengers fly around saving the day paints a powerful mental image about how the general public views the superheroic events that have occurred in the past couple years. We even get to see Ant-Man make his first exchange with an Avenger, but I’ll leave you to discover that surprise on your own.
Ant-Man’s biggest mistake for me was Hope Van Dyne, as played by Evangeline Lilly. It’s not a very impressive performance, first off. They made her more of an annoyance than anything. And the obvious budding love between Scott and Hope just clearly doesn’t make much sense, or work, although they shove it in our face anyway.
Some of the film’s jokes fall a bit flat, although most are met with a ton of laughter. Generally speaking, the fight scenes are the most entertaining thing about the film for two reasons. A) the shrinking and resizing was very cool to see done right on screen, and B) the shrinking leads to some of the most weird and unanticipated humor to be seen in the film. It’s here where Ant-Man truly excels.
And as fun of a film as Ant-Man is, much of it seems to be unmemorable. Ultimately I think Ant-Man’s best claims to fame will be in his pairing up as an Avenger in the upcoming slate of films. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. For those wondering, please stay for both end-credits sequences. Big stuff is happening. This is a good place to end Marvel’s impressive Phase Two. Ant-Man will return in Captain America: Civil War.