MILD SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN FOLLOW:
For a hero with as small of a fan following as Ant-Man, the character did not have any lack of controversy in his journey to the big screen. After year’s of being developed by the comedic genius: Edgar Wright, Marvel Studio’s and the director parted ways over creative differences. All of sudden what looked to be maybe the most unique upcoming film of the MCU slate was suddenly shrinking in public interest. Even more concerning, it was the second time in many years that a Director had to leave a Marvel Studio’s Production over creative differences, following Patty Jenkins departure from Thor: the Dark World. Despite James Gunn success with Guardians of the Galaxy this left fans wondering how much of a creative stamp a director was allowed to leave on a MCU project? So it was ironic when Disney/Marvel brought in a the man behind the Jim Carrey comedy Yes Man to takeover for Edgar Wright on the project. Thus posing the question: could Ant-Man deliver the unique comedic goods comic fans associate with the Scott Lang version of the character, and make the small character appealing to audiences world wide?
Whatever Ant-Man lacked in comedic timing it more that made up for with the heart and emotional stakes! While it has a lot of the elements of people love with their Marvel film’s these days from MCU world building to endless quips, this film transcends itself. Because rather than focusing on saving the universe the focus is on Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) redemption story and his mission to save his relationship with his daughter, after some justified criminal mistakes from his past. This gives Ant-Man a relatable human element that a lot of the Marvel Studio’s films have lacked thus far. To accomplish this you have to give the film makers credit for choosing to make Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) our primary Ant-Man over Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). While comic readers have a love hate relationship with Pym, one of the founding members of the Avengers, it was refreshing not to see another genius level IQ focused on heavily in the MCU. Instead the film pulls you back by the heart strings giving you an aging Pym portrayed by the legendary Michael Douglas to serve as a mentor to Lang, but ultimately that mentor-ship pales in comparison to Pym’s (Michael Douglas) goal of rebuilding his own relationship with his daughter: Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Marvel Studio’s head: Kevin Fiege has to be applauded for allowing Ant-Man to be a movie about father’s being good to their daughters, rather than stopping another giant beam of light from the sky.
That being said, Ant-Man was not just a giant sap fest, there were plenty of destruction, comedy, and post credits goodies to make this movie Marvel Studio’s worthy. A lot of this was made possible by Marvel finally providing us with an interesting villain in one of it’s solo superhero film’s in the form of Cory Stroll’s Darren Cross AKA the Yellow Jacket. While his motivations of greed may be a bit generic, the gravitas that Stroll brought to the role combined with his breathtaking Yellow Jacket suit make him stand out above previous on screen Marvel Villains. Seeing the Yellow Jacket Armor in Action against the Ant-Man was of the most fascinating things we have seen in any Marvel film to date. As the two men battled through the the sky and key holes all culminating in one of the best MCU boss fights to date on a Thomas the tank engine train set. That train set piece combined with strong comedic relationship between the likes of Paul Rudd, Michael Pena, and T.I are elements that will make true cinephiles rest easy at night knowing that Edgar Wright still left his signature stamp on this film.
Overall what elevates Edgar Wright and Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man to being one of the best Marvel Studio films to date, is that it is one of the best superhero origin stories ever told on screen. While many still hold Jon Favreau’s original Iron Man as the gold standard of the MCU and origin stories, Ant-Man deserves to be in that conversation. Why? Because the film manages and pull off heartfelt origins for both of the Ant-Men: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), all while avoiding origin story fatigue.
Please let us know what you thought about Ant-Man in the comments below!