When Marvel Studios was in production to bring Thor (2011) to the big screen, I thought that was by far the riskiest venture they could make because I just wasn’t sure how they were going to translate that character to film. While clunky at times, it was a successful foray into Marvel Comics’ more ethereal characters and properties. When I heard they were actually considering bringing Ant-Man to the theaters, well – I had serious doubts and thought they were getting ahead of themselves with their string of successes. By that time, we’d all seen the proof-of-concept video of Ant-Man shrinking and growing, taking down a group of armed men, but – Ant-Man? Really? It wasn’t until Edgar Wright (2006) was named the Director that I felt that this could actually work. So it’s no surprise that I wrote this off again when Edgar subsequently left the project (2014) over “creative differences”.
Fast forward to 2015. Son of gun. They did it. They actually made a plausible Ant-Man come to life on the big screen with all the humor, action and sensible plotting that has kept me a believer in Kevin Feige’s vision and the strength of the Marvel Studios creative team. It’s no secret they took Edgar’s script, retooled and tweaked it a bit and made it more in line with the universe Marvel Studios is setting up for Phase 3, but even I was a little surprised by how well they executed this movie overall. The addition of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, well – that was a match made in heaven.
Hank, in the comics is in his mid-40’s, so this aging Hank Pym was an interesting departure from what I initially envisioned for the character, but it worked. Scott Lang in the comics is an electronics expert that turned to a life of crime to support his family, was put in jail and when he got out tried to do right in society again. When he found out his daughter had a serious heart condition, he turned back to a life of crime to get the money to pay for his daughter Cassie’s treatment. Breaking into Hank Pym’s home, he stole the Ant-Man suit to take his crime spree to a new level.
The movie (sort of) keeps true to Scott’s origin story while drastically changing Hank’s. Again, this actually worked for what Marvel Studios is trying to set up and paved the way for a new hero and some soon-to-be new characters popping up in the future, if you stay past the credits (it shouldn’t even be a *hint hint* at this point). Ant-Man isn’t really known for his villains outside of Ultron (from the comics) but Yellow Jacket was an obvious and easy choice. Now, if this movie has a sequel, it becomes a little more challenging to figure out who’d he go up against and why, but that’s a challenge for another day.
With all of this said, what I appreciated about this movie was that it really did accomplish what I thought to be impossible. They took the comedy approach to telling this story because having too serious a tone could have bogged this film down in character moments that would have been a little hard to swallow (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012) could have learned from this). However, there were some very serious elements in the movie that gave it just enough heart to help you understand why Hank has gone through such immense lengths to protect the world from his creation, why Yellow Jacket was (in my eyes) a worthy villain, and ultimately why Scott is the hero that was needed to don the Ant-Man suit. On top of that, we get some really hilarious side performances from his partner Luis played by Michael Peña and nice characterization of Hank’s daughter Hope played by Evangeline Lily.
When the world needs a hero, now it may have to look down instead of up.
There are TWO post-credit extra scenes, so relax and chill. I plan on doing a small analysis of these two post-credit scenes at some point very soon.
Even my niece, who I took with me to see this and is more a drama movie lover, thought this movie was worth seeing twice. High praise indeed. Alright Warner Brothers, your move.