Ant-Man is directed by Peyton Reed. The film stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, and Judy Greer, and features a musical score by Christophe Beck. This is the twelfth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It started back in 2008 with the release of the first Iron Man film. And now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is stronger and more popular than ever. Uniting Marvel Comics’ most legendary characters in a single unified dimension of storytelling, the series has become the gold standard in comic book based entertainment, staying true to the characters’ mythos and origins, while at the same time not being afraid to mix things up and take liberties with the source material. To date we have seen films that have featured characters like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and countless others. 2014’s release of Guardians of the Galaxy even showed us that more obscure Marvel characters can be integrated into the overall flow of things. The series even dabbled into television in recent years; all of the existing shows are expected to continue, and other series are currently in the works. With a great mix of action, gripping storylines, intriguing characters, and humor alike, there has not been a weak film in the MCU yet.
Ant-Man marks another attempt to bring one of those lesser known characters into the fold of the MCU. The good majority of the characters in the MCU are well-known and have been comic readers’ favorites for years. While Ant-Man is nowhere near as popular as, say, Iron Man or Captain America, the character has existed in the comics, in some shape or form, since 1962, with a number of different characters adopting the Ant-Man moniker. Essentially, the Ant-Man suit allows someone to shrink down to the size of an ant, but to become more powerful in the process. This has resulted in some highly entertaining comic book stories over the years!
In Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym is a scientist who invented a form of technology to shrink himself down to be the perfect soldier – small as an insect, and with limitless strength. An aging Pym recruits Scott Lang, a con man recently released from prison and down on his luck, to use the Ant-Man suit for a heist job to destroy the Yellowjacket suit; an attempt by a former protégé of Pym to weaponize the Ant-Man technology and sell it to less than favorable individuals. Wanting a shot at redemption, Lang reluctantly agrees, entering training with the shrinking suit, and setting out to clear his name with the family he alienated himself from when he turned to crime.
One of the things that has impressed this fan when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly in recent years, is how diverse the individual films and characters have become, yet everything still fits together well in the grand scheme of things. Ant-Man is part heist film, part family drama, part urban comedy, and part action and science fiction. None of these elements should go well together, but Marvel Studios has once again proven their worth. The final product is another one worth seeing.
Ant-Man is another film that manages to stand strong on its own, yet still ties into the remainder of the Marvel Cinematic Universe well. Fans who have seen the other movies will recognize familiar faces and organizations, and there are quite a few references of the sort throughout, including an unexpected fight scene that is bound to amuse viewers. The new faces are welcome additions to the MCU, feeling unique but never out of place throughout it all. This could very well be the most diverse cast of new additions to the series so far; it will be interesting to see these faces returning for the inevitable future MCU films.
The ability to combine various genres into a single film is demonstrated well in the form of Ant-Man. The more urban, comedic elements were what really helped this one to stand on its own against the other Marvel films. A former cellmate of Lang’s, played by Michael Peña, steals every single scene he is in; I saw this film in a crowded theater and there was not a moment this guy was on screen that did not have the audience in stitches. These fellow “heist team” guys help to give the movie that unique feel, but they are not in the movie so much that their presence grows tiresome or unwelcome. Some may argue that the film is a little TOO funny at times, but the dramatic weight is still there and never feels far away, largely in the form of a subplot involving Lang and his estranged wife and daughter.
Of course, the film does not skimp on the action, adventure, and science fiction elements that make the Marvel Cinematic Universe the best in modern day cinematic entertainment. As Ant-Man’s ability involves using the technology to shrink, we get some of the most inventive sequences seen in these films so far, largely due to the titular character using technology to guide insects and aid him in the heist being planned. There are not as many traditional “battle scenes” here as in some of the other more recent MCU movies, but the film makes up for it in spades with its inventiveness and the ways that it breaks away from the mold in this context. When these scenes do appear, the “shrinking” element puts an interesting new twist of them. Much of this feels insignificant compared to the scale of battles in other Marvel films, but again, that is just something that helps to give this particular film its own sense of identity.
The film is not perfect; as usual the villains are largely the forgettable and interchangeable “villain of the week” types, but at large the movie still gets the job done and then some. Despite its shortcomings in a few areas, Ant-Man will leave fans wanting more. A mid-credits and post-credits sequence hint at the possibility of a sequel, and of course, the future of the MCU at large.
Rudd’s performance as the titular hero, the unexpected comedic elements, and the inventive “shrunk down” action sequences help Ant-Man to stand on its own in a fictional universe already filled with larger than life plots and personalities. Fans of Marvel comics or the Cinematic Universe should be more than satisfied with the way Ant-Man turned out.
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