The other night, Marvel’s latest movie opened. The first after Avengers: Age of Ultron and it deals with the publisher’s smallest hero: Ant-Man. Can this hero who is relatively obscure hold his water against the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?
Ant-Man shrinks and talks to ants. That’s it. Because of physics that can only be explained by what seems to be suspension of disbelief, the wearer of the high-tech suit known as, well, the Ant-Man Suit still packs a punch that is as strong as it would be if he was a normal size. He’s not super strong. He’s not super fast. He talks to ants. And there I wonder why they keep making fun of Aquaman.
So this relatively obscure hero who was a founding member of The Avengers in the comic books gets his own movie now. Starring an obscure actor who has a cult following from the looks of it named Paul Rudd. In the relatively obscure role of Scott Lang, who is the second Ant-Man. It almost seems like the movie was trying to be as obscure as possible. Oh yeah, and to add to the element of this movie will be nothing like The Avengers, it is advertised not as a straight up super-hero movie but as an entry in the relatively obscure genre of heist movies.
To sum it all up: This was the first Marvel movie I was not super excited to see.
A Small Origin Story
In the movie, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a whistleblower who ended up in jail for a Robin Hood like crime. But he’s being released and he tries to get back on the straight and narrow. Because he has a daughter named Cassie Lang (Abby Ryder Fortson) and he wants to do right by her. However, the world seems to fail him because people with a Master’s Degree in electrical engineering might be desired to fill open positions, but if they have a criminal record, not even fast food chains will take them.
There seems to be no way out for Scott but to turn back to crime. During an elaborate heist, he discovers the Ant-Man Suit. From there on out, he’s being drafted into a world of intrigue, corporate espionage and world domination. And he’s the only one to stop it, because his mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is vehemently against that idea.
So it’s Scott Lang, Hank Pym and Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) as well as several million ants versus high tech security systems, an Avenger and kidnappings.
Not Big on Seriousness
Ant-Man has a bit of a weird history when it comes to development. It was originally announced in 2009 during Marvel’s First Wave of movies, but it never happened for reasons unclear. As such, the movie ended up having two authors and four writers on the screenplay, which is something that usually spells disaster. But it doesn’t really in this case.
At some point, the team around story writers Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have realized that there’s no way that Ant-Man can be a serious movie. Because if he was, he would have to be competing with super soldiers, a god and whatever else The Avengers have to offer. So they went the other way and made Ant-Man something that is a hybrid between heist movie and action comedy.
Strangely enough, this mix of obscure hero, a not overly famous main lead and oddball story works fantastically well. While Ant-Man won’t go down in comic book movie history as a surprise smash hit like Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s still a really good and really fun movie that actually manages to entertain viewers of all ages if you permit your kid to hear the words ass and shit every now and then.
Luckily, they kept the parts that tell an origin story short. So we’re not treated to yet another movie that ends with the big hero being the big hero for the first time. Instead, we get Scott Lang who has his first mission as Ant-Man fairly quickly in the movie and he spends the most time learning his new powers on the fly and working to find solutions to really strange problems such as do not cuddle ants as they will overrun you.
Very Little in Terms of Surprises
The only issue with the movie is the story. It’s straight forward and there’s absolutely no twists. The guy who looks like a villain is Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) and he’s completely unsurprisingly the guy who will don the Yellowjacket suit and end up being the Big Bad of the movie. That’s how most of the movie plays out. Genre-savvy moviegoers know the tropes and Ant-Man plays them straight. As Franzi pointed out, though, this movie is less about surprising twists but more about the when: «In the end, I was just waiting for that tank», she says.
The most surprising thing about the movie is probably the comic relief as the characters of Luis (Michael Peña), Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. aka. rapper T.I.) are genuinely funny with their original jokes. They switch between slapstick and puns, outlandish behaviour and skilled side-characters in a heart-beat. What sticks out is Luis’ way of telling a story, which is something quite extraordinary.
All in all, Ant-Man is a great summer movie. It’s funny, quirky, everything but serious and ends up being two hours well spent in the seat of a cinema. It’s surprising in the way that it’s funny and endearing, but not in the way of having an overly clever and worked out story.
Also, stay until the very end of the End Credits as there is a scene in the middle of the credits and another one at the end of them.
To close this off, here’s a trailer. Ant-Man is airing in cinemas now and you might have already seen it. If so, do you agree with our review? What are your thoughts on it? Leave a comment in the box below!