I like Paul Rudd. I think he’s a great actor, a great comedian, and all around swell guy. Ant-Man is a Paul Rudd movie. Ant-Man is not a Marvel movie, or at least it didn’t feel like one. There’s is nothing wrong with that whatsoever, but I’m at a loss to figure out why Marvel would choose it to close out Phase Two. To be honest, it really should have ended with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which was epic), but I’m sure I’m just missing something that Kevin Feige is holding close to his chest.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
So we start with a pretty sweet “long time ago” intro that has our beloved Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in some aged makeup, though not to the extent of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We also get older Howard Stark, played by John Slattery (who last appeared in Iron Man 2), and a computer-assisted de-aged Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Mitchell Carson (Martin Donovan). It was nice; I really liked the early clash with SHIELD. It easily explains Pym’s absence from the entire MCU up until this point.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is in jail. He was arrested for some fantastically amazing burglary and let out after serving his time. He meets up with his old cellmate Luis (Michael Pena), and meets his two friends Dave and Kurt. After an unsuccessful attempt at Baskin Robbins and trying to visit his daughter, he caves and goes after a score, which happens to be at Hank Pym’s house. When Lang later sits down with Pym, and tells him his solution is to “call the Avengers”, I laughed. Lang was right because it’s their kind of problem, but Pym was also right when he said “dropping a city from the sky”. Nice burn.
Things happen and we get a bad guy – Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll). As the movie progresses, we find that he’s a lot smarter than one would have suspected as he figured out everything that was going on and captures Lang. Now, it’s nice to see a villain that sees a few steps ahead, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to like him any better for killing a lamb. Yes, I’m going to get irate about that because it wasn’t cool. I also got massive Honey, I Shrunk The Kids flashbacks as they killed ants and Hedwig’s death ache (from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows) when Antony went down.
The film had some great comedic moments, mostly thanks in part to great writing, timing, and the cast itself, but I think it relied a bit too heavily on that element. The giant ant and the mini-fight sequence was great and the interrupted kiss with Lang and Hope van Dyne (Evangiline Lily), as their romance appeared mostly off-screen was cute. Granted, you’re discussing a man who shrinks and pals around with insects, so you can only get so serious with it. A lot of the character background seemed to be whitewashed, though mostly in regard to one character. For anyone who’s read Ant-Man, they know the less than stellar history of Hank Pym, so putting the focus on Lang was a wiser choice.
When I left the theatre after Avengers: Age of Ultron, I had some unhappy feelings. When I left the theatre after Ant-Man, I was a bit “meh” and felt like I must have missed something. There were the obligatory easter eggs, with Stan Lee’s appearance near the end, a shout out to Spider-Man, and a feature role for Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), amongst a few other ones. Things changed though once I sat through the credits. The mid-credits scene was about establishing Hope as the new Wasp. The post credits scene, though… Now that was worth the price of admission. We get Cap, Falcon, and BUCKY! (Yes, he deserves all caps locks.) We also get out first taste of Captain America: Civil War, with a nod to the Superhero Registration Act. So when Wilson says he “knows a guy”, it sets up Lang’s return for that film.
Ultimately, I still would have liked a bit more out of the film. What that more is, I can’t figure out just yet. I think I might need to see the movie again to be sure to parse it thoroughly. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike Ant-Man; it was funny and I’ll definitely watch it again, though probably not as many times as other MCU movies.
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