Marvel has officially ended what they have dubbed “phase 2” of their films with the release of Ant-Man. Yet funny enough Ant-Man feels more in line with the beginning of the next phase. This is the first new solo outing they have had since Captain America: The First Avenger giving the film a unique position we haven’t seen for a few years. Not only that, but just like at the beginning of their cinematic universe, comic fans have been excited for its release while mainstream fans have been more tempered in their anticipation, wondering how good could a character called Ant-Man actually will be. This is Marvel after all and once again they have taken their unique vision to hit a homerun once again.
The movie immediately opens by reminding us that this is part of the Marvel universe by throwing us several familiar faces in the late 80’s. S.H.I.E.L.D. is looking to further weaponize the “Pym Particles”, the fuel behind Hank Pym’s shrinking suit. Pym refuses to let the technology go, severing ties with the organization completely.
We jump to several years later as the notorious thief Scott Lang is released from jail where he has been from taking on his former company. He is ready to put that all behind him so he can spend time with his daughter and help support her. Unfortunately, things are not easy for a former criminal as he quickly finds out finding work is near impossible. Lucky for him, Hank Pym has kept an eye on him. Hank’s former protégé Darren Cross, now running his company, has become obsessed with discovering Pym Particles and taking revenge on his former mentor he feels has spurned him. Needing help to destroy all the research and Darren’s own suit, the Yellow Jacket, Hank recruits Scott for the ultimate heist, turning him into Ant-Man in the process.
It actually is one giant heist film in the end, which gives Ant-Man its own unique feel and place in the Marvel universe. It still has plenty of humor you would expect from them, even a little more at times, and a pretty spectacular Avenger cameo and fight scene connect it to the current timeline. The buildup can be a slow simmer at times, but it adds in plenty of levity and heart to make sure it never feels like its dragging. As always the action scenes are incredible, but even those get big injections of humor that make for some of the best from Marvel yet.
Choosing Paul Rudd as the star was a perfect pick. He definitely gained the physique for playing a super hero, but his comedy chops are definitely what keep the film light. On the same not, Michael Pena does a superb job as Scott’s former jail friend, stealing any scene he is in with plenty of laughs. Would it be to much to ask to make him Giant Man? Either way we would love to see plenty more of him in the sequel.
Michael Douglas does a commendable job as the mentoring Hank Pym though it never feels like he ever has a great emotional connection with the characters. Evangeline Lilly has a tough role in the film playing Hope Pym, as her hardened exterior keep her from being overly likeable. You know they are pushing for a romance between Hope and Scott, but it never is given enough of a chance to feel natural.
Corey Stoll plays a great villain, though we are not completely sure of his motivations. At times they try to play up sympathy for him, that perhaps the Pym Particles have affected his brain causing his rage, but it only gets small mentions. We also do not understand how that could be possible to begin with as we never see him shrink until closer to the finale for the big showdown.
Ant-Man had plenty of trouble behind the scenes and a tiny hero who isn’t the biggest name in comics. Regardless of all that, it still comes out as another great introduction of a hero not everyone may have known they cared about. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s plenty charming. It’s Marvel at it again, doing what they do best, no matter the size of the hero.