Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
After taking a brief hiatus from watching and reviewing MCU movies––a hiatus that I blame work for––I am finally back to talk about the smallest film the MCU ever put out. Honestly, this film feels even smaller coming off the back of Age of Ultron, the second huge crossover event that Marvel ever put out. To be quite frank, while the Ant-Man films are entertaining, they have always felt like filler to me. They are small adventures that take place in between the larger events: Ant-Man in between Age of Ultron and Civil War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp in between Infinity War and Endgame. Even with that being the case, the movies still manage to be heavily important within the MCU canon. Yes, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a bit more important, but Ant-Man still helped set-up where exactly its sequel––and the rest of the MCU––would go. With importance aside, it is safe to say that this film is far from perfect. However, it is still an entertaining heist flick with a solid cast and an immense amount of creativity behind it.
Marvel decided to end phase two by introducing a new character to the audience: a character that would allow the Avengers to get back those they lost in Infinity War; a character so small yet so important. This character is Scott Lang. I think it was a great idea to have Scott Lang be the hero with Hank Pym as the mentor. It allows for a superhero film where the hero doesn't have to learn on their own. It is also fun watching the MCU chronologically knowing that Ant-Man existed long before many of the heroes we know and love. Even with an older hero as his mentor, Scott still manages to be a very imperfect hero, but that's what makes him so interesting. He's not rich like Stark. He's not a god like Thor. He's not a historical icon like Cap. He's a thief––a criminal––who manages to do the right thing because he wants custody of his daughter. Scott isn't a bad man––he was never a bad man. He's just flawed. As an audience member, it's easier to relate to flawed heroes. It's easier to understand them. Scott is highly imperfect, but that's what allows him to redeem himself by finally being the hero his daughter deserves.
Now, he may not be used to being the hero, but he still manages to have the skills. He can fight. He can do parkour. He's ripped. All of his skills are understandable because we know he is a master thief. He's also really smart, which makes him the perfect candidate for being an Avenger.
With all that being said, Paul Rudd does a fantastic job in the film. He's the perfect comedic actor for the role, and he gives the film a levity that really adds to the small-scale feeling. He is able to pull off the longing family man that is Scott Lang.
Can we also give praise to the costume designers for taking a pretty ridiculous-looking comic book costume and turning into something that actually looks kind of slick?
Yes, Ant-Man is an enjoyable and entertaining hero. Darren Cross' Yellowjacket, on the other hand, is a pretty forgettable villain. He is just another petty villain who decides to be bad because he's, well, petty. He was given the damn company, yet he still holds a grudge against Hank Pym. So, what does he decide to do? Sell his work to Hydra. Hydra! He must not understand Hydra very well. Anywho, he is able to recreate Pym Particles, meaning he is very smart, but we really aren't given any background on how he is so smart, let alone how he was able to convince Pym to give him the company. Hell, Pym even leaves his own company, even though he doesn't trust Cross. It sounds like Pym's fault to me.
On one hand, I appreciate them making Ant-Man vs. Yellowjacket a one-time thing at the end of the movie because it let the heist aspect––which is the best part of the film––take the spotlight. On the other hand, it would have been beneficial for the film to have delved deeper into Cross as a character, for it could have led to a more memorable and opposing foe. To sum it up, Cross is a pretty poor villain in an otherwise super-cool heist film.
Now, I know I said it once, but I will say it again: the heist aspect is the best part of the film. Marvel likes to infuse different genres into their superhero films, and I think that is a great decision. Marvel needs to keep their films feeling fresh in order to keep fans interested. If they get banal (and some like to argue they already have), phase four could be the last. Ha, who am I kidding, these movies are gonna keep coming.
This movie has a heavy focus on elaborate plans. The main heist is so elaborate that there had to be another heist––a heist that takes place within the Avengers facility––done before the main heist. I can understand why the heist is elaborate because, well, I can only imagine how much work must be put into a heist.
Then we have the elaborate plan of Darren Cross, where he goes to Hank Pym's house to kill him, only to learn that something is up and that he must set up a plan to capture Ant-Man mid heist. How he did that is something I will never understand, but at least he knew where the suit was so he could prevent Scott from stealing it.
An elaborate plan that I cannot forgive, however, comes in the form of Pym's plan to get Scott Lang to be the Ant-Man. This is a plan that involved too many people and coincidences, and it should not have worked in the slightest.
With the plans aside, I must commemorate the creative team for making every shrinking sequence look freaking awesome. Scott Lang's first trip with the suit is so entertaining to watch. Ant-Man vs. Yellowjacket taking place on Thomas the Train was a hilarious and creative choice. Going subatomic was a mind trip. Basically, the visuals were outstanding.
Peyton Reed did a fine job directing, but I am really glad that they kept some of Edgar Wright's work on the script. I can only imagine how outstanding this film would be if Edgar Wright would have directed it, but either way, I am pleased with the film Reed created.
So, remember when I mentioned how important this film was? Well, this film doesn't just set up Civil War, but also Ant-Man and the Wasp and Endgame. Without this movie, the quantum realm would have not been introduced to viewers and the Avengers would need to find a new way to time travel. While seemingly small at the time, it is safe to say that Ant-Man had huge implications for where the MCU was heading, and that is something that can only be appreciated after seeing how phase 3 concluded.
Yes, I am a little disappointed that Edgar Wright did not direct. Yes, I think the villain is very mediocre and forgettable. Yes, Hank Pym's elaborate plan that should not have worked is something I cannot forgive. However, I still think this film is highly enjoyable, funny, and creative. The cast is great, and the acting is, of course, superb. Yeah, there are some inconsistencies with the Pym Particles. But hey, not all fake inventions can be perfect. This film is small, and I really just want to get to Civil War already, but I still really enjoy Ant-Man and what it has to offer.
With all of that being said, I am going to give Ant-Man an 8.5/10.
© 2020 Benjamin Wollmuth