Ant-Man is the last movie in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man is one of those characters that comic heads know but most people have never heard of, but the original incarnation (Dr. Hank Pym) was one of the founding members of the X-Men and is one of Marvel’s many super-genius scientists. Later on there was another Ant-Man, Scott Lang; in the most recent comic series Scott has come back to don the suit and the role again.
Unlike pretty much every other movie Marvel Studios has put out, this one’s release has been preceded by a lot of gloomy predictions. Some are understandable: to anyone who’s not familiar with the character the premise can appear pretty goofy, so all the ‘Ant-Man? Really?’ takes do make some sense. But the other faction of naysayers, the people who have chomping at the bit to call Marvel’s first failure, have been insufferable. And some of them tried really hard to spin the movie’s $58 million opening (which is great for most movies but Marvel’s second lowest opening weekend) into a failure. But fear not. While this one isn’t going to do $700 million it will likely make exactly what Marvel was expecting.
But enough of that. How was the actual movie? In short, I’d call it another win. It was funny, had a good story, and did justice by all the characters in it. The action was good and the special effects with the ants were really well done. Anybody complaining about it is needs to delete their account, period.
What worked for me
The way they worked Pym into the story was perfect. When Marvel announced that Lang was going to be Ant-Man in the MCU, and that Pym would be a mentor to him in the film, a lot of people were upset. But from where I’m sitting they worked it just the right way. Pym wasn’t just the builder of the suit but a former wearer of it, and we got a flashback scene to him in action along with his deceased wife, who was the Wasp and worked alongside him. Look, if Pym is the only Ant-Man you recognize I can’t help you. There’s nothing they could do to make you happy. But for whatever reason they opted for Lang and they made it work just fine here.
Another challenge was coming up with some problem that was both a serious enough threat to the world and solveable by a guy wearing a suit that can make him shrink and grow. And they did that. By setting up the Darren Cross’ Yellowjacket suit (a shrinking suit similar to the one Pym created but militarized) as the project to be stopped they came up with a good motivation for Pym to seek out and employ Scott, and a fitting opponent for the obligatory final fight scene.
And lastly, they needed to properly connect him to the rest of the MCU. The scene at Avengers headquarters, and the guest appearance from one of the Avengers, was excellent and combined with both the final scene in the movie and one of the post-credit scenes to provide a proper road to get Ant-Man in with the Avengers and a nice segue to Phase 3.
What didn’t work
The biggest hurdle to enjoying it is that it’s Ant-Man and not Iron Man or Captain America. You get past that and you’re good. No it’s not as epic as the Avengers, so coming off of Age of Ultron and before both Captain America: Civil War and Dawn of Justice it can seem somewhat small bore in comparison. But that’s it.
Overall grade: 7/10
Totally enjoyable movie, even if you’re not into all the other MCU stuff that heavy. I don’t give it more because it isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to resonate with you for life like seeing Star Wars or the Avengers together on screen for the first time. But it’s as good as anything you’ll see, regardless of genre.