Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll
Running time: 117 minutes
Marvel ends off their second phase of superhero movies with what is probably their most disappointing work since Iron-Man 3. Following in the wake of the sheer spectacle that was Avengers: Age of Ultron, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Ant-Man falls short of the extremely high bar set by its predecessors. It’s not that it is a bad movie by any means, it is just that it stands up fairly poorly against the cinematic gold that Marvel usually produces.
Ant-Man is most certainly one of Marvel’s more unusual superheroes to say the least and therefore many people were very much right to be uncertain of how he’d transfer into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The same was said about Guardians of the Galaxy, however the difference there was that that film brought a kind of certain kind of freshness and quirky appeal that Ant-Man just couldn’t muster. Where Guardians brought talking raccoons and anthropomorphic trees into the equation, Ant-Man just felt like it was trying to be just like any of the other Marvel standalone movies, but never quite being able to meet their standard. For such an obscure character as Ant-Man, Marvel really needed to do something quite unique with the film, in order to make his difference to other superheroes seem more credible and worthwhile. Instead what we were given was simply a mediocre tagalong to the main Avengers series.
Superhero movies aren’t exactly known for having very complex storylines, but that doesn’t mean that Ant-Man shouldn’t be criticised for having some very predictable moments. For example, when Scott Lang decided to name one of his ants, he had pretty much given it a death sentence right there and then. Plus it was extremely obvious that they would fail during the hugely built-up infiltration scene, since there was no chance that they’d destroy the Yellowjacket before Darren Cross even got to put it on. The ‘shrinking down to the subatomic state’ ability was also clearly going to come into play at some point during the final fight. After all, they did provide so much exposition and background to the consequences of doing such a thing, it was bound to be used by Lang at some point. Maybe this kind of flawed storytelling is commonplace among Marvel films and I am just usually blind to it, but for some reason with Ant-Man I really couldn’t avoid noticing it.
I think my biggest problem with the film was with its antagonist: Darren Cross. He just wasn’t a convincing villain! Besides from some serious abandonment issues and the fact that he was set back scientifically without access to the Pym Particle, he just didn’t seem to have a real motive to strike out against our heroes. Sure, they suggested that he was pretty psychotic in the first place and gave us the pretty shoddy excuse that the Yellowjacket was having adverse effects on his mental state, but that just didn’t really cut it. Despite his willingness to sell a supersuit to Hydra (which ultimately felt like a name-drop in order to make him appear more antagonistic) and his desire to test on cute little lambs for some reason, nothing shed any real light onto why he became so evil. I just feel that they could have done so much more with Ant-Man’s first rival on the silver screen.
Unfortunately, I genuinely feel that the parts of this movie that made me the most excited were the hints and teasers towards the end and during the mid-credits and post-credits sequences. A subtle reference in the last few minutes to a hero who can “jump”, “swing” and “climb up walls” was more than enough to set off the spider-sense of every Spider-man fanboy and fangirl in the room! The more straightforward teasers came in the form of the mid-credits and post-credits scene. During the former, it was suggested that we will be seeing Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) taking up the mantle of the Wasp, a character who many people have been asking for thanks to her involvement with the Avengers. Whereas with the post-credits scene the focus wasn’t on new heroes, but ones that we are already familiar with: Captain America, Falcon and Bucky (the Winter Soldier). The feud between Cap’ and Iron-Man appears to have grown and it is suggested that his tracking down of Bucky has occurred very much off the record. Whilst Cap’ and Falcon are discussing who they can trust, the latter claims to “know a guy”, that guy being Ant-Man. This post-credits scene sets the stage for Captain America: Civil War to kick off Marvel’s Phase 3 in 2016 and already suggests that people are taking sides.
I want to finish off this review with a few positive words about Ant-Man, after all, it is still a very good movie despite all of the criticism I have given it here. The CGI used when Lang was shrunken down to a miniature size really was something spectacular, especially when watched in IMAX 3D. It genuinely shows just how far special effects have come since the days of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Marvel has expertly used Ant-Man to flex their cinematic muscles and they have at least given the movie some serious flare, even if nothing else.