Did Marvel strike gold again by putting out a movie with a minor character, that not a lot of people know about? Ant-Man reportedly opened to the second lowest box office take for a Marvel film. So, while this wasn’t Guardians of the Galaxy, I found it really enjoyable. I also think it will turn out to have played a very key role in setting up the future films of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
Hank Pym is Ant-Man, and Giant Man, and Goliath, and Yellow Jacket…at least in the comic books he is. In the film, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is a retired scientist who had developed a formula for “Pym Particles” that allowed him to control the space between atoms allowing him to shrink and grow both objects and people. With his special suit he shrank himself to become the Ant-Man, and carried out covert operations for SHIELD in the 1980s. After an accident causes the death of his wife, and seeing the potential harm that can be wrought with his technology, he quits the super hero/secret agent game and takes his formula with him so that it can’t be used by anyone. That of course doesn’t mean that someone won’t try to recreate it. That someone is his former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) who is coming very close to cracking the secret and creating a weaponized version of Pym’s technology in the form of the Yellowjacket armour. Teaming with his estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and a reformed burglar named Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Pym plans to prevent this from happening.
Now, remember, this is an origin story, so we get a fair bit of exposition and quite a few montages as Lang learns to use the shrinking and growth abilities, as well as mastering his communication with ants. All that being said, it really worked for me. I had a blast, as the movie was light enough to entertain me and serious enough to fit with the rest of the MCU. There weren’t a lot of fight scenes, at least not until the climax really, but that was okay because Ant-Man’s “training” sequences carried the action.
Originally Edgar Wright wrote a screenplay for Ant-Man, which was apparently not accepted or approved by the powers that be, and had to be re-written. Some of his material must have remained as he did get a writing credit for the screenplay that was used, along with Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd. I was a little worried that the film would be too comical with Paul Rudd as the star and with Edgar Wright’s script. Fortunately that didn’t happen, and there was an incredible amount of balance. We got Lang’s backstory, Pym’s backstory, and they both were parallel stories of redemption. Scott is a released felon who wants to go straight and do right so he can get visitation and reunite with his young daughter. Hank sees the potential danger and wants to come out of retirement to set things right, and reunite with his estranged daughter. Piecing all this together with the other parts of the MCU, it just seemed to “click”. That all being said, I’m now very curious to know what Wright’s unused story was all about.
I saw this one in 3D, which longtime readers will know, I try to avoid. This time the scheduling of the 2D versions was terribly inconvenient for me, so I had to go 3D. Fortunately the 3D seemed to work with the story, and didn’t just feel it was there because “everything has to be 3D”. Ant-Man surprised me several times, and I was thankful. I had expected the climax to be either Ant-Man growing giant for the first time and defeating Yellowjacket, or Hank Pym coming to rescue Scott and defeat Yellowjacket. Both of which I still think would have been plausible plots, but I’m glad they didn’t chose to go that way. Mainly because it leaves me hopeful that I haven’t seen every storyline played out and that I can still be surprised.
Watch for Stan Lee’s cameo, it’s another classic, and doesn’t turn up until nearly the end of the film. Is Marvel putting these off until later in the films because they know we’re watching for them, and therefore are paying more attention to their movies? If so, I have to applaud the move. If not, it still worked for me, because I was watching and waiting all along for Stan the Man. There are two “after the credits” scenes, so be sure to catch them both. The first relates to Ant-Man specifically and occurs about two minutes into the credits; and the second, after ALL the credits, ties to the next film…Captain America 3: Civil War.
Bottom Line: For a multi-million dollar company, no one at Cross Technology/Pym Tech ever notices that they have an ant problem and puts down a few traps?