The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) reaches the end of Phase II, and introduces a new character to the big screen, with ‘Ant-Man’. Like many others, I knew nothing of the character, but a little bit of geeky research will tell you just how important this story arc could be to the MCU. I was looking forward to seeing if this very unique concept would breathe some life into what, according to the disgruntled murmurs, is quickly becoming a tedious franchise. But at the same time, I was wary of just how alien this film could be, which says a lot about the bizarre nature of ‘Ant-Man’ when he can cast an air of normality onto the likes of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Thor’.
Back in 1989, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) secretly develops the Pym particle, which gives him the ability to alter the distance between atoms. In layman’s terms, he can shrink in size and become super strong. Fast forward to the present day, and Pym’s protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is close to replicating this secret technology and doesn’t plan to use it for the good of humanity (they never do, do they). To stop him, Pym enlists master burglar and ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), to don the Ant-Man suit and become the hero for once.
It’s kinda weird seeing Paul Rudd playing a superhero. All I could see was Mike Hannigan, and to be honest, his ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ alter-ego is probably all I will ever see. He didn’t help his case by coming in armed with an abundance of cheesy one-liners and an insistence of being the joker of the Marvel pack. Paul Rudd exudes a certain likeability, which was never in question, but somewhere along the journey, something changed. Scott Lang went from being a character I was reasonably entertained by, to becoming a hero I was wholeheartedly rooting for and one I look forward to seeing again in the future. Michael Douglas, and his on-screen daughter Hope (played by Evangeline Lilly), were a good fit for the tone of the film, but didn’t really offer much substance or depth. There are few things that are more integral to making a great superhero movie, than supplying a great villain. Corey Stoll is entrusted with providing us with such a character, and I can’t help but feel that Darren Cross may have just been more annoying than detestable.
Marvel like to keep us entertained and relatively positive, steering clear of dark undertones and graphic violence, so as to remain child-friendly. After all, a child can’t go to the cinema alone and adult tickets are pretty expensive these days. I knew going into this, judging by the trailers, that ‘Ant-Man’ would surpass all other MCU films in terms of comedic value and that signature Marvel lightheartedness. There was a joke every other sentence, and whilst a lot of the humour had me chuckling, some moments were just too cheesy even by Marvel standards. The special effects, bringing tribes of ants to life on the big screen, were very impressive. As were the various fight sequences and grand, theatrical scenes; a very commendable production. I have to give special mention to Michael Pena, who has divided opinions with his portrayal of the real joker in this comedy-in-disguise, but I personally loved him and found him very, very funny.
If you’re not too familiar with the whole MCU, don’t worry, ‘Ant-Man’ is more than capable of being a standalone film, with only a few brushes with the wider world of ‘The Avengers’. But for those who are completely immersed in Marvel’s franchise, like me, you will enjoy all these references and will be bursting with excitement for what Phase III has to offer. ‘Ant-Man’ may take a while to get going – feeling like another Paul Rudd rom-com for the first 20 minutes or so – but stick with it, the action isn’t far away.
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll