Yesterday saw the Digital HD release of Marvel's Ant-Man. I watched it again last night along with the bonus features and decided to write up a bit of a review. Now most of you have probably already seen the movie, so I'm going to focus less on the film itself and more on the Blu-ray and whether or not it's worth owning.
It's hard to judge how the film did without putting it into context of the company it keeps. The film made $518 million dollars worldwide. For most films that would be big. For a Paul Rudd heist/comedy film that would be HUGE. But when you put the lead in costume and tag the world Marvel to the front of the title, it just becomes the ninth highest grossing film for the studio sandwiched in between the first Thor and the first Iron Man. But it was good enough to get a sequel announced and bump a few other films back. We're now less than three years away from Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The film had a different tone than the other Marvel movies as well as being a heist film. Where all the other films seem to be going bigger, Ant-Man was content in going smaller, so much so that the climax of the film took place in a little girl's bedroom. Paul Rudd brought the everyman feel, making a likable thief into a hero we could all get behind. Michael Douglas played the elder statesman and mentor and Corey Stoll brought a true sense of danger as the villain. It is a very good movie with a lot of funny beats that fit I well with the action.
The one knock I have against the film is only a knock when you look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. That is the use of Yellowjacket as the villain. By itself it play well, even if they did take one of Hank Pym's somewhat heroic personas (check the comics for the somewhat) and make it a villain. But when you consider that the Marvel formula for a hero's first film is to pit them against a carbon copy of themselves… Iron Man vs Iron Monger, Hulk vs Abomination, Captain America vs Red Skull and Thor vs Loki… it suddenly feels a bit like cheating. But again, that's only when you look at the MCU as a whole and not just looking at this film.
On to the Blu-ray. The bonus features are pretty good. I'm a bit jaded by the first Iron Man Blu-ray that had a ton of features and followed Jon Favreau through the entire filming process. Here we get a nice featurette talking about making the film, the importance of Ant-Man in the Marvel Comics Universe and how technology had finally caught up to allow them to make the movie. There is another featurette looking at the Macroverse world and the concepts behind it. Another fun thing to watch but a little on the short side. When promoting the film Marvel made a faux news program called News Front to talk about Scott Lang and his attack on Vista Corp. The clips feature Christine Everhart from the Iron Man movies. This is a nice added feature and is another connection to the MCU.
The audio commentary is done by both director Peyton Reed and writer/actor Paul Rudd and they offer a lot of good insight into the film. They explain a lot of the writing process and where different things got brought into the script, how much was already there from the Edgar Wright / Joe Cornish draft, what Adam McKay and Rudd brought in and how much was improvised on the spot. Also things like the fight with the Falcon, how that came to be and how it was decided on that particular Avenger. This was fun to listen to last night while waiting for The Flash to start.
There are also a good number of Deleted scenes that you can see both with and without Reed/Rudd commentary. And there is a gag reel that shows a lot of outtakes and that actors tend to dance a lot on set.
The one disappointing thing to me is there was nothing focused on the characters history in the comics. It was mentioned for a moment in the first featurette… but one of the things I used to love about the bonus features on films like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, etc was they would put together a featurette about the character from the comics. If any company should want to show the strong ties between the film and the comics you'd think it would be Marvel. This is a character new to the majority of the world. A ten or twenty minute feature on Hank Pym, how he was introduced to the world, when he made a costume, Janet Van Dyne, why the costume changed hands to Lang and the real history of Yellowjacket. I miss these features and hope that Marvel will start making them again.
So now the main question. Is it worth owning the Blu-ray or getting the Digital HD download. Well, if you're reading this you are on a comic book / pop culture website already so the odds are this is your type of movie. It is a very good movie and one that not only do I think fans will want to re-watch but one that I think they'll want to share with their friends. The bonus features are fun and listening to Reed and Rudd talk about the film is great for anyone who likes the behind the scenes of films. This is a movie you should definitely have in your collection… unless you are afraid of ants, then you might have a problem.
Marvel's Ant-Man is available now on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere. It will be available on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital SD and On-Demand starting December 8th. A great stocking stuffer for the Marvel fan on your list…