There is a lot of trepidation about some of the current movies in production right now. The Fantastc Four has been rumored to be a trainwreck but the latest trailers are helping turn that opinion around. The same thing is going on with Batman v Superman as the negatives from Man Of Steel are kept in mind when viewing the Comic-Con footage.
But one of the films fans were most cautious about was Ant-Man. Yes, this is a character that help found the Avengers… and the subsequently changed his name to Giant Man shortly after. There was also the fact that fan favorite director Edgar Wright has been working on the project for 8 years before he and Marvel parted ways, leaving most to fear what was going to happen next. Then the movie was put into the hands of director Peyton Reed, writer Adam McKay and star Paul Rudd…
This is a unique film in the Marvel Cinematic universe. It's their first Legacy film. Rudd plays Scott Lange, the second Ant-Man while Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, the first and the creator of the technology to shrink objects. Okay, what he figured out was a way to decrease the distance between molecules allow for objects to shrink. You've got to love movie science.. but I digress. This is the first movie that is a hand off of a costume/hero from one to the next. It's also a family film in that it has strong portrayal of two parallel father-daughter relationships. And on top of all that, it's a heist movie which Marvel hadn't tried yet.
Now without going in to too much details and trying to avoid spoilers… here are some of the things I think the movie got right.
1) The tone – this film balances between comedy, drama and action in a way not done since the first Iron Man. The humorous moments almost all work and the serious moments never seem too much or out of place. And when it was getting close to too serious.. a comedic beat would bring it back.
2) Casting – starting with Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. He brings a depth and presence that works perfectly for an older Pym, something needed since most of the main characters look to him as a mentor. Paul Rudd as Scott Lange works as the every man thrown into an amazing situation. Having been a cat burglar he is used to tense situation and with the lighter tone his comic timing is well used here. And Corey Stoll as Damien Cross / Yellowjacket is one of the better villains in the MCU. You get him, you understand what makes him tick and he doesn't feel like he's there just because a bad guy is needed.
3) Effects – You start the movie looking at a scene with Michael Douglas looking like he had just filmed Basic Instinct. It's flawless. That scene makes everything else work and that scene only works because you believe that is a younger Hank Pym. Then later, the action scene in Pym Tech where Ant-Man is being shot at and running across a model building… we've seen the shrinking movie effects so many times over the years, but never like this. Bullets the size of Buicks whizzing by him. And the final fight scene between the two size-changing characters is great… but could have used maybe one or two less comic beats to keep the action going.
4) Ties to the MCU – Going into the film I thought it would pretty much be a stand alone and then we'd tie it in during the post-credit scenes and then bring Ant-Man into Captain America: Civil War. But this movie is grounded in the MCU from the start. This is a world where SHIELD has been around for years and The Avengers exist. But the scene with… the guy trying to protect that place… showed us not only how well Ant-Man works in a fight but also gives us more of… that guy… who we all love and want more of anyway. (Okay, that was awkward wording but no spoilers.)
5) Family – The thing I liked most about the story is it did the family drama aspects without the stereotypes. The ex-wife isn't horrible, the new boyfriend isn't a jerk… overall. And a father's desire to protect their daughter… whether their children or adults… or even step-daughters… is very strong. And even the family dynamic among Scott's crew worked.
At this point their projecting Ant-Man to make between $55 and $60 million this weekend, which is a good amount for a lot of films but modest for a Marvel Studios production. But this movie has legs as they say. And I think the word of mouth will build and the movie will do fine.
Ant-Man has a big heart and an even bigger punch.