Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña.
Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. (Source: IMDb)
Forgive me a nostalgic moment for a second. Ant-Man has some special significance to me as it was the first ever film I reviewed on this site! Can you believe that? I struggle to go back to that review now because I cringe at my early writing but it’s amazing to be coming back to Ant-Man again now, slightly more world-wearied and with a whole heap of hindsight.
I was very positive about the film when I first watched it, and now going back to it I think I would take that down a notch, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable film, and I would argue for it being one of the more enjoyable origin stories in the MCU canon.
In Scott Lang, we have an incredibly relatable hero. He’s a father but also a criminal, and he is desperate to put his past behind him to be a better Dad to the adorable Cassie. His self-inflicted cycle is really quite sad, we see him try to hold down a steady job but his past always catches up to him and he is forced to return to his bad ways. The opportunity to become a “hero” is to Scott the chance of a better life, to do something for good and use his skills of “breaking in and stealing some shit” for good rather than selfish means. For this reason he is a very layered hero, and pretty much just an ordinary guy who is given a suit with extraordinary powers in order to become the hero for his daughter.
It is a little “origin by the numbers” but it is also very charming and really funny as well. After the clutter of Age of Ultron and the serious game-changing events of Winter Soldier, it is much more akin to Guardians; a refreshing and funny change of pace and real palette cleanser in the midst of some much bigger stories.
Fittingly, Ant-Man is a small story and isolated from the MCU it could just be viewed as a superhero heist caper. Something the MCU has done very well is exploring different genres and placing those within the context of a superhero film, and Ant-Man is certainly one of those. However, there are references to the wider universe with the events of Sokovia mentioned and the slight hero-worship Lang has for the Avengers is utilised to comedic effect; something which carries into the next film, Civil War.
The biggest flaw in the film is probably the villain (again!) as it is easy to see the similarities with the Iron Man films. Going down the route of a spurned employee/rival using the same tech for his own nefarious ends does feel unfortunately same-y although Corey Stoll does do an admirable job as the unhinged Darren Cross/Yellowjacket.
The visuals are perhaps one of the biggest strong points however and the shrinking tech provides ample opportunities for great action scenes, unique set pieces, and plenty of comedy. The film also gives us arguably the best side character in all of the MCU in Michael Peña’s Luis, whose hilarious monologues and unwavering enthusiasm are the real highlight of this film.
The importance of Ant-Man (we’re going to come back to that Quantum Realm) only grows over time, so it is hugely beneficial to go back and revisit this film. Also, it’s just a lot of fun and I stick by that. Along with Guardians, it has huge amounts of rewatchability and that is absolutely something which goes in its favour.
As I am planning to rewatch all of the MCU films, I will rank the films as I go and update on each review.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – ★★★★★
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – ★★★★★
- The Avengers (2012) – ★★★★½
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – ★★★★
- Iron Man (2008) – ★★★★
- Ant-Man (2015) – ★★★★
- Thor (2011) – ★★★★
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – ★★★½
- Iron Man 3 (2013) – ★★★
- Thor: The Dark World (2013) – ★★½
- Iron Man 2 (2010) – ★★½
- The Incredible Hulk (2008) – ★★