MMT Quick Review of ‘ANT-MAN’ (guest reviewer Darryl King)

ANT-MAN (photo: Marvel)

Happy Thursday MMT Family! Once again, we have the pleasure of gaining insight from friend to MusicMoviesThoughts and Marvel expert Darryl King!  Darryl went to last Monday’s Philly screening of Marvel’s ANT-MAN, which opens tomorrow July 17, and was kind enough to break down the film for us – yes, even those of us who didn’t regularly follow the comics! So according to Darryl, here’s what you need to know about the latest movie in the Marvel franchise,

ANT-MAN… Marvel’s little Big Man!
(No spoiler review)

After much consternation, finally the movie Ant-Man arrives in theatres with much trepidation and anticipation as Marvel closes the book upon its Phase 2 slate of films. Starting with Iron Man 3 and ending with this movie, one could argue that the best of this phase was in the middle (Thor 2, Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy & Avengers 2) but Ant-Man holds its own as the final chapter to one phase and serves well as a bridge to another. Ant-Man as a film is very enjoyable, funny, and much like Jurassic World – the movie provides such a good time at the theatre that you may overlook its flaws. Ant-Man debuts into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) having to carry and address 4 major issues that the movie does overcome:

1) Why Ant-Man?
2) Why Scott Lang over Hank Pym?
3) Why Paul Rudd?
4) The Edgar Wright factor

Ant-Man makes sense for the MCU because he is perhaps the first superhero that appeals to the common man. If you were to poll Marvel fans about what superhero they want to see on the silver screen, Ant-Man would not have been at the top of the list. Examining the superhero landscape, we find it littered with super aliens from outer-space, mutants, or people transformed and given powers by outrageous circumstances. But the Scott Lang rendition of Ant-Man is just a regular guy – a thief who steals a suit. None of us may not get bitten by a radioactive spider, survive gamma rays, or have billions of dollars to play with to make super toys, but we all can put on a suit that turns us from ordinary to super… no special requirements needed. And at the core of this movie, that’s what it is about… a regular guy who loves his daughter, divorced from his wife but is willing to do anything to love and provide for his girl. Scott Lang is a master thief and it’s this gift, and his love for his daughter, that the original Ant-man/Hank Pym preys upon to recruit Scott to help him stop the evil that is about to be unleashed upon society.

Marvel decides that the Scott Lang origins over the original Ant-Man Hank Pym story probably make sense primarily because of the problems of the MCU. If you were to dissect this movie intently, you would recognize that it really is a carbon copy on the original Iron Man. Both of these movies tell an origin story of a guy who has his life changed over a suit of power. The arc of the film shows how he learns to use said power and then defeats the villain – who just so happens to work at the same company. Now if they had focused on the Hank Pym/Ant Man, this movie would have been exactly the same story as Iron Man 1, because Pym and Tony Stark are very similar in character and back story. Saving the overall story of Hank Pym also makes sense because the hole in the Marvel movie timeline falls between when Captain America freezes in the water and the creation of the Iron Man suit. And while the story of Peggy Carter is interest, it is not enough. Marvel’s superheros that fill that time period currently aren’t owned by Marvel (Fantastic Four, X-men, Sub Mariner) so it stands to reason that Marvel needs stories that can pull it together and the Hank Pym/Ant Man story will be used as a bridge in the timeline without making an origin story or period piece. Scott Lang provides this movie the added twist of the mentor-mentee relationship and since he is a thief, this creates a “heist movie” dynamic that was so wonderfully done in films like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job.

That is why the Paul Rudd choice makes sense. To be able to make a superhero movie wrapped around a heist movie requires a delicate vice, and the director Peyton Reed uses humor. The strength of Paul Rudd’s movie career can be summed up as the “thinking man’s” type comedies. No slapstick, vaudevillian, graphic or physical comedy works for superheroes, Marvel has made a living with well-timed dialogue, and it is Paul Rudd’s comedic genius that makes Ant-Man work. This by far is the funniest of the Marvel movies with Michael Pena stealing much of the movie with his well placed role. Rudd sets up the funny moments and pacing of the movie like Jerry Seinfeld in his prime – which helps the audience to overlook another one-dimensional bad guy (Marvel’s Achilles heel), some very convenient plot points, a very favorable ending and some forced tie-ins to the MCU and the next phase of films that this movie really didn’t need.

That’s probably why Edgar Wright left – just like Joss Whedon did after directing Avengers 2 and Ava DuVernay turned down the Black Panther movie. Edgar Wright refused to bow to the overall forced MCU universe themes that the company makes their directors adhere to. For Edgar Wright, Ant-Man was a passion project (working on this film even before there was a MCU Universe). And if the story had been told correctly, Hank Pym and not Tony Stark would have created Ultron and thus a more natural tie in for the Ant-Man character to the other superheroes in the MCU. But with Robert Downey Jr. playing Stark/Iron man so well and iconic, his portrayal basically shrunk (pun intended) the need for a Hank Pym. So then Wright’s focus became the second man who wore the outfit, with a different back story that would lead to so many original ideas yet not seen in the MCU – but the forced ideas and tie-in to the MCU is what we can assume is the reason why a person walks away from a pet project that they loved.

And now that we have gone from Phase 1, which introduced the MCU Universe, and through Phase 2, which centered around the expanding of the universe, the character of Ant-Man successfully passes the baton to a new phase – and perhaps the most important that will define Marvel movies and will decide if we as fans will continue to support them. Overall ANT-MAN is a good movie; as it is not as much a superhero movie as it is a heist/growing into your destiny film. The battles in the film are more mental than physical. The movie is good enough that I just might take some Pym particles, shrink down to size and sneak back in the movies to watch it again!

PS – When you do see it, don’t leave right away – as there are two post-credit scenes that play heavily into Phase 3.

Well MMT Fam, I told y’all Darryl was going to have you properly prepared!  He also wanted to make sure you knew this, “People need to see it in 3D. The effects of Ant-Man going small and enlarging only comes across in 3D, and it is one of the better 3D movies that has been made.”

Alright family, do you feel ready to see the film? You can get additional info at the official ANT-MAN website here, and watch the below trailer. Stop back after you’ve seen the movie and share a comment or two – let Darryl know your thoughts!  By the way, did you notice how he gave all that info without any spoilers? Fabulous!

Until next thought, Thomasena


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