MCU Retrospective: Ant-Man
Welcome back to our Marvel Cinematic Universe retrospective series. We are taking you through each of the Marvel films as the MCU pushes further into Phase 3. Today’s feature focuses on the twelfth installment, 2015’s Ant-Man. Without further delay, let’s get into it.
Having long been a fan of Edgar Wright, and most incarnations of the Ant-Man character, I’ve been following the development of the film since 2006, when Wright was hired to co-write and direct the Ant-Man feature film. That’s right, Ant-Man’s lengthy journey to the silver screen started two years before the MCU started with Iron Man in 2008. Numerous script revisions along with Wright’s schedule pushed the film to Summer 2015. A laughable project to some due to its subject matter, Guardians of the Galaxy was released to critical and commercial success just a year prior, so I had a really good feeling Marvel could make this something special.
As the project developed, everything I heard continuously excited me. The dual storyline (Pym’s heroics in the 60’s, Lang’s adventures in the present), the casting, and the test footage were gold to me. Then came the news in Spring 2014: Edgar Wright exited the project after creative differences with Marvel. Then the crew left as many were continuous collaborators with Wright. Needless to say, my faith in this project waned day by day as I cast serious doubt in the film ending up successful and meeting its release date. I looked on with caution as Peyton Reed was hired as the director, keeping Wright’s take and cast intact while making it his own.
Fast forward to the Summer 2015 and fans were treated to a spectacular film full of heart, Easter eggs, great performances and a simplistic but smaller scale story. The casting of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym was what really made this film work. While Rudd was primarily seen in comedic flare, this role would allow him to become an action hero of sorts while still giving him the chance to flex his comedic timing and dramatic side. Douglas, however, needed no introduction. A long desired and important character for the MCU, Hank Pym needed someone of edge, vulnerability, intelligence and wit to be fully brought to life. Marvel nailed it with Douglas.
Evangeline Lilly was surprising and right on point as Hope van Dyne, giving us everything we want to see in the future MCU iteration of The Wasp. However, the true standout of the film was Michael Pena. Pena’s Luis was comedic at all the right times, saying exactly what the audience was thinking. Luis also helped to drive the plot of the film with his stories being one of the main reasons Lang breaks into Pym’s house and steals the Ant-Man suit. Lastly but not least, Corey Stoll was an effective villain as Darren Cross / Yellowjacket.
The film may have been on a smaller scale than Marvel was used to, but that doesn’t mean its ability to expand the MCU or spectacle of effects was light by any means. For one, the battle with Anthony Mackie’s Falcon in the middle was a surprise to many. Forcing the audience to see that Lang could actually hold his own–against an Avenger nonetheless–was exciting and funny due to each actor’s effortless timing. More important, it also served as a narrative tie to Civil War.
Even the opening scene of the film reintroduces Peggy Carter and Howard Stark while showing how the Triskelion from Winter Soldier was built. Lastly, and the most important part next to The Wasp, was the Quantum Realm’s mention and brief view when Lang made a last minute change to his suit and shrank smaller than usual following a warning from Pym. The important thing here is the fact the Quantum Realm is another dimension, one that ties very easily into Doctor Strange. Marvel could have introduced it in Doctor Strange, or even held off for another film, but they chose this one. Keep a close eye on future MCU films as this will most likely be a part of a storyline soon.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t cite the flawless CGI and technology used for this film. The shrinking scenes alone were worth the price of admission (the battle in the suitcase? AMAZING!) Even the way they were able to digitally create Douglas as a younger man at the film’s beginning was outstanding and creepy to a certain extent. Lastly, you wouldn’t think a Thomas the Tank Engine toy would be dangerous or funny but in Reed’s hands proved to be a memorable part of the film’s third act.
All of the problems surrounding Ant-Man would be production poison to a film but the finished product ended up being a fun, well-acted heist movie. It just goes to show, not everything is doom and gloom in entertainment. Now let’s see what Peyton Reed and team can pull off when Ant-Man and The Wasp lands in theaters July 6, 2018.
Next: Civil War!