One of the best parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its ingenuity.
Previous incarnations of superhero movies were very one note. The superhero arrives. He battles the villain, he angsts, he gets the girl, he lets the girl go, he angsts, he leaves. One of the things the MCU did was vary from origin stories (Spider-Man and Captain Marvel) to redemptive stories (Iron Man and Thor) and even to combining the two and adding additional tropes (Black Panther and Ant-Man).
Ant-Man celebrated its 5 year anniversary on July 17, marking half a decade since the redemptive comedic antics of Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne, Cassie Lang, and more.
Nothing in the MCU is done accidentally, and while people might have been curious and initially dismissive (Ant-Man? A guy who shrinks is getting a movie?), Peyton Reed’s tale of a corporate thief turned superhero means a lot to a number of people. Here are a few things that Ant-Man, and to an extent Ant-Man and The Wasp, brought to the MCU that make them important additions to the franchise and a reason to celebrate today:
It Introduced The Notion of Legacy Characters
Everything comes to an end, and this notion might have been missed by people but the biggest contribution that Ant-Man brought to the MCU was the notion of legacy heroes – the idea that these characters can still influence the world at large. This is done to a lesser extend with Captain America – but Steve Rogers is arguably a modern hero. Peggy Carter, while her actions still influence the wider world of SHIELD doesn’t have her niece take over her mantle as she did in the comics.
Eventually Steve Rogers passes his role as Captain America on to Sam Wilson – who will be taking up the mantle in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but Ant-Man really defined the idea that these heroes can still influence the world of the movies directly. (Peggy should have been in more movies, essentially). Hank Pym is actively involved in Hope Van Dyne and Scott Lang’s careers and Janet Van Dyne’s tenure as the Wasp, and what she learned from her time spent traveling dimensions shape what Scott and Hope do.
The simple fact is that actors get old, want to move on to other roles, and want to live their life. Marvel Comics solved this by passing on the heroes mantles to various other characters. Falcon does take Steve’s mantle as Captain America, and Kate Bishop who is rumored to make her first appearance in Disney+ Hawkeye, both take over for the heroes – moving their predecessors into mentor roles.
That’s the best part of passing on a legacy, the notion that the hero’s actions will be remembered. While Peggy basically shaped the modern superhero movement, Ant-Man actively introduced both the mentor and mentee superhero relationship – something coming into play in future movies – as well as the idea of moving on a legacy.
Ant-Man is Genuinely Funny
Every great Marvel movie has comedy. It has to. Breaking down the bare bones of the MCU, it’s a bunch of people are mutated to varying degrees and decide to cope with it by dressing in spandex and kicking and punching other mutated spandex wearing people. The notion of which MCU movie is the funniest can be debated, but Ant-Man at least comes off as a film designed to be a comedic heist movie.
That makes sense. Redemptive stories play better with a bit of a humorous edge and it’s hard to give a guy who can shrink and calls himself “ant-man” dramatic pathos. Reed and Co manage it, but it can’t carry a film like say Iron Man or Batman. Tony Stark snarks to protect profound emotional issues. Scott does so because humor is his coping mechanism and how could anyone take this seriously – especially as despite being the protagonist he’s essentially the funny guy to Hope Van Dyne’s straight man.
While this backfires a bit in Ant-Man and the Wasp (Scott is reduced to a bit of a third wheel) the guy provides a degree of levity that up until Thor: Ragnarok was lacking in the MCU. As the Marvel Universe enters phase 4 with Thor under Taika Waititi’s capable direction, it will be interesting to see where Ant-Man’s humor and Thor’s humor intersect.
Ant-Man Gave Us Luis
Let’s be honest. Representation in the MCU, especially Latinx representation, stinks. Luis could be a lot more than what he is – and should be given a hero name in his own right. The character has been a stand out thanks to Michael Pena making Luis hilariously funny. The character is Scott Lang’s best friend, head of X-Con Security, and basically a bad ass but it’s his storytelling skills that have left an impression on fans.
The character is so popular that he earned the unique distinction of being introduced into Marvel’s comics continuity, a rare action since the character was an original creation. We’re of the mind he should be given the opportunity to tell comics since his famous “You are not gonna believe what happened so Captain America was there right?” storytelling that has captivated audiences since his conception is hilarious.
As Ant-Man progresses however, it’s time to consider moving Luis out of the comic relief role. Put him in a role where he can demonstrate some serious chops and make him the center of his own story. He’s told so many other narratives, imagine how engaging it’d be to hear him tell his own.
Do you agree with why Ant-Man is a great movie? Why or why not? Would you like to see Luis get more love? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Ant-Man is currently available on Disney+.