Somewhere there’s a big joke in all of this, that is if you’re familiar with all the Ant-Man drama over the past year. Between y’all and I, it’s a wonder this movie even got made, nonetheless successfully completed before its official July 17th release date. Now with most movies, there are some behind the scenes drama at play and some moments that may have made producers wonder is this ever going to be made. However, with Ant-Man, not only is this film almost a decade in the making of, but there’s a huge (no pun to the subject matter here) heaping of drama still left on the plate here to be cleaned off. Will we ever find out the official reasons as to why Edgar Wright and Marvel parted ways? Who knows! All I know is that it would make one hell of a two-hour documentary one day, the Marvel film that could have been. Oh well. You know what they say. Big things have small (pun intended now) beginnings, such is the cinematic superhero story of Ant-Man.
Ant-Man is a movie about the superhero of the same name. It takes place in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as our other beloved films such as the likes of The Avengers, Iron Man, The Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. You get the big picture. Would I have had the balls big (pun intended) enough to make a feature film about a superhero named Ant-Man? Hell no! However, just to be fair, I probably never could have predicted the overwhelming success of a talking raccoon or a walking tree either. So like it or not, Ant-Man belongs in our MCU.
Ant-Man, unlike other superheroes in the MCU, is based on two characters, Scott Lang and Hank Pym. You’ll find out why or how that’s possible in the film, but for now all you need to know is that funny man Paul Rudd plays the former and Michael Douglas portrays the latter. And if you’re a counter or a statistician, Ant-Man marks the 12th installment in the “official” MCU series of films. Can you name them all? I just did on my fingers. Pretty neat, huh?
So we have Paul Rudd as our main protagonist here. What’s that all about you’re probably thinking. Isn’t he the same guy from The 40-Year-Old Virgin and I Love You Man? You be your sweet petunias he is! I don’t know about you, but if there was one thing I was looking forward to in Ant-Man besides Paul Rudd’s reported six pack and that hilarious train sequence in the film’s theatrical trailer, it’s seeing how he pulls it off. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Maggie, this is a role a tad bit outside Rudd’s usual. So needless to say, I was very interested to see what he not only has to work with here, but also how he delivers.
Of course there are other stars in Ant-Man too. Inside you’ll find the likes of Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Wood Harris, Judy Greer and David Dastmalchian. However, what’s more interesting to note is the fact that Mr. Rudd actually worked on the screenplay. Now I know you’re probably all wondering how that was possible. Well, give me a paragraph to explain it all. Here goes nothing.
For the longest time, almost a decade, Ant-Man was Edgar Wright’s baby, his lovechild so to speak. He wanted to make this film so insanely bad. He was fixated on making this project a reality one day. You have to at least give the guy kudos for persistence. So as I kind already mentioned, development of Ant-Man began in April 2006, with the hiring of Wright to direct and co-write with Joe Cornish. By April 2011, Wright and Cornish had supposedly completed three drafts of the script and Wright shot test footage for the film in July 2012. Pre-production began in October 2013 after being put on hold so that Wright could complete The World’s End. Casting eventually began in December 2013, but in May 2014, Wright shocked the MCU and fans alike when he up and left the project citing creative differences. However, he still received screenplay and story credits with Cornish. How much of the story is his though is the question I want answered because the following month, director Peyton Reed came on board, while Adam McKay was hired to contribute to the script with Rudd. Yes! Rudd! What a hot mess indeed! That’s a whopping total of four screenwriters band-aiding things together.
To make matters even more interesting, Ant-Man didn’t even begin principal photography until last August. That concluded in December, which in my opinion didn’t give filmmakers much time to work on polishing a finished product in time for a July 2015 release date. However, what do I know? I’m not working in that field so maybe six months is all it takes now, not the three years it used to take between Star Wars films in the past. Haha. To be honest though, the finished product is all I really cared about here, hoping it is good of course. And that’s the real reason why we’re all here, right? Of course it is! You, as much as I, want to find out whether Marvel will continue their hot streak in the MCU or if this is a film you’ll want to swat like an annoying fly (I know that was a very bad comparison to make here). So here’s the deal.
Ant-Man seemingly takes place right after the events of the last Avenger‘s film as the dialogue is references scenes ripe in your mind right from it. There’s also some hints about a wall crawler being out there too so you know it’s fresh. Don’t worry, Stan Lee still makes a cameo in this one too. However, in the end all of this nostalgia is trivial and ultimately irrelevant if the film isn’t any good, but I’m please to report this is a fun one. It’s not as dreary as Avengers: Age of Ulton, but make no mistake it takes place in the same world and even has a post credits scene unlike the last Marvel entry.
The best way I can describe Ant-Man is think of a heist film like Ocean’s Eleven or something like that coupled with the plot in Terminator 2: Judgement Day where the main protagonist sets out to destroy something before it ever fully becomes reality. You picking up what I am dropping? That’s the feel of Ant-Man, and I for one couldn’t be happier because in the end it wasn’t a colossal stinker like most thought it had the potential to be.
So our film involves a man by the name of Scott Lang (Rudd), who’s a thief at play, but ultimately has a big heart, especially for doing right to provide for his daughter. It’s just that he has a bad rap in life being an ex-con and all. Employment opportunities don’t come easy for him despite owning a masters degree. However, he’s the perfect man for Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) to entrust with his secret and Ant-Man suit technology with. Lang has nothing to lose and Dr. Pym will stop at nothing to safeguard his Ant-Man technology and ensure it’s safe from HYDRA and the rest of the criminal world. You’ll learn in the film how the Ant-Man technology, as cool and mind-blowing as it is, could have worldwide ramifications if it ever fell into the hands of the wrong peeps. Unlucky for Hank, his former protege (Stoll) is close to employing a similar technology to Ant-Man, dubbed Yellow Jacket (hence how the villain ultimately takes that name here). This is why Hank needs Scott. It’s a heist! No wait! Could it be a trap like Admiral Akbar once so adamantly declared? You betcha!
What works here is the chemistry and comedy between the characters, especially the antics of the secondary ones such as the always lovable Micahel Pena. You can definitely feel Edgar Wright’s touch and charm here too. Its during such brilliant, comedic moments that you can almost pick out his contributions, but I digress. Ant-Man also has action, but nothing you should leave your kids younger than 13 home over. It’s mostly all punches, kicks, etc. with minimal blood and cursing. A few animals, not real ones, were hurt during the filming of this movie, but I guess you can chalk that up to advancing scientific endeavors in the world.
So what we’re essentially left with here is a caper that’s filled with laughs, action and some heartwarming moments, albeit minimal in that department. It’s not the best that Marvel has to offer, but it’s certainly not the worst either. It kind of falls nicely in the middle. It’s subtle, tame, laugh out loud at times, but most importantly, not the train wreck we feared from everything we heard behind-the-scenes (Paul Rudd really does clean up well) and that fight scene we already talked about from the film’s theatrical trailer. Big things sometimes come in small packages, and I’d be willing to bet Ant-Man punches quite the wallop to your midsection with laughs and enough interconnected MCU goodies to keep you coming back for more (some really nice scenes to be found here with well known, already established MCU characters). Come on? What do you have to lose? It’s really not that bad. Have no fear, Ant-Man will return!