The twelfth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-man, had an interesting and unsettling turn of events in May 2014. For three years, British filmmaker Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), worked with Marvel Studios as director, to help conceptualise and bring Ant-Man – a size-altering burglar – onto the big screen.
Despite Kevin Feige stating that they had their perfect director for the project, Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios abruptly split, citing creative differences. The script had been written by Wright and Joe Cornish, but the film was handed over towards Peyton Reed. Ant-man truly had a chance to transgress the superhero genre but instead we were now being treated to the same director of The Break Up and Bring it On.
Nonetheless, it appeared that all the other pieces of Ant-man were put together nicely. Paul Rudd was cast alongside Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, and it seemed that Rudd might just be the perfect choice for the hapless cat burglar, Scott Lang. The film also retained the original script from Joe Cornish and Wright, and it can be argued that Marvel Studios haven’t necessarily made a bad film yet (Iron Man 3 was superb, ingrates).
As it turns out, Marvel Studios have managed to have another hit on their hands. Regardless of Wright’s departure, Peyton Reed and Marvel have produced one of the finest instalments in the MCU yet. There are a number of reasons for this, but after the average Age of Ultron (which felt like a yet another step towards a bigger event), Ant-man feels like its own movie.
It doesn’t transcend the superhero genre, but it perfectly mixes comedy and action into one delightful mix. Edgar Wright’s imprint has been left here, and that’s a telling sign with the final fight sequence, which holds the medal for one of the funniest moments in the entire MCU.
As if anyone had any doubts, Paul Rudd effortlessly plays the character of Scott Lang. He’s not the most empathetic character ever, but his love for his daughter, charisma and technique all make for an interesting lead. Evangeline Lilly also shakes off any bad memories of her past career as Hope, the daughter to Michael Douglas’ character, Hank Pym.
One of Ant-man’s key strengths is its storytelling. Exchanging floating islands of death for a more character driven storyline, Ant-man proves that sometimes less is more. Providing a tighter focus on family relationships, Ant-man feels like it has more weight to it. The stakes are high, but it’s not done in an obnoxious manner. The story progresses seamlessly throughout, as the two-hour running length smoothly passes by.
Thankfully, the CGI is almost flawless. Everyone remembers Honey I Shrunk the Kids and its great set pieces, but Ant-man is on another level. Utilising different sizes in a blink of an eye, Ant-man somehow manages to pull it off perfectly. It doesn’t appear as being unbelievable, even when Ant-man is riding his favourite flying ant. That’s commendable.
Whether Ant-man clicks with some audiences’ remains to be seen, but for fans of Thomas the Tank Engine, they’re really in for a treat. It might just be the most fun had with a Marvel movie since Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a welcome change. Too many superhero movies nowadays are downtrodden and laden with darkness and drama, so it’s a pleasure to see Ant-man provides something different.
What’s next for Ant-man? His team up with The Avengers is inevitable, and here’s hoping they flesh out Scott and Hope’s characters even further. They’re the most interesting bunch in the MCU, and they can easily hold their own. Ant-man succeeds at being a breath of fresh air, which is rife with comedy, action and ants.