The Marvel Cinematic Universe really tries to cover as many genres as it can, all while still sticking with a superhero aesthetic. For example, Captain America: The First Avenger is a war drama, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller, and Guardians of the Galaxy is a space comedy. So really, it’s not that big a surprise that Ant-Man would be a heist movie. And despite some behind the scenes shakeups, this is a comedy that has that that Mr. Edgar Wright humor all over it.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an ex-con who would do just about anything to get into the good graces of his daughter, Cassie #1 (Abby Ryder Fortson). He accepts a job to steal from eccentric billionaire Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) but the job turned out to be a test to see if he’s capable of being the new Ant-Man. See, Hank’s company was taken over by the unstable Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) who wanted to weaponize Pym particles, a substance that changes the distance between atoms–basically it can make you shrink or grow. Hank used to be Ant-Man but can’t now, and he refuses to let his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), even try. The job is to steal Cross’s Yellowjacket armored suit and destroy all of his research. Eventually tensions between Hope and Hank reach a point where he finally tells her how her mother, Janet, died in the line of duty as the Wasp. I’m sure she’ll stay dead. Anyway, Scott gets his lovable loser friends (Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, and Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris) to help in the heist but of course things go wrong, leading to a fight between the new Ant-Man and Yellowjacket. Scott has to enter the quantum realm–a place where time and space have no meaning–in order to defeat Cross, but Scott’s love for his daughter enables him to come back.
The mid-credit scene is Hank showing Hope a prototype costume for the Wasp, indicating she’ll suit up next movie. The post-credits scene is a clip straight from Captain America: Civil War, setting up Scott’s role in that movie.
Edgar Wright was the original director for this film. If you don’t recognize the name, he’s the man behind Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver, and the criminally underrated Spaced TV show. Though he left over creative differences–word is that Marvel is very controlling about what its filmmakers can and cannot do and that can cause a clash of egos–but he’s still credited as writer and his comedic timing is felt in the final product. I think this is my favorite of the overtly comedic Marvel movies!
…but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few quibbles. This movie is a perfect example of a problem a lot of the MCU films have: undercutting touching or tender moments with comedy. At the end of the film, Scott has come to develop a mutual respect with his ex-wife’s fiancé, a cop who had chased Scott throughout the movie. So that’s kind of a big deal! But it’s two dudes being vulnerable with each other, so we have to crack a joke. Earlier, when Hank makes a connection with his estranged daughter, the moment is immediately undercut by Scott commenting on how touching it is, making things awkward. Now, this isn’t always the case–Guardians of the Galaxy opens with the main character’s mother dying of cancer and that tragic moment isn’t followed by a joke, but that’s a painful death versus characters bonding. A bit apples and oranges, really, but still.
COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! So Hank Pym in the comics is… a little different than he is in the movies. Yeah, he’s a genius who invented Pym particles, but his mental state isn’t the best. Hank’s the one responsible for creating the comic book Ultron, who first appeared in Avengers #54 (1968) under the guise of the Crimson Cowl. Pretty soon after that in Avengers #59 (1968), Hank had a schizophrenic episode where he changed his hero name to Yellowjacket and convinced the Avengers that he was a completely different person who had killed Hank Pym. I’d say that it went over about as well as you imagine, but Janet Van Dyne married him during that episode. His mental state got worse over time, coming to a breaking point in the infamous Avengers #213 (1981). Suspended from the team for reckless behavior, Hank decides the best course of action is to build a robot that only he can defeat, send it to fight the Avengers, and then show up to save the day and win back their good graces. Janet thinks this is a bad idea and Hank slaps her, giving her a black eye. Apparently this was a behind the scenes miscommunication as writer Jim Shooter planned the slap to be accidental, but artist Bob Hall didn’t get that memo. It was too late to change it, so the story ran with Hank being an unstable abuser. He was kicked out of the Avengers, got divorced, and oh, yeah, the robot plan didn’t work, either. And now he’s currently kind of dead? He physically fused with Ultron in Avengers: Rage of Ultron #1 (2015), and since then Ultron has been in control with no real signs that Hank survived the merger.
Next: Captain America: Civil War
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