The title Ant-Man is incredibly fitting. Not for the new Marvel release, but for the story about the making of the film.
There seemed to so much stacked against this movie. While the character is a founding Avenger, he doesn't exactly get his share of the fame like his team members Iron Man and Captain America. There is also the small problem of studios not quite understanding that his power is. "Is he a man that is an ant?" He also lack's a good main antagonist; he doesn't exactly have a "Red Skull".
Fortunately in 2003, Edgar Wright(Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) had written a script that Marvel loved. While the film was plagued with delays it seemed that all efforts were focused on adapting Ant-Man to the big screen. Every few years we'd get signs of progress from test footage screened at San Diego Comic-Con to the character actually being cast. Though Sadly in 2014, 11 years since Wright and Cornish started the first draft of the script, they and Marvel released a statement that they were no longer with the project. Marvel and Wright fans were heartbroken. Where did it go wrong? Everything seemed to be on track with a strong creative team and cast that consisted of Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly. Creative differences seemed to be the source of the blame. Ant-Man it seemed directionless and possible suffering from an identity crisis.
With director Peyton Reed and a new script combined with the elements of Wright and Cornish and additions from Paul Rudd and Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights), Ant-Man finally hits theatres this week. So how did it measure up despite all of the drama and set back leading up to its release?
The Answer surprised me.
For those that don't know, the Ant-Man has the ability to change his size while keeping his normal strength. So imagine an ant punching you in the face with the impact of a fully sized man. And not just that he is able to communicate to ants. All this technology is thanks to Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. . Fearing that this may fall into the wrong hands, Pym buries his secrets. However, a young protégé named Darren Cross works to replicate his mentors work and use it for military use. Pym needs a thief like Scott Lang to steal Cross's "Yellow Jacket" suit and put an end to his plans.
Ant-Man is a fresh of breath air for those who feel that they are suffering from Marvel fatigue. Scott Lang (Rudd), while charming isn't big and muscly like Hemsworth's Thor or cool as playboy Tony Stark. Lang is a slender smart mouth with a heart of gold. He's also a dad struggling with his past as a master cat burglar, (Who steals for the right reasons; acts like a Robin Hood) and tries to find redemption and build a better life for his daughter who thinks of her father as a hero. Thanks to Pym, he is given a chance to become the kind of hero that his daughter thinks he is.
While some of the films tender moments may make your eyes roll, this film has a hell of a lot heart that seems to be absent not just from comic book movies but Hollywood films in general. The bottom line is that this movie is fun, more fun than I anticipated. The Ghost of Wright and Cornish are absolutely still present in the film, and it many ways feels like at certain points the film celebrates their style and humor of the script. After all, they did set out to write a heist film.
Which brings up another point. My concern was that this film would suffer an identity crisis because of the film starting with one director and finished by another. This hardly seems to be the case here as it appears that the two have synced up rather nicely and is presented with a strong cohesive narrative. What also makes this film exciting is that this narrative shifts through different genres. It is a heist film while being a family/super hero/comedy film. The stakes in the climax also become startlingly high as their was a moment where I thought that there was no way for our hero to escape.
Nicely done, Marvel. Ant-Man fits in to the same territory as Guardians of the Galaxy. A movie that you thought for sure wouldn't make any damn sense but found its way into your heart.
Also, make sure you stick around for the two post credit scenes. One made my jaw unhinge for what's to come.