In adapting Ant-Man to the big screen Marvel had one of their biggest challenges to date. The character is largely perceived as a bit of a joke, he is a superhero with the ability to shrink to the size of an ant, hardly the god of thunder now is he. Overcoming this barrier was always going to prove difficult enough so once you add the fact that its original director Edgar Wright left the film, Marvel were left with one hell of a mountain to climb. Wright was eventually to be replaced, much to the dismay of film fans everywhere by Bring it on and Yes Man director Peyton Reed.
Reeds credentials were questioned because of his previous output but perhaps more worrying was how he was going to direct a script written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, both of whom are renowned for their comedic approach. Heavy reworks were done and the final product is surprisingly a moderate success, though it is a film clearly plagued by its production issues.
After the success of last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel have clearly opted to take a light hearted approach to Ant-Man, however there are evidently conflicting issues about just how much of a joke to make it. Because of this the film has ended up somewhat uneven, struggling to balance the light hearted comedy and cliched melodrama.
Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd is recruited by Hank Pym to take over as Ant-Man, a miniscule super hero with the strength of a super soldier, to prevent Darren Cross, a former protege of Pym’s from creating something equally as dangerous as the Ant-Man suit.
The set up is basic enough and it provides us with an entertaining heist movie, but the film is weighed down by some cliched backstories- Pym and Lang both have daughter issues and both of them have to go through the usual steps in order to redeem themselves and win back the love of their families. It is when the film is in full blown melodrama mode that my attention began to wander elsewhere.
Wright’s intentions were clearly to make a fun Ocean’s Eleven/Hustle inspired heist movie and the movie is certainly that, but if you strip away those moments the movie is pretty much straight off the superhero origin story production line and it is easy to see the parts that have been put in due to either fan service or studio interference.
The film is not without its charm and humour though and Marvel have, once again managed to be just about self deprecating enough to be likable. Rudd’s casting, much questioned initially turned out to be inspired, whilst Michael Douglas brings some serious star power and weight to the movie. Evangeline Lily, best known for her role in the hit TV show Lost is entertaining, but her relationship with Rudd is very forced, the two share very little chemistry and their mini romance felt very unnecessary.
If there was one big criticism levelled at Marvel after Age of Ultron it was that the films were beginning to feel too jam packed with CGI, so it is credit to Reed here that he decides to utilise the size of Ant-Man to provide us with some amusing and incredibly innovative action pieces, all of which are very fun to watch.
Verdict: Ant-Man has turned out to be a moderate success- it may not have the impact some of Marvel’s other films have done but it is a serviceable entry into the MCU canon, despite its production flaws it is helped along hugely by two charismatic central performances and some innovative set pieces.