Countdown to Avengers Endgame: Ant-Man
We’re in the Endgame now. Just 9 days to go before Marvel Studios unleashes the biggest theatrical event in a generation (if not ever), capping off a story that is 11 years and 21 films in the making. There’s no denying that what Marvel has done here is unprecedented. As we approach the big day lets take a look back at the films that lead us here.
How preposterous was it that Marvel was making an Ant-Man movie? Even after massive successes like Guardians of the Galaxy Ant-Man seemed so goofy that Marvel even leaned into it in their marketing of the film. The trailers even had Scot Lang pointing out that the name wasn’t his idea (which you can see in the clip below which is also an early example of Marvel including footage not from the film in trailers). Yet like many of Marvel’s previous, “Really?” moments, the studio found success trusting that audiences would give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s easy to forget how much controversy surrounded Ant-Man prior to its’ release though. Edger Wright had a very public falling out with Marvel, leaving the film over creative differences after having spent 10+ years developing it. That wasn’t the only scandal however. Many fans reacted very negatively to the knowledge that the MCU’s Ant-Man would be Scott Lang and not Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man in the comics. The lack of The Wasp also had many Marvel fanboys concerned if not twitter raging. Even Paul Rudd’s casting was greeted with some heavy skepticism.
What we got though was a fun comedy heist film with super heroes in it. While most Marvel films have a good amount of humor in them Ant-Man is different. It feels like a comedy first, a heist/caper film second and an action/super hero film third. As a result Ant-Man (and later its’ sequel) feel different from the rest of the MCU while still feeling like a part of it. Almost all of this is because they went with Scot Lang instead of Hank Pym as the Ant-Man.
Hank Pym is not a particularly great character in, well really any representation of him. The lowest of course being the Ultimate version of Hank/Ant-Man who beat his wife (only to in turn get his face stomped in by Captain America). While he may have been a founding Avenger it’s pretty easy to understand why Marvel was in no rush to introduce him as the lead of their next film. Yes, they could have tweaked the character but to avoid having a movie staring a more irritable version of Tony Stark they opted for Scott Lang, former thief turned hero. This allowed them a lot more flexibility with the character and Ant-Man became a comedy staring Paul Rudd. Meanwhile, Hank Pym was relegated to a Obi Wan style mentor character. It should be obvious from what I just said why that all is a good thing.
When not being a comedy Ant-Man also has a lot of fun with the super powers at play. It is a Marvel film so there are several big action scenes in the film but the way that they used size makes for some very fun and interesting set pieces. Ant-Man really shines in moments like Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket fighting in a briefcase as random mundane objects hurtle past them and an iPhone plays The Cure in the background. The final fight in particular uses perspective in some really fun ways, the most notable of course being the Thomas the Tank Engine scene.
It’s also impossible to talk about Ant-Man without mentioning Michael Peña, who just simply steals the show here as Luis. Calling his role as Luis charismatic is a serious understatement. This movie could work without him but I’m so glad it didn’t have to. Also, due to a lack of really having anywhere else to work this in, Abby Ryder Fortson is fantastic as Cassie Lang and it’s hard to not love her and Paul Rudd together.
When Ant-Man came out the collective reaction was, “Yeah, ok. That was fun.” Re-watching Ant-Man again a few years later I find myself going, “Yeah, that was fun.” Ant-Man isn’t Marvel’s biggest or best but it’s a solid film. A fun super hero action flick, an adequate heist movie and a comedy that has held up fairly well so far.
Things start coming apart though next in the countdown with Captain America: Civil War