With each Marvel Studios film, the pressure to be another hit increases. We’ve come to expect a certain level of quality superhero adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With all the movies being connected in the shared universe, it gives each film an advantage. Ant-Man isn’t quite as obviously connected. Some have questioned whether or not it will live up to the established standards. The answer is, yes--Ant-Man was a fun and enjoyable action-packed movie.
As far as movies being connected to the bigger picture, we have seen Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie with very little connection to the others, do extremely well. Like Guardians, Ant-Man focuses on telling its own story in its own corner of the movie universe. Even though the movie mainly takes place in San Francisco, there are some elements that do remind you of that bigger picture. The movie opens with a flashback that really captures your attention. Word of a certain cameo has also been widely revealed. Both cases do serve to strengthen the story and are not merely done to add padding to the movie.
As an origin story, the movie succeeds in introducing us to all the players and makes us care about them. Scott Lang is not your typical hero. Anyone that’s read the comics knows he’s a flawed character. This is made abundantly clear in the story. He’s not a horrible person but is one that needs to redeem himself. Seeking that redemption is what drives him in the movie. He’s not an idealistic hero like Captain America. He brings something to the table and the situation is exactly what he needs to begin his journey. Paul Rudd handles the balance of comedic moments with a bigger focus on the serious nature of the situation. It could be said this is the best origin movie since 2008's Iron Man.
One of the big concerns going into this movie is the level of comedy. It’s no secret that the Marvel Studios movies have their fair share of humor. It usually brings an uplifting atmosphere to the movies but, at times, it can become a little much. In Ant-Man, it did feel like the right amount.
Despite this being a ‘solo’ movie focusing on one hero, we get quite the ensemble cast. They do add a lot to a movie about a guy that can shrink and talk to ants. The movie is essentially a heist story mixed with the origin. At the same time, there is plenty of action and suspense. There is also a heavy nature of loss and, of course, pure evil seeping between the scenes.
The movie also ventures into other themes. We get a great sense of the relationships between fathers and sons as well as fathers and daughters. In the midst of setting up the main story for our new hero, we see plenty of development with the other characters and their relationships with each other.
It's no secret the Marvel movies have been a little lacking in the female characters. Characters like Scott Lang and Hank Pym are greatly fleshed out but it should be noted that Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne has some great scenes.
You can't have a superhero movie without a great villain, right?
Corey Stoll adds a nice mix to the movie as Darren Cross/Yellow Jacket. At moments, he does feel a little like your typical mustache-twirling villain but he does provide a nice foil for the heroes. There are different layers to the character. He is clearly motivated but his attempt at carrying out his plans is a little questionable.
This leads to the visuals. In some ways the shrinking scenes makes it feel like a different and separate movie. You might expect some silly looking visuals but they do a pretty great job making it work without coming across as too cheesy. The battle scenes with Yellow Jacket feel pretty big, even when he and Ant-Man are fighting at a shrunken size.
The movie may not lay heavily in the already established Cinematic Universe; you can see how aspects of this movie will carry over into other ones. There are moments you’ll find yourself leaning forward in your seat to take in every single moment in a scene. You will become aware why this is the “conclusion” to Phase 2 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has a great mix of action, character development, and humor. Each are used at the right moments. Some have said the Marvel Studios films have been constrained to follow a certain formula or are required to have the same vibe. Ant-Man does feel different from the others but, at the same time, you can see how perfectly it fits into the Cinematic Universe. I can't wait to see it again.
And I shouldn't have to tell you, but please stay until the very end. This is a Marvel Studios movie after all.