MARVEL Studios launches another new franchise. Once again they select a lesser known property to pluck from obscurity – ANT-MAN. So… Big question? Does that make you go “Hmmm,” or “Huh?”
ANT-MAN can shrink to the size of an, um… ant. And like an ant he’s super strong. He can also control, um… ants to, you know, do his bidding. His intelligence is his main weapon, or it was. The original Ant-man was HANK PYM, a founding member of the original AVENGERS in the comic books. He made a suit (not made of iron) making him super-powered. Besides shrinking down to a microscopic size he can also grow massively huge… just add a “G” and an “I” to the title and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know if the movie will go there. But it dang well should. Maybe that was a special reveal for later that I just ruined. Oops. Actually, I’m sure that point will do what I intended… get you more excited for this movie.
While many movie fans were unfamiliar with IRON MAN when that film debuted, I knew of him like millions of other nerds did. I think most comic book fans wouldn’t think Tony Stark was that risky to develop for the silver screen. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, for me, was the first risk taken by Marvel. I heard of them at that time, but never read an issue. I knew more about NOVA and the Space Corps than STARLORD or GROOT. None of that mattered once the trailer debuted though. Once I saw that I needed to know more. I didn’t go out and research them like any good nerd should. Rather I took that opportunity to be surprised.
It’s rare for a nerd to not know that much about these superhero properties. I suppose it’s getting to that point though. Marvel has already adapted all it’s most well-known heroes and some smaller ones like BLADE, GHOST RIDER, FANTASTIC FOUR, DAREDEVIL, and PUNISHER. However, now Marvel has a huge challenge ahead of them. They will have new characters popping up everywhere like AGENT CARTER, ANT-MAN, SCARLET WITCH, QUICKSILVER, a new FANTASTIC 4, BLACK PANTHER, DOCTOR STRANGE, JESSICA JONES, a new DAREDEVIL, and maybe a few more (on NETFLIX alone). What’s left for the Universe before they do all the dreaded upcoming reboots in like 5 years? They’ll still have massive crossovers like the comic books with CIVIL WAR and the INFINITY GAUNTLET. But the dilution point is nearing – where there is so much (colourful) ink in the water, that we don’t see anything clearly anymore. It’s all just murkly and muddled. Is ANT-MAN the first casualty?
This ANT-MAN trailer had a long set-up for a familiar joke. We got all the backstory with some slo-mo moments. Then the name Ant-man gets dropped like it’s Starlord. Whereas the GUARDIANS trailer had the boisterous laugh from the reply of “Who?” Here, I feel like PAUL RUDD’s “Okay” falls a little flat. Was it too telegraphed? Was it obvious this was the punchline? Are Marvel trailers too predictable? Is that even a bad thing? We will have to wait and see. But for me that first joke just fell a little flat.
Once again, it looks like Marvel has balanced the tone across several genres, equating to overall fun. Will the feeling of a MARVEL movie be enough to sell this movie? Is ANT-MAN another guaranteed blockbuster? I feel like Marvel has definitely earned the respect and trust of us moviegoers. Anything they make is worth watching – especially at this point in time. Marvel has yet to burn us. So I’m going to keep reaching. My ticket is metaphorically already bought.
ANT-MAN’s trailer sets up a nice and simple plot. The movie will start with Scott Lang (PAUL RUDD) in jail for thieving. He’ll get in a prison fight. He’ll get out of jail. He’ll try and save his sick daughter – maybe by stealing the Antman suit. He’ll get recruited by the original Antman HANK PYM (MICHEAL DOUGLAS). He’ll don the suit (again?). He’ll shrink. And he’ll kick some ass. Done. Familiarity and predictability is what makes a superhero movie so entertaining and comforting. We know what will happen and we can’t wait to see it. Which begs the question… is the villain YELLOW JACKET? Is that bald corporate leader destined to don a very similar suit to Ant-man’s?
The movie is even better if we end up actually caring for these characters. And, thankfully, it looks like the emotional drama here will also be effective. So we’ve got everything we’ve come to know and love from a Marvel movie. It’s worth the price of admission… until it’s not. I fear the familiarity will become a negative for the fickle movie going public. While I love and appreciate these perceivably cliched tropes, I think the average Joe Filmgoer will notice this and jump on the hate-wagon. If you find yourself thinking like that already just don’t give up on Marvel yet. It’s not that ANT-MAN is unoriginal or anything like that. It’s the old addage that every story has already been told. No story is original anymore. We have comedy and we have tragedy. That’s it (if you’re Shakespeare). We have the hero story or questing adventure. That’s it. It’s the characters which are infinite. No person is the same in real life either, right. So do not dismiss ANT-MAN for that basis, we have to wait until we see it.
The action scenes look worth the price of admission already. It seems like dismissed/fired/quit director EDGAR WRIGHT’s (SEAN OF THE DEAD, SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD) vision is still on full display. I’m sure he guided the pre-vis / early design aspects that were implemented in the final product. I’m saying those miniature scenes of Ant-man riding a flying ant (?) are Wright’s work. The strange colours and blurred lighting effects definitely remind me of PILGRIM’s aesthetics (even if I am way off with this interpretation). The transition from standing in the shower, to shrinking into the bathtub, was rather impressive. The sense of fun is on full display with these sequences.
Paul Rudd should be another affable hero like Stark and Starlord – a joker we love to like, and easily empathize with. Rudd has been doing solid comedic work for decades now, so it’s refreshing to see him lead a movie. And what a movie to lead… a giant special FX laden superhero blockbuster.
Rudd’s co-stars incude DOUGLAS as the original Ant-man inventor Pym, and Canadian EVANGELINE LILLY (LOST, HOBBIT, REAL STEEL) as the Wasp’s daughter. I’m sure we’ll see her in superhero form by the end of this movie. Douglas is a great choice for the traditional role of exposition reader. Marvel always casts a solid heavyweight actor for these “Tell Us What’s Happening” sort of roles. Douglas definitely has a magnetic presence on screen, so I’m looking forward to what he does with this pivotal role of Hank Pym.
Meanwhile, Lilly never blew up like I thought she would. I was a huge fan of LOST and couldn’t wait to see her do movies. It looks like she’s treaded the feature film world carefully, establishing a new fanbase by doing genre films. I’m hoping she’s planned this out to get scripts for something more substantial like an HBO series or a dramatic lead in a feature. She is definitely a physical pressence with action hero abilities, but I also really enjoyed the dynamic range she demonstrated early on with her role in LOST.
Regardless, I expect to see her version of THE WASP alongside Rudd’s ANT-MAN in the next AVENGERS movie or at least in the crossover event films in a few years. Is that what this franchise wants to set-up – cross-over appearances? Is this to be a one off solo film, or will the story continue in multiple sequels?
What do you think?
Will ANT-MAN be Marvel’s first failure at the box office?
Are you angered by Edgar Wright’s dismissal? What do you think of PEYTON REED taking over the reins? He made the surprisingly fun BRING IT ON – which was another easy to dismiss (and roll your eyes at) premise. Consider weighing that if you have a negative opinion.
Will Evangeline Lilly end up as the new Wasp by the end of the movie?
Are you looking forward to another comedic superhero?
Is Marvel running out of interesting characters?