As a rather large fan of Marvel films it has become apparent that despite their films being largely fantastic, there are a few consistent flaws that are becoming a running theme – and Ant Man doesn’t seem to move on from them.
Ant Man was always going to be a gamble, and that was before its large production issues (i.e. the writer/director Edgar Wright leaving a week before production because of “conflicting interests”). Whilst being a founding member of The Avengers in the comics, he is one of the lesser known heroes, but when has that ever stopped Marvel, I mean just look at Guardians of the Galaxy.
But this film had been promised to be more, having kept my beady eye on its production ever since they announced that the Shaun of the Dead director was to be at the helm of what we imagined to be a very different style of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and that’s almost what we got.
Despite the Yes Man director Peyton Reed taking over and largely doing a good job in damage limitation, rewriting most of the script but keeping a hint of Wright’s distinct style in places, it had largely been toned down and, in my opinion at least, lost its individuality in the ever expanding portfolio of Marvel films.
However, looking past that and into the film itself, it’s very funny, has lots of brilliant ideas and plays with the shrinking idea brilliantly (whether it be during his training to use the suit or the climactic fight with his pea sized nemesis). The leading characters are all very well played out by Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, and slots itself nicely into the MCU whilst taking a different route from the big action spectacles in the form of a heist movie.
All good so far…
What Marvel have failed to do so far, minus Loki and a couple of others, is make their villains as believable and fun to watch as their heroes. Some people jump onto the “well Marvel’s villains just aren’t very good, especially the few they still have the rights to” train, but look at how they’re making the most out of their more unorthodox heroes. Again I’ll reference Guardians of the Galaxy, a series of comics that was cancelled not once, but twice, however when they adapted it to the big screen, shuffled some personality traits into the questionable heroes, it came out on top. But the villain, poor old Ronan the Accuser, gets given the generic bad guy stick and for reasons that are only explainable through his race and general bad attitude towards the world, wants to destroy the galaxy before being bumped off at around 120 mins of screen time. ( I apologise if you’re on of the three people or the duck that hasn’t seen it yet)
Ant Man is no different, to the point where I can’t remember the character’s name and I can only remember the alias Yellow Jacket, because it’s very self explanatory of his appearance. With motives that fall apart the moment you look at them and a bad selection of dialogue to boot, I firmly believe that he is the worst villain to date. Yes he was wronged/abandoned by Hank Pym (Douglas), the creator of the Ant Man suit, and wants to prove himself… or get revenge… or approval… noticed?… money??? – You know what, I don’t know what he wants, all of the above? The point is that everyone else gets a clear “I must do this because this happened and I need to get here” motive and yet again, the villain is left to fill in a variety of slots, watering down his persona.
What else, oh yeah, continuity.
So putting on the Ant Man suit is as easy on one-two-three, (or ten, nine, eight…), the whole training montage seems a little wasted when the villain wears and fights pretty well in a suit he has never used before, arguments between father and daughter (well their conclusion anyway) seem to be forgotten within ten minutes, and the realm of no return… well I won’t spoil it but its conclusion really didn’t agree with any logic in the end.
Finally the film’s pacing.
You can tell it was re-written a few times before the end by different people. Scenes didn’t mesh together well and it kind of felt like a sketch show – a variety of comedic scenes strung together by a single underlying plot.
Don’t get me wrong, its an absolute hoot to watch, there is comedy in characters you don’t expect and plenty in the ones you do, some of the most entertaining fight scenes I’ve ever seen and a whole bunch of really fun spectacles to keep your eye on, ranging from the de-aging process that Douglas is given at the start of the film to the visually stunning shrinking scenes (all of which was filmed for real). But where it suffers mostly is that it’s still a Marvel film, so don’t expect them to have learnt from their mistakes and moved on… because they haven’t. (That said, the usual Marvel post credit sting, there are two, stay till the VERY end.)
[Well at least the bad guys in Captain America: Civil War are already established characters, so that’s something to look forward to.]