The second phase of Marvel’s infinite string of interconnected films ends not with Avengers: Age of Ultron, the all-star showdown that ignited the box office this May, but with this weekend’s Ant-Man. Its job — besides making money and being as engaging as possible — is to provide the final pieces of set-up necessary before the launch of Marvel’s Phase Three, which will begin next May with Captain America: Civil War and last for more than three years.
The 400-Word-Review: Ant-Man
By Sean Collier
July 20, 2015
Which is a big task for a superhero that few casual fans recognize.
The character Ant-Man has been around for quite a while, however — long enough that the first person to don the costume in the comics, Hank Pym, is actually the senior member of this cast. In an opening flashback, we see Pym (Michael Douglas) insisting that his invention, a suit that can shrink its wearer to insect size while increasing their relative strength, not be used for military purposes. He’s forced out of his own company and lies low until, decades later, the bad guys create a shrinking suit of their own. Suddenly, Pym needs someone to save the day.
He finds Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an ex-con who went to jail for a Robin Hood burglary of a similarly-evil corporation. After trial-by-fire test runs, Pym brings Lang in to learn, mostly under the skeptical eye of his double-agent daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly); she knows that her estranged dad is right, but wants the suit for herself.
It’s not a true origin story, as the beginning of the tale — Pym’s struggles — are seen only briefly. It is the beginning of the road for Reed, but rather than get bogged down in the superhero motivations that have sunk lesser comic adaptations, Ant-Man is breezy, funny and lively under the direction of Peyton Reed (taking over for Edgar Wright, who left late in the process and is acknowledged as giving the story its bones).
Rudd is funny, as are many key set pieces, but Ant-Man is no comedy; it’s a slightly lighter take on the Marvel formula that nonetheless delivers a handful of tense moments. And as a bridge to Civil War, it’s tantalizing, particularly as all the subtle references and late reveals — stay until the end of the credits — are analyzed. It’s a bit forgettable, but an otherwise fine member of the Marvel family.
My Rating: 8/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark