Weekend Forecast for July 17-19, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
July 17, 2015
In an occurrence we are expected to believe is a coincidence and not an intentional wry commentary, this week's new wide releases are Ant-Man and Trainwreck.
Phase Two of Marvel's Cinematic Universe comes to a close this weekend with the aforementioned diminutive super-hero film, an unlikely candidate to cap off six films that have brought in close to $5 billion so far, given that it appears to be pre-apologizing for itself. Then again, given how much it looks to be slavishly copying the guidebook for Iron Man, perhaps this is more appropriate than one would think.
Starting deep into the character's history, we're dealing with the Scott Lang version of the character (played by Paul Rudd, who gets co-writer credits), recruited by Hank Pym, discoverer of particles that are able to reduce objects by many times their size. In the way of everything in the Marvel universe, this gets weaponized, and in an attempt to assert control over his invention, Pym drafts Lang to be the new Ant-Man. Along with the title goes a suit that give incredible strength and power and telepathic control of insects, because why not.
Corey Stoll stars
as Jeff Bridges as rival industrialist Darren Cross, who builds a similar technology based off Pym's discovery called Yellowjacket (always with the themes, you guys) with much more evil intent and cue the battles at tiny scales. The film does have one killer app in its rapid shifting perspective from human to ant scale, which allows for some playfulness, but also creates a difficulty in taking things seriously. Marvel and Disney have attempted to turn a weakness into a strength the best they can, and a clever marketing campaign has used small scale tie-ins to great effect, but it's still daring us not to take the movie seriously.
Despite appearing like a johnny-come-lately, Ant-Man was actually one of the first Marvel movies in the pipeline, announced at a Comic-con many ages ago with Edgar Wright as its director. A high-profile falling out between Wright and Rudd led to his replacement with Peyton Reed, a likely more pliable and suggestible guy with not as much, what do you call it... artistic vision. Thus, the film ends up being more of a showcase for Rudd than a truly unique film within the rapidly ossifying superhero genre.
Reviews are middle-of-the-road and call out the film's unoriginality, but with Marvel's relatively unbroken winning streak, and proof that they can market oddball concepts (Talking tree! Raccoon with a machine gun!), this will likely do much better than the bomb that it would seem headed for. It's been ages, relatively speaking, since a MCU film opened modestly (let's go back to the first Captain America and its $65 million start), but this definitely has the feel of “second tier” Marvel. Will this start the slide that we once had with things like Daredevil and Ghost Rider? It's too early to tell, really, but Ant-Man may end up as one of the more regrettable recent super hero films, at least financially. I'd expect an opening weekend of about $53 million. Such is the power of Marvel/Disney these days.