Before we begin, let me just tell you that there will be SPOILERS here. Cool? Cool.
With probably the most ridiculous superhero concept to ever hit the big screen and the shocking departure of director Edgar Wright (he was replaced by Peyton Reed, the esteemed director of the modern classic Bring It On), it was easy to assume that Ant-Man would be the first major failure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Everyone, including this blog author, expected a disaster. Well everyone is wrong.
Ant-Man is the most human story to come out of the MCU and it’s the funniest as well. It’s not the best superhero movie ever, but holy Stan Lee is it entertaining. Here are 10 reasons why (again, SPOILERS!):
1. Hello, old friends.
The movie kicks off with a pleasant surprise as we see John Slattery reprising his role of Old Howard Stark from Iron Man 2 and another appearance from Hayley Atwell as an older — but not Winter Soldier old — Peggy Carter. It’s not a heavy-handed way of connecting Ant-Man to the rest of the MCU either. This is not Thor taking a vision bath in Avengers: Age of Ultron. This delightful flashback directly leads into the events of Ant-Man.
2. It’s really important that the Captain doesn’t know about this.
Speaking of MCU ties that fit perfectly in the story, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man encounters Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson/Falcon. It’s surprisingly one of the most enjoyable scenes in the movie and it serves a purpose too as it leads Team Ant-Man to acquire the thingamajig they need to pull of the heist. Amusingly enough, this encounter also causes the heist to fail as it tips off Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross/Yellowjacket about the existence of the Ant-Man. Fun AND functional!
3. Team Ant-Man
Ant-Man isn’t just about Scott Lang. Paul Rudd shares the spotlight with Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne and Michael Douglas’ Dr. Hank Pym. I was pretty upset about Hank Pym not being a founding member of the MCU Avengers and the creator of MCU Ultron, but it’s comforting to know that he was indeed the original Ant-Man who secretly fought evil.
The distrust between Hope and Scott, the mentor-mentee relationship between Scott and Hank, and the father-daughter issues between Hank and Hope make this trio fully developed characters before they even get to the heist. I really like the fact that these characters are fleshed out together instead of just the Pyms playing second fiddle to Scott Lang.
Team Ant-Man is rounded out by a black dude, a hacker, and the amazing Michael Peña who kills it in each of his scenes.
4. Genuine LOL Moments
Paul Rudd’s constant failure during training, Michael Peña’s hilariously elaborate narratives, and the countless one-liners sprinkled throughout the movie make Ant-Man the funniest MCU entry to date. The site gags involving enlarged and shrunken objects/ants don’t just bring humor to the sometimes serious and intense story of loss and revenge, but they elevate the film into something fresh and genuinely entertaining. If you don’t enjoy the fact that the climactic battle of a superhero heist movie takes place in a little girl’s bedroom, you’re dead inside.
5. Easter Eggs
It’s not a Marvel movie without Easter eggs, amirite? My favorite hidden gems in Ant-Man are 1) the Milgrom Hotel, current residence of Scott Lang, is named after Al Milgrom, one of Marvel’s most prolific writers/artists, 2) Darren Cross mentioning “tales to astonish“, a reference to Ant-Man’s first appearance in Tales to Astonish #35, and 3) an indirect acknowledgment that Spider-Man now exists in the MCU.
6. The Astonishing Every-Man
What makes Ant-Man really special is Scott Lang. He’s not an actual everyman character since he’s a parkouring cat burglar who used to be an electrical engineer, but compared to the rest of the MCU superheroes, he’s the closest thing we have to an everyman superhero. Well, except maybe for Hawkeye but he doesn’t have his own movie, does he? But yeah, we’ve got an alien god, a super soldier, a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, a gamma irradiated rage monster, a couple of super assassin spies, and a bunch of space a-holes. They save the world (and the galaxy) because HEROISM! Scott Lang is an ex-con who takes up the mantle of Ant-Man to do the right thing just because he wants to do right by his daughter.
After big, sweeping epics that destroy cities and threaten the galaxy, it’s refreshing to see Marvel dial things down and deliver a smaller, more personal story. The scale is smaller (hyuk! hyuk!) because they probably want us to take a deep breath and settle down before things get crazy big again.
7. CGI is cool again.
At this point, most of us are already desensitized to loud, incomprehensible computer generated action scenes in blockbuster movies (thanks a lot, Transformers, Avengers, and pretty much every genre movie in recent memory). Ant-Man still uses this comic book movie staple but in a smaller scale (hyuk! hyuk!) and it also does something fresh with it. From Ant-Man’s view of the world when he’s ant-sized to the pretty cool action scenes, CGI has finally stopped being annoying and instead has started once more to enhance the story. CGI is cool again.
8. Behold! The Microverse!
As a comic book fan, this is one of the most exciting things to come out of Ant-Man. They call it the Quantum Realm in the movie, but in the comics, it’s the Microverse. When Ant-Man shrinks down to a sub-atomic level to stop Yellowjacket, he shrinks down infinitely. This brings him to a whole new dimension where time and space stop making sense.
The Quantum Realm introduces a whole new concept to the MCU — a universe within a universe — expanding it further. They’ve already taken us to outer space, now they’re taking us to inner space. The MCU is not just bringing us new characters with every movie, it is also introducing us to weird ass ideas and concepts that take world building to an entirely different level. This is amazing.
9. THE WASP!
The Wasp and Ant-Man in action! It’s a short scene but man, it is magic. Also, tragic. The apparent death-by-shrinking-into-the-Microverse of The Wasp a.k.a. Janet van Dyne, Hank Pym’s wife and Hope’s mother, reminds me of that time when The Wasp “died” in the comics.
In Secret Invasion, she was turned into a giant living bomb by shapeshifting aliens and was seemingly killed by Thor before she exploded (long story). She didn’t actually die. Instead, she was accidentally transported to the Microverse! If Marvel designed Janet’s movie “death” to echo her comics “death”, then I am impressed.
10. The Stingers
The mid-credits scene has Hank Pym introducing Hope to an abandoned redesign of the Wasp suit. I guess we’ll see a new Wasp soon just as we saw a new Ant-Man this time. I believe this is the first time we’re seeing a passing-of-the-superhero-torch story in the MCU. Superhero legacy stories are the best.
The end-credits scene involves Captain America, Falcon, and the Winter Soldier. Now that’s interesting. We have no idea how they found Bucky and why they can’t come to Tony Stark about their situation but hey, Falcon knows a guy. I guess this ties directly into Captain America: Civil War.
“Disintegration” by The Cure