Out this weekend is the new addition to The Avengers roster, and the first origin story in years : Ant-Man.
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Ant-Man is a heist movie about a Scott Lang (Rudd) who can shrink down all small like with a special suit so he can steal someone else to save the world.
A little like Oceans 11, except if Ocean was Paul Rudd and could shrink, (and the other 10 were 10,000 and all ants) it is a shift in genre from the more typical action movies that the blanket term ‘Comic Book Movie’ would imply.
Ant-man is one of the more controversial super heroes for people not already neck deep in Marvel Comics, and to many people was indicative of Disney running out of ‘the good’ superheroes to choose from. A man who can shrink down to a small size and gain super human strength, as well as gaining the ability to talk to ants, is considered to be more ‘unrealistic’ compared to the other heroes with at least one foot in reality. Examples include gamma radiation turning an angry man into an unstopping killing machine, or A Norse God/Alien shooting lightning out of a hammer that only he (until recently MCU-wise) has been able to lift, usually with his shirt off. Talking to ants and changing size was going to be one suspension of disbelief too far.
Also problematic was the production of the film in the first place where Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright had written a fully fleshed out script which was rumoured to be too funny. So funny, in fact, that anyone who read it died or were seriously injured.
Survivors claimed they never wanted to watch another Disney movie again, as they new it could never be as good. Deciding to find someone who could make the film a bit more serious and a little less like award winning movies ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Attack the Block’, they found a friend in Adam McKay, writer of such underwhelming but popular films as The Other Guys demonstrating a very real difference in American and British sense of humour. To his credit he also did Anchorman.
Perhaps this is why the movie seems a bit underwhelming and confused in tone a lot of the time, Paul Rudd is one of the few actors who has made me cry with laughter, even during his less successful movies, such as Wanderlust. In Ant-Man his comic timing is under used, and a lot of the jokes have fallen victim to Disney pushing the trailers so hard that you have heard a lot of the jokes before you go in. Ant-man sometimes feels like a children’s film that they went back to, and then added swearing into.
The film was at times inconsistent, spending too much time on showing us how much of a lovely guy Scott Lang (Rudd) was, where the rest of the first two acts seemed to be set aside for Michael Douglas to yell at someone, or for Evangeline Lilly to storm out of a room.
Despite all this I absolutely loved this movie start to finish, all those wee niggly issues are not going to make you feel any less happy about what is going on. Scott Lang is such a truly lovable character that allowing Rudd to take centre stage as a character with depth as well as his great comic timing made him an absolute delight to watch. His motivation for becoming Ant-Man was believable and didn’t feel like a plot-line being crowbarred in just to get to the part of the film where he has to try to stop bad things happening. In the same way that Whedon had used all The Avengers personality traits to create problems, solutions and fighting styles, Ant-Man makes mistakes and bad decisions that feel like they are part of the characterisation and don’t feel forced resulting in very smooth transitions to what could otherwise have been disjointed, unrelated scenes. There are great references to previous films further cementing the film in the MCU and at least three, on first count, in relation to upcoming films. This includes a very exciting throwaway line about some kid that can climb up walls.
It’s hard to imagine anyone sitting through this and not enjoying it, though I was left with the feeling that I needed to see it for a second time to appreciate it. Some of my fellow journalists had already seen it at the time and said that, with a second watch, the film was much more enjoyable.
It is easy to forget that we haven’t seen a proper origin story since Captain America : The First Avenger which was four years ago, not including the Guardians Of The Galaxy Movie since it kind of brushed over the origin side of things. Apparently Rudd has already started filming his role in Captain America : Civil War next year and his character is so well developed that I can see the next Avengers movies being a lot more fun, I can see Scott Lang being as crucial to the feel of Infinity Wars as Tony Stark was to The Avengers. So as they go this one was very well paced, though it still felt a wee bit slow to begin with but it was a fantastic ride and I would happily will pay to go and see it again.