In Marvel’s quest to conquer the universe, Ant Man has been their troubled production. With the news that Edgar Wright was dropping out three weeks before the start of filming, geekdom was thrown into turmoil as they already begun to lambast the Wrightless film. Sadly we will never see Wright’s version of one of Marvel’s more unusual superheroes, even though he and Joe Cornish still receive writing credits, and instead are left with Peyton Reed‘s effort.
Marvel’s first decision is to actually focus on the second Ant Man, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) being relegated to mentor role. Lang is a former cat burglar who is looking to go straight when Pym convinces him to don the Ant Man suit. This allows him to shrink at the touch of a button and control ants. While it’s a power that hardly compares with being the God of Thunder, Lang is essentially a bullet when small. Giving him the ability to take out goons in a satisfactory manner. Pym tasks Lang with stopping his former protegé Darren Cross from using Pym’s technology and selling it to the military.
Ant Man is another Marvel film that shows off their biggest strength. The depth of source material that they have to draw from. While past films have embraced cold war thrillers and Star Wars esque sci-fi, this film is a heist movie. With a fair dollop of comedy thrown in there for good measure. Ant Man’s powers are rife for inventive battles and you can see the Edgar Wright touch coming out in some of these. Moments involving fights in briefcases are tinged with genius and allow Marvel to move away from the city destroying madness of their normal fare and scale everything back.
Despite that refreshing change there are still classic Marvel issues here. Mainly in the form of Corey Stoll as bad guy Darren Cross. Once again this is Marvel villain that we never really get to know. He’s painted in such broad strokes that all we get is the fact he’s a bit nuts and wants to get back at Pym for perceived slights. This lack of depth in the villain roster (Loki aside) is a constant thorn in Marvel’s side and it is getting to the point where they seem more like a distraction than an actual threat.
On the other hand Rudd is very entertaining as Lang. The fact he’s not the first person that leaps to your mind when you think superhero plays to his advantage and he is a very different character from the current Avengers roster. His relationship with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Hank’s estranged daughter, is wonderfully spiky and he adds a lot of comedy, but more importantly a lot of heart to the role.
For a wide audience Ant Man is always going to be compared to the film that never was, but the truth is we will never see Wright’s take on this story. We do however have Reed’s and considering how quickly he had to get this together it is a lot better than we have any right to expect. It is a fast paced, action packed romp that avoids becoming a jumbled mess. Free from a lot of the stuff that weighed Avengers done it is a much sleeker and laugh filled film and it proves once again that Marvel are just doing this stuff damn well.