5 Reasons Ant-Man Is The Best Thing To Happen To The Marvel Cinematic Universe
It’s no secret Marvel’s big-screen adaptation of Ant-Man had a lot to prove after Edgar Wright suddenly exited the project 14 months ago over lack of creative control. While the finished product credits Peyton Reed (Yes Man, Bring It On) as its director—in addition to Adam McKay and Paul Rudd as co-screenwriters—Wright and co-writer Joe Cornish’s original vision has a clear presence in what’s easily the best superhero flick of the summer.
In fairness, many of Ant-Man’s charms owe a large debt to Reed, McKay, and Rudd, who somehow found the right recipe to streamline the story’s eccentric appeal with Marvel’s ever-growing narrative. Here are five reasons why the combined efforts of all these dudes made Ant-Man the best thing to happen to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
Fresh superhero territory
In case the trailers didn’t tip you off, Ant-Man is less preoccupied with blowing stuff up than your average superhero flick. Sure, it’s about a burglar who wears a suit that allows him to shrink to bug-sized proportions, but super-heroic action is often dialed back in favour of more human stuff like father-daughter drama, money problems, departed loved ones, and amusing banter. All this culminates with a high-concept heist that plays out like a cross between Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission: Impossible, and Bottle Rocket, which is honestly less weird than it sounds.
The trouble with Marvel’s expanding universe is it’s becoming increasingly difficult to give each character the attention they deserve. While Ant-Man clocks in at a lean two hours, its scaled back cast and slow-burning plot allows for more character-building intimacy, not just in terms of people’s screen time, but also our stake in them. It obviously doesn’t hurt that the film is bolstered by highly seasoned stars like Michael Douglas and the hilarious Rudd. Still, in terms of laugh count, Michael Peña steals the show as Rudd’s former cellmate and heist-buddy. We also adore every one of those bugs, especially Antony the flying ant.
Ant-Man’s special abilities might sound silly on paper, but onscreen they’re an inventive hoot compared to the traditional superhero shtick in which increasingly large skyscrapers get decimated by various Avengers adversaries. Reed makes great visual use of his hero’s capacity to shrink and grow (and shrink and grow) during a single skirmish. Seeing Ant-Man leap through keyholes, sprint across guns, and fight alongside his insect militia is even more exciting when he’s shifting back and forth between sizes. It’s also hilarious to see a bug punch a man in the face.
Unique sense of humour
Even more so than Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man hits it out of the park in the humour department. Rudd’s deadpan delivery goes great with Peña’s laid-back goofiness, but the film’s most hilarious moments are actually during the climactic battle that takes place in a little girl’s bedroom. The growing and shrinking of numerous objects is a wonderfully slapstick antidote to the final fight’s high stakes and high-concept thrills. Like The LEGO Movie’s meta-critical subtext about thinking outside the instruction manual, setting a chunk of the fight on a Thomas the Tank Engine train set pokes fun at the toy world these Marvel heroes essentially live in.
Plays nicely with other Marvel films
Besides being great, another thing Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man have in common is they go down smoothly as standalone stories, but also throw a refreshingly ridiculous wrench into Marvel’s homogenized movie saga. While these entries are a far cry from DC’s stubborn broodiness, a good dose of levity really goes a long way, and Ant-Man is easily the funniest and most lighthearted of the bunch. Still, if you’ve been diligently following the first and second phases of the MCU, you’ll be happy to learn that Ant-Man dukes it out with one of the Avengers. We won’t reveal who that is or who wins, but let’s just say Marvel’s tiniest hero packs a huge punch. Just like this movie.
Ant-Man creepy-crawls its way into 3D, IMAX 3D, and ant-sized 2D screens this Friday.