While Ant-Man had the lowest domestic financial opening weekend for any post-Avengers Marvel movie, it is a quality movie that will satisfy anyone with realistic expectations.
Marvel Studios movies have defining traits that both separate them from other movies and make Marvel movies similar to each other. Ant-Man is the most blatant example of following Marvel guidelines. Protagonist that made mistakes in the past needs to learn how to be a hero, action movie with comedy added throughout to keep a lighter tone, and a one-dimensional villain that is evil because he is evil. Without getting into spoilers, if you have seen the first Iron-Man movie, you already seen the entire story of Ant-Man. Watching the movie, it seemed believable that after Edgar Wright left the Ant-Man movie he spent years trying to make, Marvel took the script from Iron-Man and edited it to work for Ant-Man.
Acknowledging the lack of plot creativity, I loved Iron-Man and enjoyed Ant-Man. The star of the film Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is a generic super hero that neither helps nor hurts the film. He has a daughter that adds something the previous Marvel superheroes didn’t have, but the sweet father-daughter scenes are so few that it does not do much to make you care about him. But based on one of the best parts of the movie that has an Avenger cameo, he could be interesting when added into a group setting with other heroes. I don’t expect this role to make Rudd a star the way Iron-Man and Star Lord jumpstarted Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt’s careers.
Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and Michael Pena’s Luis are the standout supporting characters. Hank’s backstory as the original Ant-Man, relationship with his daughter, mentor to Scott, and personality makes him a more interesting and relatable character than Scott. Luis is a comedy relief character, but one that is funny and not annoying.
I thought Evangeline Lilly’s Hope was a good character, but her storyline has an issue the movie never fully corrects. Hope is a good fighter, knows how to control ants using her father’s technology, and understands how the Ant-Man suit works, so it is odd that the movie goes out of its way to explain why she can’t be the hero of the movie. Based on the actress’ previous roles in Lost and The Hobbit, I assumed she would play a female hero that is usually associated with Ant-Man. Saying anymore could be considered a spoiler, but they could have easily gone in a different direction and avoided more does Marvel have a female hero problem questions.
The biggest issue with Ant-Man is the same issue that plagues any Marvel Studios movie not featuring Loki or Winter Soldier. Darren Cross is a terrible villain. He is not bad enough to kill the movie like the embarrassingly bad Iron-Man 2 villains or Thor: The Dark World dark elves, but he is still a problem for people expecting at least an average super villain. Cross is given weak motivations for what he does, is not intimidating, and I never bought any of the emotional connections he is supposed to have with the other characters.
Luckily for Marvel, more people are going to see Ant-Man for good special effects over good villains. Watching Ant-Man shrink and use ants in different scenarios is more entertaining than that sounds. The commercials really didn’t do Ant-Man’s powers justice and the action scenes are good. But Ant-Man is not CGI and explosions from beginning to end, with most of the action occurring in the second half of the movie.
Ant-Man is not the must see movie in summer 2015, but is worth watching for anyone looking for a movie to see this weekend.