I really used to like the original Ant Man. I thought it was underrated, charming, funny, and a lighter take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that’s how I remembered it until my rewatch last night.
What I forgot: since it came out, a lot more amusing and enjoyable MCU films came along, ones that made me laugh harder, thrilled me visually, and set up characters I cared for in a visceral, deeper way. Now, having rewatched Ant Man’s 2015 origin story after having viewed top of the line films like Thor: Ragnarok, the Guardians films, Black Panther, Civil War, Spiderman, and Infinity War, I’m suddenly underwhelmed. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang does what he can, but aside from his sweet little kid, I didn’t feel much of anything for anyone else. I cared more for poor Antony the Ant than the cast of people, which isn’t a good sign.
And the plot. It was just about another set of guys in another set of suits. Really. A guy of dubiously good morality in a tech suit, plus a clearly definite bad guy in a meaner suit, exploiting the tech. Am I describing Iron Man or Ant Man?
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We now have normal guys in suits up and down the MCU — Iron Man, War Machine, Falcon, Ant Man. (Batman is the same, but hey, different universe.) I’m not sure we needed to put Wasp in yet another suit, but it’s a gal, so that’s new. Yay?
Some indirect spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follows.
Who else dons supersuits? Spidey finally has a cool tech version, and so does the Black Panther, but those are also dudes with legitimate innate superpowers. And lest I forget, Bruce Banner now sports a Hulkbuster Suit, for days when the rage monster refuses to come out and play.
Back to Ant Man. What really sets him apart from the other suit guys are two things: he’s got an ant army, and can move back and forth between many sizes — from normal, to tiny, right up to gigantic (making him “Gi-Ant Man”), and then back down to the subatomic, in the Quantum Realm.
Now, let’s pick this apart. At a normal size, he’s really just a cat burgler with engineering skills wearing in a leather jumper. We didn’t see him do the Gi-Ant thing until the (far superior) Captain America: Civil War. [pullquote]His role in the Quantum Realm was so short that it wasn’t more than a cameo excursion. (Hopefully, in Ant Man and the Wasp we’ll get a lot more quantum goodness.) So, what did he really do in his origin story?
Well, Scott had a cool fight with Falcon: it was brief, but fun, and he was adorably fan-girly in meeting an actual Avenger. He had cute scenes learning to control the various ants and bonding with Antony. Um. Hmmm. He kissed a girl in an awkward transition. And the bad guy smushed some sweet little lambs, which I forgot happened and never want to see again.
So, what about those ants, anyway? I was able to stop the screen and write it all down. Keep in mind most of this entymological science is totally made up:
- Crazy Ants (control electricity)
- Bullet Ants (really painful bites)
- Carpenter Ants (great for transport and flying)
- Fire Ants (can get in and out of difficult places)
So when the critters show up in the next movie, you’ll know which ants do what, for what its worth. But what I’m really looking forward to is seeing how the Quantum Realm relates to the larger Avengers storyline. I mean, it HAS to. Because another stand-alone plotline would not be very satisfying after what Thanos just did to the universe.
It’s still a well constructed movie; it’s just not very exciting. I don’t mind a ‘small’ story — I often prefer it — but it has to be good.
Movie Rewatch Grade: B
Read more on RunPee:
The Ant Man Movie — Sexism and Real Ants
How the Quantum Realm Offers Possible Insights to Avengers 4
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Join the conversation
MCU movies have always had an element of light fun that other franchises (DC) just couldn’t match. From the very first Iron Man there’s an element of fun, don’t take everything so seriously, feeling. Over time Stark becomes more serious, but that’s balanced by Star Lord, who’s never going to “grow up.”
Jill Florio Administrator
Hi polyGeek. Love your comment about Star Lord. He really screwed the pooch! But I can’t help still loving him. I want to be carefree and fun like he is.
His scene with Iron Man was classic. Stark looked so confused that anyone could be that stupid. hehehe
Yeah, the MCU has the secret formula down pat by now. Even the serious movies, like Infinity War, had me in stitches with their brand of humor. It makes a big difference. Compare that to the near-slog of DC’s Justice League, which I saw once and that was enough. That was competent, but not brilliant. While Infinity War, which I saw five times (and plan to see it a few more times if I can), is almost a perfect film.
Ant Man was very nice and sweet when it first came out, but it has been eclipsed by the later and better comic ones, like Ragnarock, Guardians, etc.
I do think AntMan2 is going to have the right formula. I can’t wait.
And right, the first Iron Man really MADE the franchise. Imagine if that movie didn’t come along to show the way. We would only have the dour Hulk movie to try to build these worlds on.
We owe a lot, i think, to Robert Downey JR, and the movie directors that trusted him, stepped back, and let him do his thing.
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