I used to be a big fan of Marvel and DC movies, then the studios found out how profitable they were and started cranking them out hand over fist until they were the norm. There’s not a single year now that doesn’t go by without some live action adaptation of a DC or Marvel comic book hero hitting the big screen. Overexposure is what killed these movies for me. Nowadays it’s the rare comic book adaptation that gets me interested. It’s no longer the movies where what’s at stake is epic, (the exception being Guardians Of The Galaxy, but that’s probably because they haven’t yet cranked out a buttload of sequels about them yet). The comic book movies I prefer now are intimate ones. The Wolverine (2013) is a good example. That movie wasn’t about Logan having to defeat some foe that was on the brink of destroying the Earth, or the Universe, or all Space and Time. It was about Logan himself. Which is why I gravitated towards this past summer’s Ant-Man.
When I first heard there was going to be an Ant-Man movie I naturally assumed Hank Pym would be the main character, but they decided to do the hand off-to-Scott Lang version, which was fine by me. All I really knew about that version of Ant-Man was in a small arc they did in Season 2 of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012) toon,
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is still a major character but he’s in retirement, though we get to see a 1989 prologue with him in his prime and confronting Howard Stark about his Pym Particles. Stark wants them to replicate, but Pym doesn’t want that to happen. In that scene we also get a cameo from Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) who’s in her 60s. Also in that scene is an ex S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, the head of Defense for that spy organization actually, Mitchell Carson. We learn in the final act he’s actually a Hydra “employee.”
What I liked about this flick was that it’s essentially a heist movie. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), ex-protégée of Pym, is now running Pym Technologies and he’s damn close to perfecting his own brand of shrinking, calling it the Yellowjacket, and implementing his own form of domination upon the world. Hmm, I guess, in a sense this tale does have that Earth-at-stakes angle, but I’ll let that slide since The Avengers were created specifically for those kind of “problems,” and Ant-Man does eventually end up being a member, so . . . That being said the epic stakes are in the background and all Pym wants to do is recruit someone to be Ant-Man one more time, steal the Yellowjacket suit and destroy all files and work pertaining to it so no one else can replicate it. He’d do it himself but donning that suit has taken a toll and he refuses to allow his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) to do it. She’s actually the better qualified candidate but if something goes horribly wrong he loses his daughter and he’s already lost his wife, Janet, to his shrinking tech decades before during a mission to defuse a missile in flight.
When Pym’s suit malfunctioned Janet sacrificed herself, shrinking down to the subatomic level, the only way she could have gotten into the missile to destroy it, and never returned. Even shrinking has its limits and you don’t go so small as to breach that Quantum level, for reality becomes something your starting putting quotes around if you do and odds are you never get out of it.
So, Pym wants to train someone expendable. Enter Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who’s just getting out of prison for a high profile burglary job he committed against Vista Corp that got him several years. Lang’s very good at what he does and can pretty much burgle anything, from anyone, from anywhere. Going straight for someone like him is hard and after a legit job scooping ice cream goes south he tries to make a living the only way he knows how, burgle some rumored huge amounts of money from this rich, old guy. That’s Pym, but Pym has set this all up to test Lang to see how good he is. Once that’s been determined training begins for him to become Ant-Man.
This is where the movie shines. The effects for the shrinking are stunning to watch, which led me to believe any remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man would certainly be fun if that were to ever happen. We get to see Lang learn to control his trademark ants, which are also perfectly and realistically rendered in CGI. The combat one can do in shrunken Ant-Man form is fun to see too as Lang bounces between being pinky small and being full sized as he kicks ass. His nemesis, Yellowjacket, which Cross dons in the final act is an impressive insect based tech as well, and the final fight when both of them in Lang’s daughter’s bedroom are duking it out on her train set is brilliant. When the camera is down there in the trenches it’s epic, but there are moments when it pulls back to show what a normal human might see and it’s almost an insignificant battle. It brought to mind astronauts viewing Earth from orbit where the planet looks all so sane, until you’re down there in person.
Janet Van Dyne (aka Wasp) has two cameos, in the flashback I previously mentioned and at the very end when Hank and Hope finally reconcile and he shows her the new Wasp suit he and Janet were working on when she “died.” In the comics and toons Wasp is a mutant but for her translation to live action her powers all come from a “power suit” like Hank’s.
And since this is a Marvel movie it’s obviously linked to the others that came before, and to what’s coming. Evidence of this can be seen in a scene where Scott suggests why doesn’t Hank just call in the Avengers, to which Hank flips out (mildly) stating he’s spent his life trying to keep his tech out of Stark’s hands, so no Avengers. And then during a test run Hank has Scott infiltrate an old Stark building, but surprise, surprise, when he gets there it’s now Avengers owned and he’s met with resistance, and a cameo, by Falcon!
Since I’ve never seen Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) I couldn’t make sense out of the requisite after credits scene all these movies have. There was some Eric Draven looking wannabe on the floor, his arm caught in something, and Falcon and Cap deciding not to tell the others and that Falcon knows a guy. I’ve been made aware that Draven looking dude was Bucky (aka Winter Soldier) and that it’s a set-up for Captain America: Civil War (2016). That’s right, I forgot, the Winter Soldier arc was also done on that second season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes toon.
On December 8th Walt Disney Studios releases Ant-Man in three separate editions, a 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/Digital Copy combo, a solo Blu-ray edition and a DVD solo edition.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—7.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 English (Descriptive Audio), 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital—English SDh, French, Spanish subs only.
- Audio Commentary By Peyton Reed And Paul Rudd
- Making Of An Ant-Sized Heist: A How-To Guide (14:34)
- Let’s Go To The Macroverse (8:06)
- WHIH NewsFront (WHIH Promo, Vista Corp Heist, Darren Cross Interview, Scott Lang Live)
- Deleted & Extended Scenes With Optional Commentary (Fixing The Cable, Hank Vaults The Suit, Paxton And Gale, Quibit Defense Matrix, Scott And Cassie, Wish Fulfillment, The Future Of Pym Particles, The History Of Ant-Man)
- Gag Reel (an unfunny 3:25)
On the DVD version you only get one Deleted Scene as an extra. That’s it.
In the commentary Director Payton Reed reveals they had a scene set up using Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” song from Say Anything (1989), but nixed the idea because it was too expensive to get a hold of. Apparently it wasn’t too expensive for this week’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Many Heads, One Tale” episode. Also, Reed says to pay attention when Lang enters the subatomic world, there might be some Easter eggs in it that couldn’t be discerned during the theatrical experience, because you’ll need to go frame-by-frame to catch them.
A sequel has already been greenlit, Ant-Man And Wasp (2018), and if they don’t fuck it up I expect I’ll enjoy it. I also understand Ant-Man will be in Captain America: Civil War (2017) in some capacity too.