Ant-Man – Marvel’s Smallest Superhero
– a Hero Corner Catch-up Review by David 2
So supposedly there was a pattern to be applied with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where you have a string of individual hero movies that would lead up to the big team hero movie, and then that would be the end of that “phase”. That’s what “Phase One” was about, and supposedly that was the pattern that would follow.
But MCU head honcho Kevin Feige apparently forgot to clue in the one person that sort of needed to know this… and that would be Kevin Feige himself.
So we started the dark “Phase Two” with the dark “Iron Man 3” and continued with the equally dark “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, the surprisingly light “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and then with the mediocre “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, and then that would be it. Individual movies followed by the big team hero movie.
But it wasn’t the end of “Phase Two”. There was still one more movie to go, and it ended up being better than most of the others.
“Ant-Man” was a 2015 movie release that stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, and with the needed hero-cameo of Anthony Mackie as Falcon, the newest member of the Avengers (spoiler for those who didn’t see “Age of Ultron”). There’s also a quick appearance of John Slattery as Howard Stark (from “Iron Man 2”) and Hailey Atwell (from “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Winter Soldier” and “Age of Ultron”) as the founding heads of SHIELD.
We start with a flashback scene of genius inventor Hank Pym (a strangely de-aged Douglas) quitting SHIELD after an incident surrounding the loss of his wife and vowing that they would never get their hands on his shrinking technology. Years later, we find that Pym has been forced out of his own company in a hostile takeover by his former protégée, Darrin Cross (Stoll), and his own daughter Hope Van Dyne (Lilly). Cross has a plan to create a whole army of super-soldier assassins and saboteurs that could shrink and fly and use lasers, based on the “perfect” prototype called the Yellowjacket.
At the same time, Scott Lang (Rudd) is trying to rebuild his life after being released from prison for theft. He’s not succeeding, of course, just because he is an ex-con, and local business managers are all douchebags who hate ex-cons. But his friends and former criminal crew have a “perfect score” for him, and he keeps on saying no because he wants to see his daughter Cassie again, and his ex-wife and her new cop fiancée both want him to have no contact whatsoever.
So after getting fired from, of all places, a Baskin Robbins franchise, Scott finally listens to his friend Luis (Pena) after a rather extensive flashback tale and he accepts “the job”… which is to break into some old man’s home and steal a certain suit. He pulls it off, takes the suit, goes home, tries it out, and finds himself really, really small. He tries to return the suit and he ends up being arrested.
I’ll spare you the lengthy explanation and just say that we find out Pym was the one that arranged the whole thing to see if Scott could become the “Ant-Man”. We then see him eventually train to master the Ant-Man shrinking suit and all of Pym’s gadgets, including learning how to control ants. All of this so Scott can use the Ant-Man suit, become Ant-Man, and break into the Pym Tech building and steal the Yellowjacket prototype so that Cross won’t then sell it to Hydra, led by the former founding head of SHIELD, whom Pym originally swore would never have. Except it doesn’t work out as smoothly as Pym wanted it to go.
I’m going to start by saying that I understand why this movie ended up being the end of the MCU “Phase Two”, and, yet, I firmly believe that this should not have been the last movie in “Phase Two”. This should have been the start of “Phase Three”, because it is a totally different movie than the previous ones. It was a good movie, and I don’t just mean in terms of quality.
“Ant-Man” is the story of a bad man looking to do right, and in doing so, he becomes a hero, albeit through doing what he was doing that sent him to prison in the first place. That’s not your “traditional” sense of heroism like Captain America, or the guilty narcissist that makes up who Iron Man is. Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is a father looking to do right by his daughter, and, in that regard, it is that understanding that manages to mend the rift that exists between Michal Douglas’s Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne. That doesn’t fit in with the doom and gloom that makes up most of “Phase Two”. This movie should rightfully belong to “Phase Three”.
Speaking of which, after the credits of “Ant-Man”, we have a scene that leads directly into “Phase Three”, where Ant-Man joins the Avengers. Well… sort of. You’ll just have to wait until the next review if you don’t know what I mean.