As big as Marvel films are getting, and let’s be honest they’re like ‘roided up Hulk snorting PCP riding an elephant, they’ve also hit a sort of formulaic lull. Ant-Man, formerly Edgar Wright’s, now Peyton Reed’s, may just be the mold-breaker we’re all looking for. Or it could be another Thor.
Turns out Marvel has created an empire, outside of a few outliers, of, well, pretty good flicks. Ant-Man, all things considered, is a solid little film – great lead, a few solid action beats, and a dip into weirdness that almost makes it a better movie than it is. Hell, this could be the description of just about every Marvel film up to this point. This particular little oddity (I mean oddity because it doesn’t have enormous men punching each other, rather slightly smaller men punching each other) stars Paul Rudd as ex-con Scott Lang, who’s pulled into a strange world of a shrinking super-hero when he steals a suit from, ah fuck it, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Seems there’s a world to be saved, and ex-con Scott Lang is just about the only one who can do it. Rudd is, as Rudd is, charming. He doesn’t stretch much outside of his Paul Rudd antics – look charming Paul Rudd is riding an ant! – but still, he’s a leading man built for Marvel – charming, but harmless. The film, as all Marvel films do, suffers from a weak bad guy, Marvel B-lister Yellow Jacket (Corey Stoll), who’s trying to do something with something to make something happen. All I know is that Michael Douglas kept telling me it was going to end the world, so, I believe. There’s great set pieces using the humor and weirdness of two small men fighting, but even when Corey Stoll is getting ran over by a miniature train (spoiler alert), it all feels pretty inconsequential. The film as a whole feels flat, subdued even, as if whatever madness Edgar Wright was cooking got vacuum-sucked out and left on the side of the ride, and this, a perfectly enjoyable, perfectly serviceable film was left in its stead.
This film has two post-credit bumpers (don’t leave your seats!) and both of them annoyed me more than anything. I won’t say what they are, but at least one of them should have been incorporated into the main plot of the story. Which is frustrating. Marvel is banking on the comic book nerd/television watching set to be pulled right into another film based on the secret revealed in the final post-credit scene, and it feels, sometimes, like these aren’t movies, just long introductions to the next cliff-hanger.