Jul 19 2015
My expectations for the Ant-Man movie were exceedingly low — mainly based on concerns about the source material (no memorable villains, not much interesting personality, not conventionally useful superpowers, etc). In actuality, it’s a consistently funny movie with reasonably good fight scenes. Right now it’s averaging 79% on RT and I think that’s about right. Some observations:
–The main villain is a one-dimensionally psychotic businessman. His lack of style and depth is probably my biggest knock against the movie. At the very least, if you absolutely need a psychotic businessman (which has already been used quite heavily in superhero movies), I feel that other movies have blazed this path better. E.g. generally Spider-Man 1′s Harry Osborne and Incredibles’ Syndrome felt like they could be real people with major mental issues. Not so much here. That said, I really liked the scene where the villain asked his mentor Dr. Pym why he kept the villain at such a distance. At the very least, the villain did give a really good opportunity to develop a side-protagonist’s personality.
–Using reformed sort-of-criminal* Scott Lang rather than generically brilliant scientist Dr. Pym as the main protagonist was an excellent choice. I think we’re overstocked on brilliant scientists at this point.
*He committed one theft, a Robin Hood-style crime where he returned the money to people that a company had overcharged them. The filmmakers softened the edges on his criminal work so much that it didn’t look like they were completely convinced that a criminal-turned-superhero could work. For PG-13 movies, I prefer the Guardians of the Galaxy mold (where protagonists have more latitude to at least talk about committing selfish crimes**, even if most of the things they actually do aren’t).
**Even removing someone’s spine, which is actually murder, and also illegal.
–In the comics, Scott Lang gets back into crime to help his sick daughter. Boohoohoo. In this case, it was to make child support payments (after a hilarious failure at Baskin Robbins), which felt a lot less cheesy/generic than the comic version.
–The side-cast in this movie and the (somewhat outre) comedy were much better than anyone had any right to expect. E.g. I believe comedic side-character Luis was created for the movie, which must have been a series of leaps of creative faith. “I know this guy, Michael Pena. Well, my cousin was at this PTA meeting, you know, and…”
–Falcon’s cameo is probably the closest he’s come to being interesting, especially when Luis goes into storytelling mode for the second time. I’d also say that this is so far the most interesting SHIELD/Avengers cameo in any of the Marvel movies so far. Doing it with Falcon (who has not yet shown a personality independent of Captain America*) is just plain impressive.
*E.g. “I do what he (Captain America) does, just slower.” I believe the most charitable interpretation for Falcon is that his main purpose is to replace Captain America if/when Captain America’s actor Chris Evans stops making CA movies. He’s essentially a slow-rolling reboot. Okay, but I have to think that coming up with a contingency plan for Robert Downey Jr./Iron-Man is a much higher priority, though — his movies gross more and he fits more naturally into a maverick role that allows him to contribute to Avengers movies in ways that Captain America can’t/probably shouldn’t. The closest character they have a replacement for Iron-Man, if/when it comes to that, would be Ant-Man, who would be a pretty major downgrade. Unfortunately, the character who probably is the most promising personality fit for the role is a talking raccoon, which I’m guessing is a disqualification here.