There was a time when the future of Marvel’s latest endeavour, Ant-Man, looked pretty bleak. When director Edgar Wright exited the project, many questions were asked of the studio, and how they would respond to such a dramatic shift so soon before shooting. However, by bringing in Peyton Reed at the helm, and hiring Adam McKay to help revise the original screenplay written by Wright and Joe Cornish, Marvel have managed to completely pull it out of the bag (again), as Ant-Man is yet another triumphant and unspeakably entertaining endeavour that sits pretty in their ever-expanding universe.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a crook, fresh out of prison following a high-profile robbery a few years earlier. Living with his former inmate Luis (Michael Pena), he struggles to tie down a job, and as such isn’t granted as much access to his daughter as he would like. But then he’s presented the opportunity to make a difference, and to convince his ex-partner (Judy Greer) and her husband, and cop, Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), that he can still be a part of his offspring’s life, when Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) gets in touch.
Pym feels threatened by the current owner of his former business Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), when the latter starts to dig up old, secret plans, with the intention of shrinking human beings to the size of insects. With potentially dangerous intentions, Pym knows that he must fight fire with fire, and resurrect Ant-Man, entrusting the role to Scott – as the pair, alongside the doctor’s daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), attempt to pull of a seemingly impossible heist, in a bid to save mankind from Cross’ nefarious intentions.
Though Wright and Cornish left the project, their impressive, tongue-in-cheek screenplay still stands, and the film thrives in its comedic capacity. It’s droll-witted and manages to be consistently funny throughout, without ever compromising the severity of the narrative, as Reed manages to balance the action with the pathos with the humour in a truly accomplished fashion – much like Guardians of the Galaxy managed. This film is far from the stony-faced, sombre offerings from the likes of Nolan’s Batman trilogy or Man of Steel – instead revelling in the more entertaining, playful aspects of the blockbuster. That is encapsulated by Rudd, who completely shines in the title role. He has such a charm and affability about his demeanour, but at the same time we believe in him being a superhero, which was the initial worry.
Ant-Man taps into our inherent, playful nature, following on from the likes of Toy Story to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or even The Borrowers – it’s that notion of battles taking place behind our backs (or down by our feet), with miniature people fighting wars that have huge implications on mankind. It makes for such an enjoyable experience, while it’s also great to witness an origin story, as they so often tend to be the most absorbing superhero endeavours. But Ant-Man, just like Iron Man, has the potential to just keep getting bigger and better.