Joseph Austin reviews Marvel’s latest addition to its cinematic universe – Ant-Man.
Just how do you follow one of the biggest superhero movies of all time?
Go bigger, right? Wrong.
Arriving straight off the back of megabucks super-sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, you’d think the story of a low-life crook’s road to redemption was pretty small fry for the ever-expanding Marvel cinematic universe.
But you know what they say, good things come in small packages, and Ant-Man is no exception.
Hilarious, heroic and full of heart, Ant-Man more than measures up to its super-powered peers as one of Marvel’s most enjoyable films to date.
Bringing the MCU’s Phase Two to an end, Ant-Man feels more like a fresh start than the closing of a grand chapter.
But it’s just what the doctor ordered after Tony Stark’s evil A.I. went rogue and levelled an entire city.
This film has a human core. Well, sure, there’s ants too.
Enter Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) – a jailbird who vows to go straight for the sake of his daughter.
But hard times and the thrill of one more bust pulls Lang back into the world of crime.
The loot, however, isn’t a safe full of money. Nor is it precious stones from galaxies far, far away.
Little does he know that the beat-up black & red leather suit he finds is actually the creation of super scientist Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
Donning the suit, helmet ‘n’ all, Lang discovers that this is no ordinary outfit – shrinking down to the size of an insect at the touch of a button, giving him super-strength and the ability to communicate with ants!
Busting him out of jail, Pym recruits Lang as the Ant-Man in order stop his former protégé, Darren Cross (House of Cards’ Corey Stoll), from weaponizing Pym’s greatest invention, the Pym particle.
It has to be said that while Yes Man director Peyton Reed’s film was never going to take itself too seriously, Ant-Man is without doubt the funniest Marvel film yet.
I mean, it’s pretty much an action-comedy and Reed absolutely nails it.
Just how much of the script from parting director and co-writer Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) actually made it in to the film is something we’ll probably never know.
Citing creative differences, Wright left the project weeks before filming was due to start.
But there’s no doubt that Wright’s presence can be felt throughout the film, as well as that of Anchorman director Adam McKay, who adjusted the script with the delightfully funny and extremely well cast Paul Rudd.
Marvelites will be licking their lips at the prospect of Rudd’s Ant-Man, Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man firing jokes and trading insults in upcoming movies. I, for one, can’t wait.
Staying with funny and almost stealing Rudd’s thunder is the hilarious Michael Peña (End of Watch, Fury), who plays Lang’s burglar sidekick.
Expect to see him again somewhere down the line in a Marvel feature.
Another masterstroke from Marvel was deciding to go for an older Hank Pym in Michael Douglas.
Pym is the original Ant-Man in the comics and one of the founding members of The Avengers.
Playing the role of mentor, the veteran actor still packs a punch, quite literally, and gives a real hearty performance.
Pym’s daughter Hope, played by The Hobbit’s Evangeline Lilly, also plays a key role in proceedings. Expect to see her again in the future too.
We’ve seen dimensions intertwined and cities razed to the ground, but not until now have you seen the intricate details of carpet fibres!
Ant-Man boasts some of Marvel’s best visual effects yet and they’re even more astonishing in 3D.
With all six of its legs firmly placed in the MCU and with Rudd’s character set to appear in Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man certainly feels like a movie that’d work just as brilliantly outside of its larger canon.
Whether you watch it as part of a Marvel marathon, or as a standalone flick, Ant-Man is this summer’s superhero sensation. And it won’t be squashed.