I’m not a movie critic by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about Marvel’s latest movie, “Ant-Man.” Five thoughts, to be precise.
1) First off, it’s a welcome de-escalation of stakes. That doesn’t mean what happens isn’t important, but there’s a localization of the action that is a much needed tonic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Much like TV shows that think they have to consistently go darker or more convoluted the longer they go, so too was the MCU in danger of dropping universe-shattering plots into every movie. After a while, audiences get numb to that level of threat. Having smaller conflicts that occasionally erupt into enormous ones will add variety to the films and make those truly epic encounters count.
2) The scene in which Ant-Man and Yellojacket face off inside a briefcase falling to earth represents one of the most creative action sequences in the MCU’s run to date. It MIGHT be the most creative, but I don’t want to overreact so close to seeing it. It didn’t quite have the visceral nature of the elevator fight in “Winter Soldier” or the sheer “oh my god I’m seeing a splash page come to life” of the assembled one-shot in “The Avengers,” but it’s safe to say we’ve never seen anything like this briefcase sequence before. As Marvel dips into new characters, hopefully it will allow for visual sequences like this that make each part of the overall saga its own. (And if they all use songs by The Cure, I’m OK with that. I bet you could build a successful action sequence in “Doctor Strange” edited around “Charlotte Sometimes.”)
3) I’m torn on Hope’s role in this film. I get that Hank Pym is keeping her out of action due to the trauma of losing Janet van Dyne, but the mid-credits stinger just made me wish they had activated Evangeline Lilly more in this film. “It’s about time” is a meta wink at Marvel’s own inability to truly create a cast of credible female superheroes, but also doesn’t erase the fact that Hope did very little other than complain about having nothing to do. While she does help the heist, I wished “Ant-Man” had found a way to note Hank’s idiocy AND let her kick some ass as The Wasp.
4) Michael Peña had the thirty-five best lines of this film. He literally did nothing wrong in the entire film. In fact, he was so good, I want him to be the one to eventually explain Infinity Stones once and for all via the method employed in this film. You can’t tell me you’d rather hear James Brolin talk about the Infinity Gauntlet than Michael Peña’s rendition via a guy who knew a girl who knew a guy who knew Howard The Duck.
5) While it might seem like a carbon-copy of the recent “X-Men” films, I wouldn’t mind some MCU films set throughout the 20th century after watching the opening scene of “Ant-Man.” Much like the “Star Wars” Anthology series, these wouldn’t have to necessarily connect with the current storylines but rather just provided an entry point to characters and stories that might not work in the present day. Given how freakishly good the de-aging of Michael Douglas looked (we’ve come a long ass way from “TRON: Legacy”), you wouldn’t even have to recast younger versions of existing characters. And hey, if you want to do Scott Lang’s origin story, you can always use Paul Rudd, because he never ages and probably has a picture of himself hidden away in order to maintain his youthful glow.