Director Peyton Reed Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, Bobby Cannavale
So at this point in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe there are two types of superhero: the most famous and the ones that only the die-hard comic nerds will know. Let’s face it, they aren’t lesser superheroes but the average movie-goer isn’t too fussed about them, and Ant Man does fall into this category. Maybe it’s just me but this lack of familiarity does leave you with a lower expectation in terms of quality. In particular with Ant-Man the word that this would be a light-hearted comedy inter-sped with Marvel’s signature action and drama had me doubting its potential.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that for me this is actually a good thing, because once the two hour run-time had glided past and I was eagerly waiting for the post-credits scene I realised Ant-Man is a incredibly fun, exciting heist film. The riskiest aspect of the script, the aforementioned light tone and comedy, which it has in abundance in comparison to some of the other MCU films, is its greatest strength.
But why take such a risk? I couldn’t answer this question until after the film was over. I hadn’t read the reviews because I already knew what potential shortcomings they were going to target, and a conversation with the dudette made me realise the concept of Ant-Man as a superhero is its own greatest enemy. A superhero whose abilities are shrinking and control of ants isn’t the best sell, but the film-makers knew this so they rather than try and convince these detractors otherwise they instead acknowledge it for what it is by identifying the humorous potential and embracing the ridiculousness. By successfully blending this comedy with drama and action they’ve created an MCU film that is quite distinct when it could have just as easily been lost in the shuffle.
The casting reflects this directive. Paul Rudd isn’t exactly at the top of anyone’s list of potential superhero portrayals but when coupled with the characterisation and the comedy it works perfectly (it’s no surprise he had a hand in the writing). But by ingeniously casting veteran Michael Douglas as a support director Peyton Reed has his bases covered. The rest of the cast, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena and Bobby Cannavale, all put in solid performances that represent and combine the action, drama and comedy that creates Ant-Man.
Because of my initial expectations I was pleasantly surprised by the results and with a better understanding I was able to appreciate Ant-Man. I now realise the advantages of choosing the man who could ant over the plethora of superheroes in Marvel’s catalogue because its extensive use of Marvel’s mythology ties in perfectly to the overall universe. In a way one of the motivators behind Reed and screenwriters Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Adam McKay is justifying his inclusion and through their particular interpretation they’ve achieved that. For me (and the dudette, who was even less likely to enjoy this film) condescension has turned into appreciation.
All because I lowered my expectations. I should do that more often.