Hero gets on his super suit
Representing one of Marvel studios’ bigger gambles, Paul Rudd brings the pint-sized hero to life on the big screen for the first time.
Armed with a super suit that allows him to shrink in size and grow in strength, Rudd’s conman Scott Lang teams up with mentor Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to try to pull off a heist that may just save the world.
Being little-known in mainstream minds did Iron Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy no harm but it’s safe to say the Ant-Man character needed some introducing to non-comic book aficionados.
Combine this with original director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) departing the project due to creative differences, and the buzz for Marvel’s latest expansion of its cinematic universe was patchy at best.
We needn’t have worried: Ant-Man is yet another home run for a studio that has done little wrong thus far, effectively combining scifi, comedy, heroics and Ocean’s Eleven-style heist capers.
Crucially, especially given the less jawdropping second Avengers movie, there is a freshness to this adventure, not least in the superb set pieces that cleverly play with the size differences between Rudd’s reluctant hero and the world around him.
Peyton Reed (Bring It On, The Break-Up) may not have been an obvious choice to replace Wright in the director’s chair but his magnificent use of everything from pointof-view shots and placing of rats as deadly opponents to a battle staged around a Thomas the Tank Engine train set give Ant-Man a delightful, disorienting visual style.
Wright is still given a story credit – with other contributors including Rudd, Anchorman director Adam McKay and Joe Cornish.
With such a comedic crew on board, it’s no surprise there are more than a few laughs; Michael Peña, in particular, is a riot as Scott’s partner-in-crime Luis.
The plot takes a while to really kick in, but Rudd’s likeable crook-turned-Avenger keeps us entertained and Douglas – clearly having a ball in the Marvel world – and Lost’s Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne) shine as Scott’s gatekeepers to heroism.
Faring less well, though, is Corey Stoll as villain Darren Cross. His technology and business-obsessed antagonist is like a re-run of Jeff Bridges’s turn in Iron Man as Marvel continues to find it tough providing its superheroes with worthy adversaries not named Loki.
As ever, there are nods to the wider Marvel cinematic universe – past, present and future this time – but they don’t feel shoehorned in and all play a key role in developments.
More intimate than the Avengers and the studio’s best introduction to a character since Iron Man, Ant-Man is a blast from start to finish, leaving plenty of room for this cool, charismatic customer to grow.
Giant presence Paul Rudd makes for a likeable Ant-Man