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Saturday 25 July 2015

Ant-Man: Fun, but still a waste of $130 million.

Following this film's much-discussed behind-the-scenes meltdown, my expectations were low. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Ant-Man is a decent movie, if not a particularly interesting one. At the very least, it was more coherent than Age of Ultron.

Both movies were the product of embarrassingly public disputes between their directors and Marvel Studios, but Ant-Man managed to resolve itself into an entertaining (if lightweight) heist movie while AoU was a mess of conflicting subplots and franchise tie-ins: Joss Whedon's weird Black Widow issues and inconsistent characterization vs. Marvel's obsession with clumsy sequel foreshadowing. You could pick out certain scenes in Ant-Man that felt like Edgar Wright's work, but it didn't feel patchy like Thor's bizarre cave-swimming subplot did in Age of Ultron.

Ant-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe

More than any other MCU movie so far, Ant-Man captured the tone of a solo comic in a larger fictional universe: casually acknowledging the existence of other superheroes without going for an actual team-up. We've now reached the point where the MCU is big enough to support cameos from familiar side-characters without it seeming forced, which is great for worldbuilding purposes. It's just too bad this only happened after the departure of Edgar Wright, who wanted to make a standalone movie with (presumably) a more esoteric tone.

Ideally, Marvel should find a happy medium between franchise crossover moments and allowing filmmakers more freedom to make a personal mark. That's why comics like Ms Marvel and Hawkeye are so popular: they have a memorable sense of personality.