When all of this began, Kevin Feige stated that each phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would end with an Avengers movie. Despite Feige’s quote, Phase 2 ends not with “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but with “Ant-Man” and that’s where we find ourselves in our Marvel Studios Retrospective series.
It’s an odd choice, really. Ant-Man is much smaller in scope (in more ways than one) than the other movies. “Iron Man 3” took us all over the country, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” took us all over the world, “Thor: The Dark World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” took us all over the galaxy and “Captain America: Winter Soldier” sent ripples all throughout the MCU. Ant-Man stayed in San Francisco and the villain wasn’t trying to take over and/or destroy the world. He just wanted to sell his tech to make a bunch of money. This movie is also so different in tone than its predecessor, Age of Ultron, that it’s almost jarring. Phase 2 of the MCU took a much darker turn than Phase 1 culminating with the destruction of Sokovia. But instead of ending on that note, Marvel chose to remind us that not all is doom and gloom by giving us a comedic heist film reminiscent of the first Iron Man movie (both in its light-heartedness and, let’s be honest, its overall plot).
We would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the fiasco with Edgar Wright. Wright had been working on an Ant-Man script since before the MCU started and, for a long time, was set to direct. A year before this movie was set to release, it was announced that Wright left the project due to the all-inclusive excuse “creative differences.” Movies changing directors isn’t new to Hollywood in general or the MCU specifically, but many fans are still upset about this particular change. We’ll never know exactly what Wright had in mind for Ant-Man but perhaps seeing his latest movie Baby Driver, another heist movie, might give us a hint as to his original vision.
Peyton Reed came on shortly after to take over as director and did a great job. Here’s a piece of trivia for you Disney Parks fans: Peyton Reed also directed the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience film.
Ant-Man works well enough as a stand-alone superhero movie, adding to the ever-growing list of origin story movies but it’s most effective as a sort of epilogue to the MCU Phase 2. Not only does Ant-Man make reference to the movies before it (the scene where he fights Falcon is one of the highlights of the film) but it also sows some seeds for future movies like “Captain America: Civil War,” “Doctor Strange” and even “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
What did you think of Ant-Man when it was first released? Have your thoughts changed over the years?