Ant-Man Movie Review: Paul Rudd and Peyton Reed Attempt to Reduce Marvel’s Scale and Intergalactic Reach

Review: Almost a decade after Paul Rudd’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man continues to be the MCU’s cookie cutter formula – for better and for worse. Its comedic charm does wonders for a movie struggling to find any real bite or new ideas.

Ant-Man Review MCU Scott Lang Marvel movie 2015

It’s been almost a decade since Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man first hit theaters (just typing that made me want to take a break from reality) and the franchise is about to see its third iteration hit the big screen later this week. Quantumania is going to take Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang to a cosmic level to fight villains the universe has never seen before, so I thought it would be appropriate to take some time and rewatch and reflect on how we got to where we are today.

Ant-Man was Marvel’s *literal* attempt at bringing the cinematic universe down to ground level and decreasing its cosmic grasp on narrative storytelling. Producing repeated intergalactic tales was surely going to end in viewer fatigue for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (just check the overall response for every movie released by the studio post-Endgame. People are inevitably getting sick of Marvel attempting to up their own stakes with every new superhero flick).

For what it’s attempting to do, Ant-Man hits many of the right beats. For going with a grounded, journeyman story, I’m not sure you could do better than Paul Rudd in the leading role. He’s charming and completely believable as an everyday human being – although pinning him with a backstory of an ex-convict trying to reconcile with his life outside of prison may be a bit of a stretch for an actor with credits including Clueless, Anchorman, and Phoebe’s love interest in Friends.

The movie relies solely on trying to transform Rudd into a believable superhero in a mega-budget action/heist romp. It works a majority of the time as his humane relationships to close friends and his daughter carry the emotional crux for a film dying to establish another tentpole in a larger cinematic universe. He’s great as Ant-Man, and given that the titular hero resembles an animal as inconspicuous as an ant, Rudd is a phenomenal choice.

And the MCU should feel fortunate that they hit on the right man to lead this project in front of the camera, because Paul Rudd’s charisma as Scott Lang carries a film that otherwise feels like such an average attempt at introducing a new hero. He essentially lucks into the role of Ant-man, and the trip along the way feels as forced and calculated as almost anything the MCU has done. Michael Douglas plays the mad scientist in control of creating the shapeshifting suit, and he continues to be one of the most insufferable characters in the MCU.

Evangeline Lilly plays Hope van Dyne – the daughter of Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) and Scott Lang’s love interest in the back half of this story. Although she comes off unnaturally mysterious and stiff towards the beginning, she’s really come into her own as a character as the franchise has moved forward. She eventually dons the suit opposite of Ant-Man as the Wasp and her contributions have been deeply felt ever since.

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Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), aka Yellowjacket, plays the role of main antagonist in Ant-Man and feels largely like a caricature rather than a unique and developed supervillain. Many of these movies that serve as superhero introductions generally contain average supervillains as they dedicate a hefty amount of time towards the main character’s backstory and training moments. Yellowjacket essentially plays the role of stand-in villain so that the movie can have a climactic end battle.

Fortunately for Ant-Man, that end battle is overflowing with neat set design and action sequences that redeem some of the slower paced moments up to that point. The fly trap sequence is excellent and hilarious, and the train set design is brilliant as well. MCU movies have begun to feel like CGI noise when it comes to the larger action set pieces, so it’s refreshing to revisit a movie that constantly makes me wonder how they thought of certain sequences or ideas. To this day, the ending moments of Ant-Man continue to be a breath of fresh air to come back to.

Overall, the movie can feel relatively safe, yet it accomplishes exactly what it set out to do. Despite some slow pacing that adds to a runtime that certainly could’ve trimmed about fifteen minutes, Ant-Man continues to be one of Marvel’s more successful superhero introductions into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I imagine Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is going to push the lore beyond planet boundaries, and for I feel a bit hesitant, but the writers and director Peyton Reed haven’t failed me yet.


Genre: ActionAdventureSci-FiSuperhero

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Ant-Man Cast and Credits

Ant-Man movie poster 2015


Paul Rudd as Scott Lang

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne

Michael Peña as Luis

Corey Stoll as Darren Cross / Yellowjacket

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon

Bobby Cannavale as Paxton

Judy Greer as Maggie

David Dastmalchian as Kurt

Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie

Wood Harris as Gale


Director: Peyton Reed

Writers: Paul RuddEdgar WrightAdam McKayJoe Cornish, Stan Lee

Cinematography: Russell Carpenter

Editors: Dan Lebental Colby Parker Jr.

Composer: Christophe Beck

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