MCU Rewatch Issue #12: Ant-Man

Outside of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man represented another risk taken by Marvel Studios.  A mostly unknown shrinking man that could communicate with ants.  How come no one makes fun of that like they do Aquaman?

tomkAnt-Man

This always struck me as something of an outlier. Paul Rudd is such an unlikely superhero since he already had a nice film career, mostly in comedy, already.

Corey Stoll: good actor, poor choice for a weak role. Then again, that describes so many MCU villains.

Having seen that Liberace movie Michael Douglas made for HBO, I find it really creepy every time he calls someone “Scott.”

tomk: So, Ant-Man was a movie I liked much more the second time I saw it with my brother and his son. I have no explanation for that. It’s something of an odd film to end Phase Two on. It seems the most disconnected from the rest of Phase Two, with some minimal Avengers connections and nothing about Infinity Stones to speak of. It was also something of a troubled production, with Edgar Wright working on it for years before ultimately abandoning the project and I think Patrick Wilson was originally cast as Yellowjacket over Stoll. There are two cases of what might have been right there. But Paul Rudd makes an affable superhero, I generally like Bobby Cannavale in just about anything, and Michael Pena’s perpetually cheerful crook with a knack for storytelling steals the whole movie. Plus, there’s some fine shrinking visuals to be seen here. I’m particularly fond of the Thomas the Tank Engine fight scene, particularly the gag when Yellowjacket gets hit by a train.

jimmy: I can agree with most of that. I’d be very curious to see what Wright’s vision would have been.

That said, on my second viewing, I found Ant-Man was a lot more mediocre than I remembered.

tomk: Mediocre is a good word. I actually think there’s a chance the sequel will be better since it won’t be quite so pieced together with whatever Edgar Wright left behind. It’s kind of amazing this movie was released according to schedule.

jimmy: Having watched the deleted scenes, there is definitely a feeling here of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.

tomk: The deleted scenes reminded me of how a lot of comedies are made today: a good deal of dialogue improv.
Rudd, along with longtime Will Ferrell collaborator and Oscar nominee Adam McKay, were among the four credited with coming up with the story.

jimmy: The story was fine. Everything was just…fine. Outside of Yellowjacket and the almost Macguffin of him only being evil because of the Yellowjacket particles. He’s not much of a villain. Really only someone for Scott to fight in the last 15 minutes. Prior to that it is Scott’s (and somewhat Hank and Hope’s) story and his training, etc.

The Wasp end credits scene was…fine. 🙂
And obviously sets up the sequel.

The final end credit scene was a bit disappointing as it was obviously just some footage that they stole from Civil War.

tomk: It’s not uncommon for the MCU to use another director’s work for the post-credits scene.

jimmy: Yes, but not usually just a straight up scene from the middle of the next movie.

jenny: I guess I can’t get away with “I am Groot” for this discussion.

tomk: You could always answer as Antony.

watson: This movie only works because Paul Rudd is awesome. Jimmy has it right. The film is mostly him. With many other leads, this could have been a BAD movie. Because of Rudd’s charm, it turned out fairly decent.

“Did I ruin the moment? I did, didn’t I?”

tomk: I can largely agree, but I did still dig a lot of the shrinking visuals.

watson: Yeah. A clever gimmick that couldn’t save Matt Damon last year.

tomk: Now I’m thinking how much better Downsizing would have been with Paul Rudd instead.

watson: Heheh. True. And I like Matt Damon.

tomk: But nothing could save The Great Wall

watson: Nothing!

tomk: I also like Damon. He just had a bad year last year.

watson: I didn’t hate Downsizing, but he sure did!

tomkDownsizing was his best work outside a movie we’ll be discussing in a couple weeks!

watson: A cameo I didn’t even notice.

tomk: Neither did I. I thought he looked familiar and couldn’t place the face.
It would have been more noticeable if it were Paul Rudd instead!

watson: Michael Pena though? That guy makes me laugh.

tomk: He makes this movie for me.

watson: How good would Downsizing be if it starred Michael Pena?

tomk: And he was in The Martian with Matt Damon!

watson: He even references an MCU character. And we’re back!

tomk: That’s fine. I am not sure how much I want to discuss Damon’s connection to Michael Douglas.

watson: I didn’t care when Antony died. Not even a little.

tomk: How can a bullet hit a specific ant at all?

watson: The lazy screenwriter’s best friend. Random chance.

tomk: Superhero stories are built on that, but there are limits.

watson: The scene when they are falling and the Cure is playing is inspired.

tomk: Very true.

watson: Followed by the usage of the ping pong paddle.

tomk: Pena’s storytelling apparently came from director Peyton Reed, so that’s a good thing for the sequel.
And right into the bug zapper with the ping pong paddle attack!

watson: When Scott shrinks Yellowjacket before the Thomas scene, why doesn’t HE grow and just squish him?

tomk: Uh, he wanted Yellowjacket to suffer longer?

watson: Just back it up….

tomk: He also didn’t want a hole through his foot?

watson: Back it up. Back it up…
I like Bobby Cannavale and appreciated the character he played here. He could have been a more cliche prick character but he seems like a legitimately good guy that cares about Scott’s family. He’s an antagonist but not a bad guy.

tomk: I am agreeing with Watson again.

Judy Greer, on the other hand, is the stereotypical ex-wife. Considering her role in that same summer’s Jurassic World, she had typecasting issues that year.

watson: She’s almost a non-factor in the film. It wouldn’t be so noticeable if Cannavale did play such a prominent role in this movie.
She has a small part in Ant-Man. Giggle.

tomk: He had more screen time than she did!
Like how Jonathan had more to say than Jenny about Age of Ultron!

watson: Latest Stan Lee cameo in a film? Very last sequence!

tomkCivil War?

watson: He had already appeared once.
Or did he appear in Pena’s first story here as well?

tomk: He did not.
You actually hear his voice in Civil War.

watson: He has lines in several cameos.
Age of Ultron he has a couple.

tomk: But he just mouths some words here.
You asked if this was his latest cameo. He appeared in the last scene here and in Civil War.

watson: But I meant was the latest he made his first appearance? He appeared twice in Civil War, right? Or am I think of GotG2?

tomkGotG2.

watson: Yeah. Tony Stank! That’s right.
That was a good one.

tomk: A cameo he references in GotG2!

watson: God, I love Stan Lee. I hate that he’s having troubles this late in life.

tomk: Yeah, methinks Jack Kirby’s family may not go along with that, but otherwise I’m right there with ya.

watson: Kirby was a bitter fuck. When you have a partnership like Lee had with Kirby, you don’t go around later in life itemizing your contributions.
It’s like McCartney wanting to switch the Lennon-McCartney writing credit on some of the works we already knew were purely a “Paul.”
Everyone knows Kirby was a genius. Why did he need to shit on Stan?

tomk: Because Kirby felt he got robbed and Stan played the company line.
Stan apparently regretted it later, but he did take a lot of solo credit for a while there.

watson: I know. He was always pissed Stan got rich but it was not because he owned a ton of Marvel. It’s because he was the happy warrior.
Are you talking about the Mallrats thing?

tomk: Yeah, no arguments. Kirby wanted more than he was given and that wasn’t how the industry worked.
It’s like comparing Siegel and Shuster’s treatment to Bob Kane’s, and Bob Kane was a legitimate asshole given how he treated Bill Finger.

watson: Stan Lee calling himself the creator of the Marvel Universe as a short-hand description is not terribly inaccurate. Alex Ross can eat a bag of dicks.
Yeah. Finger got screwed. And that was really Kane’s doing. Not just a big company giving Finger the finger.

tomk: Kane also had the advantage of having a copyright lawyer on his side when he sold the company Batman.
Kane never had to worry about rubbing two nickles together for the rest of his life.

watson: Kirby’s late life bitterness is chronicled well in a thinly disguised character in a really great indie comic series that’s name escapes me.
It shares a name with another work of fiction, I think. The main character had writer’s block on his alternate history where McCartney died instead of Lennon.

tomk: All I know is there are a lot of Kirby boosters who think he did most if not all of the work, and I view it more as a collaborative effort. Heck, Stan wrote a Spider-Man story back then showing how he and Ditko came up with Spider-Man stories that did show it as a collaborative effort (and in a somewhat comedic manner).

watson: (Oddly this was before Paul wanted to switch credits with John, so that’s odd…)
I think most fans know that Lee was more a business guy and a showman than a genius creator. He painted in broad strokes and others filled in the gaps.

tomk: And promotion is a vital part of any business.

watson: But it’s amazing how all the characters he helped with became iconic and timeless.

tomk: Yeah, and that includes Ant-Man in his second live action appearance.

watson: Liked the Garrett Morris cameo in Ant-Man.

tomk: It was nice. I’ve always liked those sorts of Easter eggs.

watson: It was an ok sort of wink. Sure I’m taken out a second, but Morris is naturally funny and the scene was a solid piece of comedy.

tomk: And it was a nice capper to Scott’s first shrinking scene.

tomk: You know, for a movie we find generally mediocre, Watson and I sure had a lot to say.

watson: I like Paul Rudd…

tomk: So do I.

jimmy: You guys had a lot to say…I’m not sure how much of it was about Ant-Man though…

I was wondering what was up with the random Garrett Morris cameo.

tomk: It was an old SNL skit. You can find the video online but not on YouTube. I looked.

watson: I can’t see Garrett Morris without wondering why he isn’t shouting his lines. His role as President of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing is so iconic.

Almost as iconic as Madama Xanadu.

jimmy: Almost.

watson: I got ahead of myself. Sorry. Won’t happen again.

tomk: We all got ahead of the Newmans.

watson: That’s because we don’t start these chats at the same time. It’s a Tom review with me followed by me and Jimmy making stupid jokes.
The Newmans watch on on Sunday night. Every! Single! Week! 🙂

tomk: I anxiously await Jenny’s contrary opinion.

jonathan: Ok, so i think i enjoy Ant-Man more than most.
I love heist movies and humorous montages, and Peyton Reed gave me both without feeling lame.
Yellowjacket is mostly stupid and pitiful, but i don’t even care. It’s like, nobody is shitting on the villain in Muppets Most Wanted, and that’s more or less what we have here.
There are some 9s and 10s in the visuals and site gags.

jimmy: The Thomas scene is great…except I saw it 500 times beforehand in the trailer.

Seems like we’re running out of steam after that Thomas reference. One thing this movie did make me want was more of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne as the original Ant-Man and Wasp. Doing SHIELD missions. Saving the world. Ryan would hate it because he knows how it ends, but that aspect seemed pretty interesting.

tomk: You want him to pop that guy played by Martin Donovan again. You just know that guy’s shifty.

jimmy: Well, he was Hydra.

tomk: Besides, I seem to recall Ryan getting upset because he thought they recast Howard Stark.

jimmy: That’s true.

tomk: And I thought the Avengers finally got all of HYDRA. Way to slack off, Thor…

jimmy: He was busy not being in Civil War.

tomk: Maybe some other Marvel hero is still working on that. Anyone seen Stingray, Foolkiller, or Nightwatch recently?

jimmy: No. But we did have the obligatory Falcon cameo. Anthony Mackie has finally made it! You know you’re grasping at straws when Falcon is your cameo Avenger. No offense Sam.

tomk: They needed an Avenger Scott could take in a fight at that point in his training.

jimmy: Fair enough though. Was there anyone else he could have beaten?

tomk: Stingray, Foolkiller, or Nightwatch?
Technician #3?
The guy who drove the Bridgelayer for G.I. Joe?

jimmy: Tollbooth.

tomk: Yeah. That guy. I don’t think he even had legs since he never got out of that thing on the old cartoon.

jimmy: Well, we’re starting to get silly. Should we move onto scores?

tomk: What did Jenny think?

jimmy: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

watson: Solid Tollbooth reference. Can’t top that so I am all for rankin this bad boy.
I give Ant-Man 7.5 “Baskin Robbins Always Finding Outs” out of 10.

tomk: I’m a bit stuck between an 8 and a 7.5 so let’s say 7.75 “Why did you end Phase Two here”s out of 10.

jimmy: I’m going to go with 7.5 “I ruined the moment didn’t I?” out of 10.

watson: This does seem like the beginning of Phase Three.

jimmy: It does. I’m not sure what makes it one or the other, outside of wanting to begin Phase 3 with Civil War.

watson: Actually, wouldn’t Civil War have been just as good of an ending of a Phase?

jimmy: Yes. Especially since Phase 3 seems neverending.

watson: It ends with the Stingray, Foolkiller, or Nightwatch crossover film
(And I think Tom knows I have pitched a Foolkiller film before the MCU was even a thing. I think he included him to spite me)

jonathan: I’m going with 8 Disintegration Fights out of 10

tomk: I had forgotten every Foolkiller pitch but included him for having an amusing name.

watson: Adapting the 90s limited series would be a great MCU drama.
Or a Netflix series.

tomk: I included Nightwatch because of Jimmy.
And Stingray’s mask points at his crotch, which is good enough reason for me.

jimmy: Jenny? You have a score this go round?

jenny: ANT-MAN 8 Sucker Punches from A Soon-To-Be Wasp out of 10

jimmy: Nice.
Ok Calcutron-2024, show us what you got…

…_Bee-boop-beep_…
…_Calculating_…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 10.0
Iron Man 9.4
Guardians Of The Galaxy 9.4
The Avengers 9.3
Captain America: The First Avenger 8.7
Thor 8.0
Ant-Man 7.8
Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.6
The Incredible Hulk 6.7
Iron Man 2 6.6
Iron Man 3 6.6
Thor: The Dark World 6.6

MCU overall 8.1
Phase 1 8.1
Phase 2 8.0

Surprisingly, Phase 2 holds up, only a percentage point back of Phase 1. Though Phase 2 was more about extremes. It gave us 2 of our top 3 films so far, but also 2 of the worst.

jenny: How is Ant-Man behind Thor!? That’s wackadoodle.

jimmy: It’s not as good?

jenny: Hmmmmm – I wonder, what did I score Thor? I’ll have to go back and look.

jimmy: 8…same as Ant-Man.
Myself, Tom and Watson had Thor higher. Jenny had it the same. Jonathan had Ant-Man higher. But all close scores.

jenny: Past Jenny should have rated Thor 7.5

jimmy: Sorry, we only deal with Present Jenny

jenny: Too bad we don’t have a beep-boop-time-machine
She’s much nicer.

jimmy: Indeed.

Next up, Phase 3 begins with Civil War. And the debut of these two unimportant characters.

jenny: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
It’s going to be so gooooooooood!

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