Marvel Studios enraged fanboys across the internet when they parted ways with Edgar Wright, the original director of Ant-Man. Wright had been working on the project for over a decade and even though Marvel tried to make the departure seem like a mutual decision, it was clear that Wright had been canned. He was a director who wanted to make the film his way and this directly clashed with the assembly-line production of films that Marvel has been churning out lately. So Marvel brought on Peyton Reed to finish the project, someone who could take all of Wright’s ideas and blandly transplant them onto the screen. Luckily, Ant-Man serves as an interesting new character in the Marvel cinematic universe. The unique concept of the character and some solid humor are able to elevate what would have been another forgettable superhero film. Still, you can’t help but wonder how great this could have been with Edgar Wright at the helm.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an expert burglar who has just been released from prison. He’s attempting to leave his life of crime behind so he can properly raise his daughter, but he’s having a difficult time with it, especially when he lives with his best friend/criminal associate, Luis (Michael Peña). When Lang’s criminal past prevents him from getting a job, Luis informs him of an easy burglary and Lang reluctantly agrees. He breaks into the house of former S.H.I.E.L.D agent Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and steals a suit that allows him to shrink down to the size of a small insect. Pym actually wants Lang to use the suit in order to help him and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) break into a high-tech corporate building and prevent a former associate from militarizing a similar suit.

Ant-Man is undeniably a lot of fun, but watching it is to continually be reminded of Edgar Wright’s absence. It seems like Reed is trying to emulate Wright’s style, which is painfully obvious through the film’s use of whip pan edits. This is mostly used in a sequence where Luis explains how he received a tip on a job and the scene feels so much like something that Wright would do that you can’t help but miss him. There are also a few comedic moments that are written into the script that seem to be influenced by the kind of comedy that Wright has become known for. But, luckily, the majority of the comedy is successful and this proves to be one of Marvel’s funniest outings. What ultimately brings the film down the most is its reliance on connecting everything to past Marvel films. It seems like the producers of these films are so intent on universe building that they cram in every single reference to other films in the franchise that they possibly can. It’s distracting and an overall annoyance when characters and locations pop up that don’t belong in an Ant-Man movie.

But when the script focuses on the story and the characters in this film, it proves to be some of Marvel’s best work. More a heist film than a superhero film, it’s refreshing to see a character on a much more personal journey and not attempting to prevent the end of the world. Even though the film’s final battle is pretty stereotypical for this genre, it takes place in a fun, interesting location that makes it way more entertaining and exciting than anything in this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s great to see Paul Rudd as a superhero and Michael Peña absolutely steals the show as the hilarious Luis. Ant-Man is a very good Marvel film and its only disappointment is that we’ll never know if Edgar Wright’s inclusion could have made it one of their very best.

Ant-Man receives 3/4

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