With a dozen Marvel films released in the last eight years and another 10 scheduled to hit theaters over the next decade, it’s easy for moviegoers to develop signs of comic book fatigue. As much as I enjoyed last year’s twin success stories of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” (both making my Top 10 Movies of 2014 list), I felt the Marvel comic collection was getting close to over-saturating its product in theaters.
In order for Marvel to avoid losing its appeal to viewers, it must continue to make exceptional films similar to 2014.
After this past spring’s good — but not great — “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Marvel needed to score a blockbuster hit. Badly. Thankfully, “Ant-Man” provides the studio and comic book fans the winning run and a return to marvelous cinema glory for the studio.
Comedian Paul Rudd (Anchorman) makes his Marvel debut as a just released convict that has served his time for burglary and theft and who only wants to reconnect with his daughter.
However, a distraught biophysicist Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym (superbly played by Michael Douglas) must try to convince the younger Rudd to put on his “Ant-Man” superhero suit in order to stop evil-doers. The combination of Rudd, Douglas and former television leading lady Evangeline Lilly (“Kate” from ABC’s hit TV show Lost) team up to provide us with exceptional storytelling and humor.
Following the successful pattern of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” this film centers on a single character (Rudd) surrounded by a funny and intriguing supporting cast. Rudd skillfully ignites the movie’s lighter moments with clever lines, silly smirks and spot-on comedic timing. The banter and charisma exuded by Rudd’s Scott Lang character is easily comparable to the likes of funnymen Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark’s “Iron Man” or Chris Pratt’s space adventurer Star-Lord in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Yes, Rudd’s performance is that uplifting and strong. Nearly as refreshing to the audience is the significant, heavy-lifting Michael Douglas does to move the whole “Ant-Man” narrative along the big-screen.
First-time Marvel series director Peyton Reed shines as a patient storyteller willing to take the smaller plot steps in order to adequately explain how “Ant-Man” and suit were created in the Pym family business. Reed meticulously balances the humor within the common man Rudd with the scientific and well-mannered demeanor of Douglas.
With Rudd already penned for next year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” expect to learn even more about “Ant-Man,” his Avenger connections and the importance of Dr. Hank Pym to overall Marvel Comics machine. Any existing symptoms of viewer fatigue to the Avenger collection will undoubtedly subside if future films are as entertaining and well explained as this gem. Following established Marvel tradition, be sure to stay after “Ant-Man” for two post-credit scenes that provide quick snapshots into future of the comic book series.