There was a lot of apprehension regarding Ant-Man, from the initial idea about whether a superhero with this silly name or powers would even work in our sophisticated world that's move on past the era of comics where you could merge any guy of gal with a particular animal, make him fight Nazis and hope for the long term best. Add in the troubled development that was initially headed by Edgar Wright who stepped down from the film due to creative differences with Marvel and one would have cause for concern.
We will never know how good or bad a Wright-driven film would've been, we're only left with what we have here and now, and I'm pleased to say that Ant-Man is a solid entry as both a debut origin film as well as an in-between chapter in Marvel's connected universe, and is perhaps the best example of how well a stand-alone film can be while simultaneously bringing together elements from Marvel's comics history while setting the ground for other events yet to transpire throughout the next phases.
There is nothing wrong that I can pick apart for Ant-Man. I would rank its entertainment value as being as good as the first Iron-Man, and more entertaining than Thor, but not nearly as good as Guardians of the Galaxy, though to be fair, Guardians was in a league of its own. Ant-Man is a more personal affair about a man, Scott Lang, out of prison for a Robin-Hood noble crime that unfortunately ruptures his marriage and separates him from his wife, now remarried, and his daughter who misses her dad. In a desperate attempt to make money, he returns to crime, but plays into the hands of none other than Hank Pym, who sees in him a candidate worthy of donning the Ant-Man suit he created and donned himself for the service of his nation. Hank is worried that new attempts to replicate his suit's power and mass-manufacture it would prove a threat to the world, which is why he initially buried the Ant-Man and the suit from the records. Now, too old to be a hero himself, he gets Scott to do the job for him - to infiltrate, steal and destroy all research related to the development of miniaturized super-soldiers. Scott is also reluctantly aided by Hank Pym's daughter, Hope, to help Scott train to fight and use the suit's powers alongside another amazing ability to communicate with ants and use them to do his bidding.
There is a fine balance maintained by Marvel with Ant-Man that grounds it in the overall Marvel Universe by maintaining a visual consistency with other films while also keeping a consistent style of humour. Edgar Wright is known for his own unique style of visual storytelling and gags. While the more slapstick nature of Wright's films are absent here, obviously because another director, Peyton Reed stepped up, and of course no doubt there were re-writes, there are moments where one could reasonably see Wright's wittiness being maintained. I can think of at least 3, one of which is obviously the Thomas the Tank Engine moment people have seen in trailers, but it's best to leave you to try and guess the others for yourself! But Peyton Reed does a great job with Ant-Man. Visually, the moments where Ant-Man miniaturizes are amazing and stylish! I believe they even utilized actual miniature photography and composited Paul Rudd in them with some CGI to sell it and it works remarkably well!
There are a lot of cool things to see! Chiefly, that Ant-Man can indeed be quite an incredible hero with incredible powers! He's no slouch, and there is a whole other world of potential that can be done with this character! Despite that Pym and divorced from having anything to do with Ultron, I suspect he'll still play a big role going forward as a valuable contributor to the Avengers, although at this moment of time, Pym himself distrusts both the government, S.H.I.E.L.D. & the Avengers. But by the film's end we are treated to the exciting places the next phase of Marvel is set to go, including the involvement of new characters and the beginnings of Civil War.
Ant-Man manages to both play with the Marvel Universe' past and future. Fans of course will want to stick through the credits as usual for both a mid-credits scene as well as a post-credits scene at the very very end. We are promised that Ant-Man will return and I for one figure that it'll be in Captain America: Civil War, though I wouldn't rule out a hopeful future solo film either!
I guess now with Ant-Man being well received, we can keep our fingers crossed for Squirrel-Girl next, right? Right?