Marvel Studios will soon release Ant-Man in theaters, thus formally completing Phase II of its Cinematic Universe in the process. The film stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a convicted thief who get a chance to redeem himself when approached by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) - a scientist who has devised size-altering technology that has fallen into the wrong hands, and now he needs Scott (along with his band of thieves) to steal it back.
Ant-Man was one of the first projects Marvel Studios put into development (alongside Iron Man), with Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright onboard as the helmsman. One thing led to another, though, and after working on the project for several years, Wright stepped down as director on Ant-Man shortly (as in, a month, maybe less) before production was set to begin.
The Ant-Man comic book film adaptation was thereafter quickly reworked, with Rudd and Adam McKay (director of the Anchorman movies) handling script revision duties and Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) settling in as the new director. So, following the long development process and significant last-minute changes, did Ant-Man turn out well enough to be considered the next success story for Marvel Studios, creatively-speaking?
Here's what some of the first Ant-Man reviews to hit the 'Net have to say:
Variety - Justin Chang
Though we can mourn the more stylish and inventive stand-alone caper we might have gotten from director Edgar Wright... this enjoyably off-the-cuff franchise starter takes a cue from its incredible shrinking protagonist... and emerges with a smaller-scaled, bigger-hearted origin story than most comicbook heroes are typically granted.
THR - Todd McCarthy
Although the story dynamics are fundamentally silly and the family stuff, with its parallel father-daughter melodrama, is elemental button-pushing, a good cast led by a winning Paul Rudd puts the nonsense over in reasonably disarming fashion.
The Wrap - Alonso Duralde
There are individual pieces of the movie that work wonderfully, whether it’s Douglas’ performance or the execution of the heist... complete with 1970s wacka-chicka guitar riffs... Unfortunately, this is also the kind of movie where talented actors do some of their least notable work... [with] Rudd having all the charm and charisma stomped out of him.
Coming Soon - Edward Douglas
Ant-Man is more good than great, and while that’s disappointing when compared to some of the better Marvel Studios flicks, it could have been a lot worse and that in itself is a small miracle.
Forbes - Scott Mendelson
['Ant-Man'] is pretty good, with some strong comic beats and a generally enjoyable story. But with the obvious caveat that this isn’t intended to be a major Marvel event like The Winter Soldier, this is perhaps Marvel’s thinnest story in terms of character work. It is, by default perhaps, the closest that the studio has come to crafting a somewhat generic superhero story.
ScreenCrush - Matt Singer
['Ant-Man'] is, at least on paper, such a canny change of pace for Marvel... Maybe it’s a bit too basic, though. There’s nothing distinctive or idiosyncratic about Ant-Man, which plays less like Marvel trying something different than Marvel trying the same thing, just cheaper. A few brief flashes of sarcastic wit aside, it’s as generic as comic-book movies come.
IGN - Roth Cornet
Marvel delivers another strong standalone film with Ant-Man. As is typically the case with the more effective of the studio’s offerings, Ant-Man works within the framework of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also delivers a streamlined, fast-paced, lively and – frankly – utterly charming story.
The Verge - Bryan Bishop
['Ant-Man'] knows it’s dumb. Rudd and Anchorman’s Adam McKay rewrote the script after Edgar Wright left the project, and what they’ve constructed is a movie that knows just how skeptical people are going to be, and gets around the problem by winking at nearly every major trope we’ve come to expect from superhero movies.
In summation, it sounds as though Ant-Man has a lot of goofy charm and is refreshingly simpler than recent Marvel Studios films (especially following on the heels of the global scale and large ensemble from Avengers: Age of Ultron) ... even though it's a bit generic overall, as far as superhero movies are concerned. Reed is also picking up kudos for being able to put his own personal stamp on the material, even as some critics have expressed doubts that his take on Ant-Man's shrinking superhero abilities (and the related action sequences) is as inventive as Wright's could have been.
Such "What if?" questions aside, though, it sounds like the Ant-Man movie that we are, in fact, getting is a solid Marvel superhero adventure on the whole - one that finishes off Phase II of the MCU on a decent note, while also providing a nice lead-in to the first chapter in Phase III, Captain America: Civil War. That alone would be accomplishment enough.
Ant-Man opens in theaters July 17, 2015; Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.