There are lots of reasons to like Ant-Man. You’ve got the sparkling comic chemistry of Paul Rudd and Michael Peña (Evangeline Lilly’s there too). There’s a zippy Michael Douglas/John Slattery/Hayley Atwell prologue that makes you long for an MCU film set in the ‘80s. Minus a misjudged training sequence, the film’s bouncy heist framework is perfectly paced and, for the first time in a while, the action scenes have a sense of imagination and fun; it turns out small-scale fight scenes are way more fun than yet another huge flying machine crashing into a metropolis.
Nonetheless, this is very much a Marvel movie, with all that entails. Edgar Wright’s original script has been stripped for parts – funny interludes and ice-cream-related jokes remain, but they’re sandwiched between clumsy Avengers tie-ins and awkwardly overwritten characterisation that relies heavily on daddy issues while avoiding nuance altogether. I’m not sure who has it worse: Michael Douglas’s sanitised, near-saintly Hank Pym, or Corey Stoll’s ridiculously megalomaniacal villain, whose motivations are explained – in ADR’d dialogue – as the result of “corrupted brain chemistry” or somesuch.
The days of surprising auteurist Marvel movies are, sadly, over. If you can accept that, you’ll have a good time with Ant-Man.