Ant Man is a revelatory and deeply incendiary parable about masculinity and men’s loss of self-esteem and identity. In a world where men reflect upon themselves as mere ‘ants’, Ant Man has much to say about society’s destructive limiting of male expression and emotional exploration.
No, wait, it’s about a guy who uses a suit to shrink to the size of an ant. This follows in the grand tradition of superheroes who can shrink to the size of objects: Spider Man is about a guy who uses a suit to shrink to the size of a spider, and Iron Man is about a guy who uses a suit to shrink to the size of a household iron.
This would be a patently ridiculous idea if someone had just made it up and turned it into a film, but instead it’s part of a new world order of cinema: The Something Something Golden Age of Comic Book Films. Hollywood boffins have cleverly calculated that, if one can find really old absurdly dumb comics, then the absurditude and dumbnessity of them has already leaked out to such a degree that the comics are rendered harmless and have acquired sweaty nostalgia, and their adaptations can be paraded out as a cinematic event as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
This is lucky for us, the Cinema-Going Public, starved for so long of films about people who can shrink to the size of things, because now we can watch this film about a guy who can shrink to the size of a very small thing, and that thing is an ant. Scott, the guy who can do this, can do this because of Hank, another guy who can do this. Hank is a super smart scientist. He said: “Hey, what if I made a suit that could shrink the spaces between atoms?” And then everyone said No but he wasn’t listening. So he made the suit, and it did the thing he wanted it to do.
Also somehow it can make you shrink so small that you’re smaller than an atom, which fundamentally contradicts the science behind how the suit works. Also there are throwing discus things that can do the shrinking thing, and throwing discus things that do the opposite thing. What? Hank can also make regular-sized things bigger? How come no-one ever mentions this? Why would everyone be so hung up on making things the size of ants, when they could make things the size of gi-ants? Have you seen the only character that Hollywood thinks is in the military? There’s no way that character would care about the nuances of making tiny things when they could make tanks the size of the world.
The saddest thing about Ant Man is that tiny Scott doesn’t bump into Rick Moranis from the Honey We Shrunk… series, which remains the best film series that shrinks people to the size of ants. Instead tiny Scott bumps into budget Avengers and Pete Russo from House of Cards. Tiny Scott isn’t actually real, but is instead a character played by Paul Rudd, who sometimes acts but sometimes forgets and just wanders around the scenery being goofy.
Ant Man is aggressively, punch-you-in-the-face-ingly mediocre. Sometimes it is funny and sometimes it does action-y things. Everyone is amazed by the fact that a film about a guy who shrinks to the size of an ant isn’t terrible, and therefore they deduce that it is great. But it isn’t great. It is extraordinarily facile and formulaic, and so safe that it’s filled with actual safes. It’s a connect-the-dots puzzle in which there are only three dots and someone already connected them with a giant marker pen but gave you the puzzle anyway as if you’re such an idiot that it would still somehow occupy you for an hour and forty-nine minutes plus credits. And it’s a Marvel film, so you can’t even wuss out of the credits, you have to sit through all of them just to get a tiny clip of a bunch of characters who weren’t even in the film, and when you stagger out of the cinema, you no longer have any idea what day it is, or who you are, or whether it is in fact possible to shrink to the size of an ant.
I’m not claiming that I can tell that Edgar Wright wrote the initial draft and was supposed to direct this film, but there’s a whole bunch of surreal Edgar Wright-ish scenes that have turned out flat and awkward, and would greatly benefit from the creative direction and energetic editing of, um, Edgar Wright. To wit: there’s a should-be-bonkers segment in which the main character literally shrinks to the sub-atomic quantum level, and somehow it’s so visually bankrupt that it’s boring.
But never mind. Cinema isn’t about films any more, it’s about franchises. The only point of a film is to prep you for the next film, in the same way that episodes of Lost were forty-four minutes of nonsensical plotting and dialogue, followed by one minute of barnstorming cliffhanger. You see, Ant Man isn’t actually about Ant Man. It’s a prologue to Captain America: Civil War. Which is a prologue to The Avengers: Infinity War: Part 1. Which is a prologue to The Avengers: Infinity War: Part 2. Which will probably turn out to be a prologue to The Super Fuck Off Avengers: Dawn Of A Million Superheroes Who Can All Shrink To The Size Of Tiny Things: Part 1.
In completely unrelated news, I’m suffering from a condition called Marvel Superhero Fatigue.
I’m seeking treatment.