Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man was the first MCU piece to shake up the status quo in terms of moving away from an action-driven Avengers-oriented story. This was a very self-contained film, which had fans tentative on how it utilized Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) instead of Hank Pym as the titular character. Hank, a founding member of Earth’s mightiest heroes in the comics, was relegated to an old scientist trying to get his shrinking technology back by hiring Scott in what would turn out to be a comedy-heist.
It was a far departure from the books, overladen with jokes (as expected with anything featuring Rudd) and felt very disconnected from the graver tone of the MCU at a time when a civil war began stirring up the bigger heroes and the cosmic threat of Thanos started looming closer to home more-so than ever. Ant-Man had its moments of fun, but stacking it up against the other MCU movies, its standalone nature didn’t deliver the impetus needed to take Marvel’s filmverse to the next level. It did well at the box office, even after the directorial drama surrounding Edgar Wright, but story-wise, it was very dull and flat. Thusly, CBR decided to delve further into 15 reasons this movie actually sucked!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for the Ant-Man movie.
15. REPETITIVE HYDRA ANGLE
Darren Cross, Hank’s former protege, was selling both the Ant-Man and Yellowjacket technology on the black market, and the first terrorist that bit was Mitchell Carson, a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D. who worked for HYDRA. He wanted the shrinking particles to continue HYDRA’s quest to amass super-powered armies, but it felt shoehorned in and repetitive, especially after the reveal of all their moles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
There was a Ten Rings operative (aligned with Iron Man 3’s Mandarin arc) in the mix, which made sense as it reminded us that there was a dangerous element to them still. However, with Carson, it felt that the MCU was nagging us not to forget about HYDRA. We get it: they infiltrate! This was a wasted move, missing out on new villainous groups such as the U-Foes, Serpent Society, and mercenaries like Crossfire and the badass Taskmaster.
14. NO GREAT SENSE OF HEROISM
There was no sense of Ant-Man as being a real hero for the greater good here. He was just someone who was wrapped up in his own world and fixing his own selfish mess — which he helped create in the first place! The MCU heroes like Cap, Thor and Iron Man that came previously were bound by a greater duty to protect the world, heck even Hulk too, but Ant-Man didn’t register the same way.
He failed to have any sense of selflessness or altruism, outside of when his daughter’s life was at stake. This may have been done on purpose to differentiate Ant-Man from these other heroes, but instead of him coming off as human and relatable, you were left wondering how the heck he would he fit in with the wider pantheon of Avengers. Scott was barely a team player and was nothing more than a thug for hire working with goons.
13. LACK OF GIANT-MAN
In the comics, Hank donned the Giant-Man mantle and eventually led the Avengers successfully. He used his Pym particles and overall technological genius to make himself bigger, as the name implies, instead of shrinking down in size like he did as Ant-Man. Fans were further stunned when Scott became Giant-Man in Captain America: Civil War to take on Team Stark, but this only served to highlight how much Reed’s movie missed the chance to previously tease such a monumental shift in direction.
This moment really should have involved Hank and Scott, and not just the latter trying to throw down with the MCU’s big guns. It was a passing of the baton that the senior Pym should have endorsed, helped facilitate on the spot or actually experienced for himself. It’s an iconic and signature sequence, so Reed not using it robbed Hank of the glory he rightfully deserved.
12. LAME CAMEOS & EASTER EGGS
The cameos and easter eggs in this movie were quite underwhelming. It had the mandatory Stan Lee (as a bartender), but the best ones came after the credits with Hope (Hank and Janet Pym’s daughter) getting a Wasp suit, and Falcon following up his fight with Scott to mention Ant-Man as a potential ally for Cap (as they took stock of Bucky Barnes and the Accords).
During the film though, the fan service was much more lukewarm as we got trivial things like a newspaper article mentioning Sokovia and the damage from Age of Ultron, a reporter dropping hints of Spider-Man, the Ten Rings, Cassie (Scott’s daughter who would become Stature in Young Avengers) and Cross mentioning “tales to astonish,” which riffed off the old comic series of the same name. We could have done with some Eric O’Grady (a.k.a. The Irredeemable Ant-Man) or Bill ‘Goliath’ Foster hints.
11. NO ACTUAL ROMANTIC CHEMISTRY
Hank set up Scott to rob him as a test because he wanted to use him to steal back his technology from Cross. Hope eventually sided with her estranged dad after initially appearing to back Cross, and the trio set out to stop his schemes. While Hank dealt with the tech aspect of their mission, Hope would train Scott to don the suit, specifically as a combatant — something he clearly lacked.
However, the underpinning “romantic” subplot that ensued between them seemed inorganic as they lacked both chemistry and motive. It was simply having romance for the sake of having romance as a plot point. He was clearly a thief and a scoundrel, and she had turned her back on her father so that they weren’t appealing at all. There was no real reason to gravitate to each other besides their striving to screw over the villain, ergo why this plot thread felt so cheesy and bland.
10. POOR EXPLORATION OF THE MICROVERSE
In the film’s climax, in order to defeat Cross’ superior Yellowjacket suit, Scott had to shrink down to subatomic size to penetrate it. He did this to sabotage it, thus causing Cross to lethally shrink. In doing so, Scott entered the microverse (quantum realm), which is what Janet did earlier in her heroic career and why she disappeared. Once you go in, you don’t come back out — or so Hank thought.
Scott re-emerged, offering hope that they could someday find Janet (who was assumed dead), but you’ve got to admit that it was poorly explained and explored. It looked like an acid trip, as opposed to a new realm being discovered. Sure, Hank doesn’t understand it much, but it’s just as important as the realms seen in Doctor Strange. The fact that Scott popped in and out devalued its importance, in stark contradiction to its portrayal in the books.
9. AVENGERS/FALCON FELT FORCED
Falcon was forced in here to inform the post-credits link to the Civil War movie. The MCU needed someone based on levity and he was the lucky pick. In the film, Scott had to steal some of Tony Stark’s tech from the Avengers base and this led to Ant-Man actually defeating Sam Wilson, but was that really necessary though? It came off like an audition, albeit much more combative and high-octane.
It was fun to watch, but rather than force a connection to the Avengers, why not focus on some other genius or group? Amadeus Cho? S.W.O.R.D.? A.I.M.? Even Rick Jones would have expanded the MCU’s scope. However, yet again, Stark was shunted into our face, even if through the Falcon. Scott’s link to the heroes could have been more subtle with a visit from them at the end rather than this slugfest.
8. NEEDED MORE WASP
Hope was obviously a great fighter, so why was she not involved in the movie’s climax? Clearly her services would have been a big asset, because Yellowjacket wreaked havoc since he only had Ant-Man to contend with. Reed practically treated her with as being as useful as a piece of furniture, as she ended up being nothing more than a martial arts instructor and potential love interest. The MCU dropped the ball on yet another strong female character and their mistreatment showed up even more when they gave her a Wasp costume after the film ended!
Really? She wasn’t worthy for the final fight? Hope was clearly more than a damsel in distress and we’re glad to see her getting equal billing in Ant-Man and the Wasp. It’s a shame we have to wait for this sequel to see the Wasp flying free in her true glory because she had more potential here than being the peripheral figure she was cast as.
7. LACKED A FLAWED HANK PYM
What makes Hank such a likeable character in the comics is that he’s a flawed hero. Apart from his trials and tribulations with artificial intelligence, his personal life is quite a tornado too. From his domestic abuse issues with Janet to the tension he always manages to have with the Avengers, he’s quite intriguing. Secret Invasion and the Age of Ultron comics proved just this.
In this film though, he’s nothing more than an old philanthropist with good intentions. Hank shines as a hero when he overcomes his own personal demons, relationship flaws and the erosion of his mental sanity, but all he was here was someone who wanted to be more than a deadbeat dad, while ensuring his toys didn’t end up in the wrong hands. We missed seeing him go borderline villain, which admittedly is one of his best traits.
6. JANET PYM WAS UNDERPLAYED
The lack of airtime for Janet was a downright injustice. She was a founding and core member of the Avengers in the comics, so to leave her out in Joss Whedon’s debut MCU piece back in 2012, only to then shove her aside in this film, actually feels borderline insulting to the character.
Fans got a glimpse of her mission with Hank early in the movie, where she went subatomic to defuse a Soviet missile, getting lost and ‘killed’ in the microverse, but we still couldn’t see under her mask. We don’t know who she is, so how are we supposed to connect with her on an emotional level? She should have been just as big a figure as Hank was. Hopefully, Scott and Hope rescue her from the quantum realm in the next chapter of their story.
5. WEAK FINAL FIGHT
The MCU has a tendency to falter at the final act and barring the Russo Bros. and Whedon movies, the final fights aren’t usually the best. This follows suit for Reed’s film in which Ant-Man and Yellowjacket go at it in kiddie fashion. Toy trains were involved and that kind of says it all. We get that this film needed to stand out in terms of the microscopic fight style, but this finale was a bit of a stretch.
The action sequences weren’t that bad, and the micro-warriors gave the impression they were powered up when battling, but the levity and light feel to the climax threw us off, erasing all attempts to make something interesting. The ensuing throwdown was more on par with Hulk’s battle with Loki or Doctor Strange’s never-ending offer to bargain with Dormammu.
4. VILLAIN WASN’T INTIMIDATING
Darren Cross was one of the MCU’s lamest villains. He wasn’t intimidating at all, not even as Yellowjacket. We’re tired of petty villains and he was just that. The fact that he had eyes for Hope was even worse, as he fit all the cliches. Much more was expected from Corey Stoll as he failed to instil the scare of a ruthless businessman, as seen with Willem Defoe’s Norman Osborn or even Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor.
Cross was a bonafide salesman shooting too far for his own good and once more illustrated the achilles heel of Marvel Studios. The fact that he had no real connection to Scott and had to go kidnap his daughter made for an even more cringeworthy plot. When he transformed into Yellowjacket, things didn’t improve, as he still felt pretty basic and non-threatening.
3. HANK’S DOWNGRADE
It sucked seeing Hank demoted like this. We wanted to see him, and not Tony Stark, creating Ultron in the MCU. Instead, he was downgraded to being a scientist and thief, still living in the shadows of the Stark family. He went from being a S.H.I.E.L.D. genius to being Stark-lite, engineering in obscurity instead of being revered.
If he was being stripped of being Ultron’s creator, then the director here could have at least made him something more than just an old man. Michael Douglas was an odd casting choice and placing Hank as a senior really sold the character short. In comics, he does great things, whether in the lab or on the battlefied — some are good, some are bad but they are all great things that change history. Hank doesn’t just sit on the sidelines as he did here.
2. TOO SIMILAR TO IRON MAN
The tech vibe of this film was super similar to Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. There’s a disagreement between two businessmen over tech and one tries to repurpose it for the black market after a corporate takeover. The other does everything in his power to stop what was stolen from him and avoid global terrorism. Spot the familiar arcs? Also, in Reed’s movie, the mentor (Hank) and protege (Cross) butt heads. Sounds like Stark and Obadiah Stane, right?
Also, in this movie, both hero and villain suit up and duke it out at the end just like the movie that kickstarted the MCU. It sucked to see such potential wasted because had Reed gone another route instead of being just a tech film, we could have had a bigger superhero narrative on our hands.
1. TOO MUCH HUMOR
Laughter is very good for the soul, but not all the time. Scott reunited with his gang of misfits in order to pull off an unconventional yet effective caper for Hank, but all they did was trivialize things way too much. Scott’s posse included stars such as Michael Pena as Luis and rapper T.I. as Dave, but their constant comedic exposition dragged us out of the superhero experience more than expected. There were very humorous bits, but many others felt so unnecessary.
Scott jokingly interrupting the father-daughter moment when Hank relayed the epic story of Janet’s disappearance to Hope perfectly illustrates this point. The MCU needs to stop forcing laughs, because it’s insincere and, as we saw with Drax recently, a tad insensitive. This route they embark on actually ends up ruining a lot of emotive moments for the sake of a few giggles.
Did you like Ant-Man? Let us know in the comments what worked or didn’t for you!