This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
12. Ant-Man (2015)
The revelation of Ant-Man is the opportunity to “fill in” the past of the MCU. We’d done this a little with Agent Carter and a few Agents of SHIELD episodes, but not in a major way. Ant-Man doesn’t dive whole-hog, I’d have loved an entire B-Story with Hank and Janet in the past (and wondered if we wouldn’t get that in the sequel), but I still hold out hope that Michael and Michelle will suit up down the road to do a cool 70’s/80’s superhero story properly. Until then, the tease we get here (with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark running SHIELD in 1989) is pretty exciting, and it made the suggestion that Captain Marvel would be set in the 90’s when that started bubbling up even more enticing.
It’s cool that Iron Man was the first open superhero in this world, but the idea that NOTHING happened between Steve Rogers going into the ice and Tony’s press conference is pretty sad. Now, thanks to movies like Ant-Man, we know for a fact that a whole lot of things were going on. That’s awesome, whether we ever get to see those stories actually play out on screen or not.
The other revelation that Ant-Man brought us is Michael Pena as Luis. His recap/explanation scenes are amazing. I am hopeful that we’ll get more of him in the future. I was sure that we’d get at least one in Infinity War or Endgame. In the end, I’m sure that Scott’s scene’s after first returning from the Quantum realm were just too sad to be broken up with Luis explaining the last five years he’d missed or what happened with Thanos and the Avengers the last time. The next Ant-Man sequel desperately needs him though, and I’m hopeful that he’ll make the cut for side-characters in the next Avengers film as well. He’s just too amazing.
The real “trick” of the Ant-Man franchise though, is using the shrinking tech and effects to turn small stakes (the final 30 minutes of the film is a one-on-one fight) into GIANT stakes. It’s brilliant and the perfect antidote to movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War (so, just know whatever movie is on the schedule right before Ant-Man and the Wasp 2 is likely going to be very, very dark).
Using the Toy Train set and a little girls’ bedroom as the final action set-piece is brilliant. We’re all just as worried about Cassie in that moment as we were about the thousands in Sakovia a few months before. Knowing that every film can’t be an Avengers-level crossover, and that you inherently have to continue to introduce new characters often in solo adventures, they’ve shown that’s absolutely possible. You just make it personal. Black Panther and Captain Marvel very specifically follow this template. Doctor Strange, less so.
I’ve voiced my desire for the MCU to somehow put the Fantastic Four (and especially Reed Richards) at the center of the superhero universe once they’re introduced. This film does that with Hank Pym, while giving us a “new” adventure with a 2nd generation hero. Hank has history with Howard Stark, Pym tech has influenced and aided our heroes before even though we didn’t know about his contributions. Hank (and Janet) are one of those hard losses that Nick Fury and Peggy Carter had to endure over the years that we didn’t see play out on screen, but could see in their portrayals. I’m sincerely hopeful that this idea is used again in the future of the MCU.