It’s a Small World After All: My thoughts on #AntMan (with a side of Batgirl)

craigFunny how the world works. Sitting in the movie theater last night watching Ant-Man, Evangeline Lily put me in mind of Yvonne Craig, who, one could say, was my very first childhood crush.

I mean, of course she was.

Yvonne Craig was all over my TV as a kid. She was Marta the Orion slave girl on Star Trek. She showed up on Wild Wild West, The Big Valley, and Dobie Gillis. She was freaking Batgirl, for gods’ sake.

And now she’s gone at the age of 78 after a long bout with breast cancer.

She will most certainly be missed.

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As for Ant-Man, which Kim, Conn, and I finally got around to seeing, well, it was, in my most humble opinion, nothing short of spectacular. It narrowly bumps Captain America: Winter Soldier from its lofty perch, but bump it it most certainly does.

Ant-Man had everything I want from a big-budget super hero film: heart, humor, and action.

antman-poster-thorI am a Paul Rudd fan, but had my doubts about him being able to headline a Marvel feature. He absolutely crushed it. Rudd did what Rudd does, which is to be charming, condescending, witty, immature, smart, and funny. How he pulls that all off is beyond me, but he does.

It’s hard not to like the guy.

And Paul Rudd’s Scott Lange is likable. An MIT grad ex-con who wants nothing more than to become the hero his daughter already sees him as, Rudd breathes some real life into the character and wins the audience over.

This is helped by terrific performances from the entire cast.

Michael Douglas brings some of that old school Hollywood swagger to the screen. Evangeline Lily plays Hope Pym as a tough and intelligent woman to be reckoned with. And Marvel finally gets a great villain to stand alongside Hiddleston’s Loki in Corey Stoll’s Yellowjacket.

All that being said, for me, the real star of the movie was Michael Peña. Man, he had me rolling every time he was on screen.

I know there was a lot of controversy and concern over the director’s chair shuffle. It’s also never a good sign when the list of writers can fill a small town’s phone book. Somehow, Marvel managed to pull this off without a hitch. Peyton Reed took the reins from Edgar Wright and made this movie his own.

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The action scenes were superb, without a doubt, from the fight between Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Rudd’s Ant-Man, to the Thomas the Tank Engine Bedroom Brawl, to the descent into the sub-atomic… great stuff. But it was the little things that sold this movie — the interactions between father and daughter, whether their last names were Lange or Pym — the back and forth between mentor and students, both new and old…

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A lot of old school comic fans grumbled about this and that, but I felt Ant-Man fit seamlessly into the Marvel Universe. Great cameos from Agent Carter and Howard Stark tied it to the past while the script made sure to name drop the Avengers subtly so that it felt organic.

This was very well done. I remember when everyone thought Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be Marvel’s ball-dropping moment and it exploded. Then everyone pointed their fingers at Ant-Man and said, “oh, here it comes”. Well, wrong again.

Not that Marvel has been perfect. Iron Man 2 and 3 were weak and the 2nd Thor movie could’ve been better, for sure. But those hiccups aside, Marvel has been pretty consistent. Do I wish they hewed a little closer to the comics? Sure, but all things considered, I am enjoying the ride…

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