Ant-Man might be the most underrated franchise in the MCU. But if you haven’t caught up with Paul Rudd’s snarky small-time crim, you’re going to want to very soon – because it’s going to be a huge part of Avengers: Endgame.
Set just a few months after the mind-melting, city-levelling events of Age Of Ultron – the loudest and most confusing of the Avengers movies to date – Ant-Man’s smaller stakes and determination to actually be a fun movie seemed like a bit of an odd Man out.
It also suffered from some messy production vibes, after original writer-director Edgar Wright – the guy who brought us Shaun Of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver – exited due to creative differences with Marvel. It seemed like it was going to end up a pale imitation of what could have been, instead of a truly original addition to the series.
But the whip-smart script Wright co-wrote with Joe Cornish (Attack The Block) remained and was worked on further by Rudd and Adam McKay (Anchorman), while Bring It On director Peyton Reed pulled together a fun and fast heist movie that made the most of its star.
That’s the boring background – and in a way, it doesn’t really matter. The end product was actually one of the most fun MCU movies since the first Iron Man (and proved Thor: Ragnarok’s lighter, less self-important vibe would totally work).
It’s basically Iron Man meets Honey I Shrunk The Kids: our intro to Hank Pym’s size-controlling technology see Scott Lang (Rudd) wearing a suit that makes him huge or teeny, and fighting a bad guy for control of the world-changing tech.
There are not only obligatory sequences with everyday objects made giant, but also spectacular action set-pieces based on what it would be like to fight inside a briefcase flying through the air, or on a toy train set.
Plus, Rudd was the exact right choice for the role: as delightful and ageless as a never-ending packet of Tim Tams, believable as a trying-to-reform ex-con and a loving dad, and also as a reluctant superhero trying to do the right thing despite what it might cost him.
And the rest of the cast – from a crotchety Michael Douglas and the scene-stealing Michael Pena to a not-here-to-f**k-spiders (or ants) Evangeline Lilly and an under-used-as-always Judy Greer – is stacked deep with talent.
But most importantly, it’s looking more and more like Hank Pym’s tiny-making-tech will be key to Avengers: Endgame.
The Quantum Realm – the smaller-than-atoms space where extra-tiny suit-wearers end up if they go too small, and where Doctor Strange very briefly ended up during his journey to becoming the powerful sorcerer he is now – is looking like it will be a major part of the fourth Avengers film.
We know this because Tom Holland accidentally told us, bless him.
And while they’ll give us a bit of background in Endgame, all the timey-wimey and/or physics-bending stuff will be way less confusing if you cop some background in the form of Ant-Man and, possibly more importantly, Ant-Man & The Wasp.
Scott might have shown up to pick a side in Civil War and find himself having to be actually introduced to most of the team, but as we learned from the first real trailer for Endgame, he’s also going to turn up to offer Cap and the team his old van packed full of quantum tech.
He’s a real Avenger now, and he deserves your respect despite the dumb name.
Just like his eponymous films in the increasingly grim, high-stakes world of the MCU, Ant-Man is a cheery, goofy presence at the gates of Avengers HQ.
Let him in before Endgame: you might be coming for the plot gaps it’ll fill in, but you’ll want to stay for the fun.