You know what’s the most important part of a superhero movie?
The Villain of course
Look at the most successful superhero movies out there and you will find that each one of them have a fantastic villain.
Avengers – Loki
XMen- Magneto, Mystique, SabreTooth (though I admit that its largely a superhit because of one character – the Wolverine)
XMen 2- Colonel Stryker (as above)
X3 The Last Stand – Magneto, Phoenix, Pyro, Juggernaut, US Army (as above)
XMen First Class – Sebastian Shaw
XMen Days of Future First – Sentinels, Magneto, Tyrion Lannister
Wolverine 2 – Ninjas, Yakuza, Venom, the Atom Bomb and a goddamn Adamantium Samurai
Thor – Loki
Captain America – Hydra (Hail Hydra btw)
Captain America 2 – The Winter Soldier and Hydra (Hail Hydra)
Avengers 2 – Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Ultron
Spiderman – Green Goblin
Spiderman 2 – Doctor Otto Octavius (Doc OC)
Amazing Spider Man – Lizard
Fantastic Four – Doctor Doom
Fantastic Four 2 – The Silver Surfer
Hellboy – Rasputin
Iron Man- Obadiah Stane, Taliban
Iron Man 2 – Ivan Vanko
Constantine – Satan, Beelzebub
Batman – Joker
Batman Forever – Riddler and Two face
Batman Begins – Raas Al Ghul and Scarecrow
Dark Knight Rises – Talia Al Ghul and Bane
And of course, the greatest of them all
The Dark Knight – Why So Serious?
Of course, we have the exceptions to the rule
Movies that became huge hits despite having sorry ass villains
Iron Man 3
Guardians of the Galaxy (admittedly, it did not need a great villain – it had Groot (and baby Groot)
The case is similar with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – it has Michelangelo
And now look at the movies which stank up the place – what’s common among them?
Crappy portrayal/crappy villains
Green Lantern – Parallax
Daredevil – Bullseye
Catwoman – Sharon Stone
Batman and Robin – Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy
Electra – The Hand
The Punisher – Howard Saint
Hellboy 2 – That weird elf prince
Watchmen – Ozymandias
Punisher War Zone – Jigsaw
Jonah Hex – Quentin Turnbull
Wolverine origins was a flop because of the extremely shoddy production value and half ass CGI. And because of what they did to Deadpool. People didn’t forgive them that. You don’t mess with Deadpool.
The data is right there, the formula is simple people.
And yet studios mess up, they never learn.
An I fear they have messed up a bit with Ant Man.
First let us look at what they got right
They have been kinda true to the characters of Hank Pym and Scott lang – no issues there.
Paul Rudd as Scott lang has done quite a decent job. He is a very fine underrated actor, so a solid performance from him is par for the course..
Evangeline Lilly is surprisingly fantastic – quite a badass with a range of emotions (so basically Tauriel of the Marvel Universe)
Michael Pena is funny (though some of the humour is a bit cliched and stereotypical)
The script and humour of the movie is quite good, especially those involving Michael Pena and Thomas the Tank Engine.
The mini-fight with the Avenger Falcon at their facility was good enough – albeit a bit too short.
But humour alone can’t carry that movie, because its not a comedy movie. Superhero movies have to also depend on action sequences and villains etc.
So, what did the movie get wrong or more pertinently, in which areas did the movie become meh?
1. The action sequences in this movie were a bit meh to be honest, especially the climactic battle – too much fizz, not enough substance; too much air, not enough chips; too many Bangladeshis, not enough humans if you will.
2. The biggest let down of the movie – and the definite cause if the movie tanks – is the villain (Corey Stoll). The man – despite the actor’s dedicated efforts – is neither menacing nor funny nor dangerous; well the man is just not very good as a bad guy.
3. Michael Douglas is way too uni-dimensional. Be it his speech or his face, it was all too monotonous and single dimensional. With the script at disposal, it needed a far more nuanced portrayal. There is no doubt that he is a good actor, so this portrayal is a bit weird.
4. The theme/music – Not a single track worth remembering (compare and contrast to XMen, Dark Knight and Avengers)
In the Marvel Universe, Ant-Man has always been a small cog. So I understand that Marvel Studios did not want to invest too much into this. Its a decent enough movie which should recoup the expenditure.
But all the same it feels like such a wasted opportunity.
So many areas of improvement:
- That final battle
- The scene where Ant-Man comes face to face with that rat
- Evangeline Lilly’s character
- Judy Greer’s character
- The Ant-Doggie – though I admit that maybe a personal thing – all movies need a doggie.
- The villain
This just makes you wonder what Edgar Wright would have done with the movie (though rumours abound that he wanted to change the entire succession concept and intended for Lang to steal from Pym). On the one hand, it would have been interesting to see a whole new aspect in the standard superhero template; on the other hand, Marvel has hit upon a formula that works – if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
Since all the Marvel movies are now interconnected and leading to that Civil War, I can understand why the studio wants a sort of continuity and templatization for the movies.
On the one hand it makes things boring, but on the other hand it ensures some quality, some familiarity.
So far it looks like Ant Man is going to be hit. Its a good movie.
Its just a pity, because it had all the ingredients to be so much better.
Hopefully, the sequel – with Wasp – will be.