As has been very well established by now, I am very much a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What I’m going to say here could be taken, in some form, as anti-Marvel, but it is certainly not meant that way. I love Marvel.
True, I’ve had misgivings in the past, when I heard about Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, but I was proven wrong every time, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every movie thus far. Eleven hits out of eleven is not a bad track record!
(not to mention Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, and Daredevil…)
However, the absolute proof of the trust I now place in Marvel is, quite simply, the fact that I’m going to go this weekend to see Ant-Man.
This is because of why I’ve disliked the idea. Iron Man and Thor, I was wary of because I didn’t see how we could relate to such characters. Avengers, I was hesitant about because I had no idea how they would do justice to several superheroes in one movie. Guardians of the Galaxy, I just knew too little about except for how strange the Guardians seemed to be, particularly the raccoon. Ant-Man is something else entirely. I have never liked this character, no matter where and how I see him, and this post is all about why I dislike him so much.
But I want to emphasize that I am going to see the movie, and this is not an attempt to convince anyone not to. I simply want to purge this from my system before seeing the movie, so both my judgment and my review of the movie are uncluttered by all of this.
In short: I am trying to be fair, so this must be cleared away, which involves bringing it out into the open first.
Now, with that lengthy disclaimer out of the way…
This begins when I was a boy, or a teenager, I forget exactly which I was at the time. I was fairly fresh to the world of comic books. I’ve never been a collector, but when we went to Wal-Mart, I’d always stop by the spinning rack of comics, taking a look-see if there was anything that especially caught my eye. Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Batman, the X-Men, Sonic the Hedgehog… I liked them all plenty, though there were some odd issues, I found, where the heroes lost and died, and yet things kept going anyway with them all alive. I was puzzled by this, but it usually turned out to be something involving time travel or alternate dimensions or some such. In fact, some issues involved the entire world ending!
My first introduction to Ant-Man was in one such apocalyptic issue. While no one does well in an issue that ends with the destruction of the entire solar system, there’s still something wrong with getting half his team killed, including his wife. My first impression of the shrinking superhero was one of complete uselessness. His superpower was useless, and his leadership was inept. I could not understand why he was a team leader in the first place.
But, then again, this was an issue where everybody died in the end. So I figured I was being a bit harsh on Ant-Man, but I still was not remotely intrigued by him.
Many years later, I had my second encounter with Ant-Man. Once again, it was in the midst of a world-threatening crisis, this one called World War Hulk. This featured a different incarnation of the hero, with another man having taken on the mantle. He was not a leader, in fact he was acting on his own, and while he still shrank, he could now fly and use flamethrowers. Upgrade, yes?
Well, his presence in the war with the Hulk was so tiny and insignificant that none of the major players even realized he was there! He flew into Hulk’s mouth (Hulk did not notice) and down his throat (Hulk did not notice) all the way to his stomach, where he proceeded to burn at the walls of said stomach (Hulk did not notice), then back up, out, and emerged just in time to be at ground zero of a titanic smash against Iron Man’s Hulk-buster armor… and no one noticed! All he managed to do, with that incredibly-bad timing, was hurt himself to the point he was stuck in intensive care. He woke up to find himself at the mercy of an old enemy of his.
So, two out of two times, when planet-sized crap hit the fan, Ant-Man was useless. His shrinking powers were useless, his tactics were useless, his efforts were useless… he was useless! Exactly when he was needed the most and when innumerable other characters could shine, Ant-Man was as helpful as a the insects beneath your shoes! In one case, he got his teammates killed, and in the other, all he did was get himself hurt!
Can you start to see why I’m not a fan?
I mean, I can see the use of something like shrinking in, say, super-stealth missions, like a super-heist, but not at all in a fight. And so far as I ever knew, that was the limit of Ant-Man’s abilities: to become small enough that an ant could step on him rather than the other way around. But apparently there are some others, which they are tapping into for the movie. Like… controlling ants.
…okay, that might be something if it’s one of those many-millions-strong swarms that destroy everything in their path. But generally? Not so impressive.
There will apparently be some sort of deal with his strength while he’s miniaturized, but I’ve no understanding of that just yet, so I’ll have to comment on that later, but my point is, overall, I’ve found Ant-Man’s shrinking powers to be practically impressive only in their impotence. I mean, at least the Wasp could also fly and sting, and with something a bit more impressive than a flamethrower the size of a needle. I mean, what’s he going to burn with that, a leaf?
Speaking of the Wasp, who is Ant-Man’s bride, if my general estimation of Ant-Man’s futile existence was not enough, this was before I learned about his reputation as a wife-beater. Which really galls me, ya know? There are many things which I may excuse, at least to a point, but beating one’s wife is simply not one of them. It’s just not. Unless she attacks her husband and he has to defend himself, or something like that, then there is simply no excuse for it. None. I draw the line.
On a side-note to that, I read this article on Cracked awhile back, and it’s makes an excellent point. Ant-Man is known for beating on his wife, but he gets a movie, while we’re still waiting for a female-led superhero movie! (though now, at least, we have the promises of Captain Marvel and the Netflix series Jessica Jones from Marvel, and Wonder Woman from DC) Where is the justice in this? I hop on the bandwagon: I want super-hot superheroes! 😉 I mean, it’s not like they lack strong women! Wolverine is pretty much the epitome of toughness, and you know who I can think of, just off the top of my head, that can beat him? The Hulk, Armor, X-23, and Squirrel Girl. Three of these are women.
Granted, they’re also mutants, so Fox probably has them in their pocket, but that’s beside the point. Speaking of, to return to the actual point about Ant-Man himself…
Or, rather, my trepidations about this movie in particular:
The roller coaster of production. They had one person directing it, but he quit, and rather late in the game if I understand correctly. So they brought in Peyton Reed. Whose resume includes Bring it On, Down With Love, and The Break-Up, alongside Yes Man. That chickflick-ridden record is a resume practically tailor-made to repel me.
The trailer. While I was hesitant about Guardians of the Galaxy, every trailer for that movie completely quelled my fears and got me excited to go and see it. The first Ant-Man trailer, by contrast, just felt very lacking. Mediocre. Meh. Whatever. Not interested. Now the second trailer they released at least got me interested in the movie from a comedic perspective, much as I enjoyed Ant-Man’s useless adventure down Hulk’s gullet.
So, to summarize: we have a useless character with useless powers, who has a rep as a wife-beater, getting a movie (in place of female superheroes) whose first director jumped ship and whose second director does chickflicks, and the first trailer bored me, while the second only intrigued me for comedic value. This has all the makings of being the black sheep of the MCU.
I say again: the fact that I am going this weekend, opening weekend, to see Ant-Man in theaters is absolute proof of the faith and trust I place in Marvel.
And I can already see something poetic here, as we have such huge heroes, that the smaller one plays an important role. I can see the super-heist theme coming into play at long last, rather than the outright battle for the Earth’s survival. And I doubt they’ll keep the wife-beating, and the powers are slightly different, and perhaps this will be the first genuine comedy of the MCU. In short, I can see some things which give me cause for hope.
Perhaps my faith will be rewarded after all!
Let’s go find out, eh?