After almost 9 years of production, 2 Directors – Edgar Wright , Peyton Reed – and countless round bumps, Ant-Man finally hit theaters this past weekend. Though despite all these complications, creative differences and a lack-luster full first trailer, Ant-Man surprisingly turned out to be one of Marvel funniest films! Although it wasn’t just the humor in this film that made it great; but also the impressive depth it took in regards to science, story and inter-connectivity to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Good things come to those who wait, and this is especially true of Ant-Man. So let’s examine some of the amazing complexities of this film so that we can not only enjoy it more; but also honor ALL those who put so much time and effort into making it.
*Warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD! So if you haven’t seen the film yet, avert your eyes, ears and telepathically controlled ants*
Explaining Pym Particles – Side-Effects, Implosions & Cross’s Death, :
First, let’s address some of the “science” behind this film. Now I’m no physicist so I can’t actually speak to how ‘realistic’ the science is – if you want that then Kyle Hill has an awesome article about that over on Nerdist.com – but at least in the narrative of this film, the attributes and complications of Pym Particles remains constant. So, in short, Pym Particles are a way to manipulate the space between and within atoms. Again, this isn’t that realistic but if it were, it would of course come with a lot of complications – especially when concerned with organic living matter – and the film does take the time to explore those repercussions in a realistic manner.
If just one part of the equation is slightly off, then organic matter basically goes splat! After all, how can you account for things like brain impulses, a soul, etc. Though even if everything is perfected, there are still plenty of problems and warnings. For starters, we hear how even working near Pym Particles can slowly cause some adverse effects on the subject. After years of running missions and tinkering to bring his wife back, Hank Pym’s body and mind can no longer handle them. So if he had all those troubles with perfected particles, imagine how much more so Cross’s exposure was. Even though he hadn’t used them on himself till late in the film, Cross still tampered with harnessing these particles for many years. This exacerbated his already phenomenal daddy issues – which we’ll get to in a second – and turned him into a sociopath.
The other major warning about Pym Particles is once you get the equation and equipment right, don’t tamper with it. As we saw with Janet and Scott, if you tamper with the regulator, the ‘limits’ of the suit are removed and can cause one to shrink at an uncontrollable rate until subatomic. Though it’s not just the regulator that must be intact, but the whole suit in general!
Notice how Ant-Man isn’t able to shrink unless he has his Helmet on. This isn’t due to budget restrictions on the film-makers part; but rather because the suit deals with the Pym particles and contains them in a field around the wearer. This could in theory protect the wearer largely from the adverse effects, but more importantly completes the circuit around the wearer. Or to put it a simpler way, imagine compressing a water bottle. If the top is open or if there are any holes in it, the water will rush out violently. Ergo, if Scott shrunk without the helmet, his head would probably explode since the glove of Pym Particles excluded his head.
Incorrect use and damage to the system could cause implosions, and that is exactly what happens to Cross at the end. There are so many tears and malfunctions in the suit that the entire suit doesn’t shrink at once. This imbalance causes different parts – limbs – to miniaturize violently until Cross is no more. Could Cross have been transported to the subatomic level too? Possibly; but considering his entire body didn’t shrink at the same rate… if anything is left of him – no matter how small – it most likely isn’t alive.
Daddy Issues Strike Again:
If you were the Hulk, you couldn’t swing a Loki around in this film without hitting someone with – or causing – daddy issues. Hank Pym, Hope van Dyne, Darren Cross, Scott Lang, Howard Stark and potentially Cassie Lang one day are all related to this idea. We already know Howard Stark’s story – and that dynamic is eve alluded to when Hank talks about he didn’t hide his research from one Stark just to give it to another (Tony). Though the others all have a direct line to Past and Present daddy issues.
We hear all about how Hank Pym pushed his daughter Hope away from fear of losing her like her mother. Additionally, we saw how Cross didn’t take Hank’s rejection of him all to well either. The entire motivation of this film can basically be summed up in fixing and preventing more daddy issues. In fact, the struggle between Cross and Scott is basically a battle of “sons” – the man Hank hid his suit from and the man Hank trusted his suit to. This choice will be discussed further in the next section, but overall we find Hank having to make up for his past failures as a mentor and a father. And that is where Scott comes in, because he is the man who has a chance to take a different path. It is his love of his daughter – and refusal to cause her daddy issues – that he takes up the mantle of the Ant-Man. In the end, Scott Lang is the younger version of Hank Pym – before all the darkness set in – and that is what TRULY makes him the right choice as successor!
Scott Lang As The Proper Successor To Hank Pym/Ant-Man:
When we initially meet Scott, it seems like he’s just going to be that “lucky fool” who Hank Pym selects to be Ant-Man. Though as the film progresses, we quickly see that despite his humorous persona, Scott Lang is no fool. From mention of his Masters in Electric Engineering to his incredible ingenuity in robbing Pym’s house, Scott Lang is incredibly intelligent; but the similarities don’t end there. In the comics, Pym was a pacifist and this is even alluded to a little bit in the film – but more so in the prequel comic if you read it. Scott also expresses a similar belief during the film when he admits that he HATES violence.
Scott holds not only Hank Pym’s greatest traits, but also his younger idealistic mentality as well. He’s constantly described as ‘the guy who took on the system and lost’, which isn’t that different from Pym’s days fighting against S.H.I.E.L.D. to keep his tech protected from the world. Sadly though, like Pym, Scott also lost his wife and daughter in the process. Though unlike Pym, Scott uses this occurrence to spur himself on towards better things. And this is where the difference between Scott and Hank explain the difference between Scott and Darren Cross. The reason Hank pushed Cross away is because he started to see TOO much of himself in him – the rage, anger and obsessive sides.
Scott Lang was free from these character traits due to his love for his daughter Cassie. This is also why Scott was able to come back from the subatomic zone as well as why he most likely won’t be consumed by ‘Pym Particle Psychosis’. Whether in the subatomic realm or suffering mental breakdown, the Pym Particles can cause anyone exposed to them to slowly loose their grip and focus on things. Hope might have told Scott to focus on his daughter to control the ants, but it’s that razor focus that also spares Scott from the adverse Pym Particle effects. Even in a realm where time stops and Pym Particles are taxing your mind, Scott still has space for his daughter Cassie and her image of him as the Hero!
The Wasp’s Fate & Future:
But enough about “the son Hank Pym never had”; what about the daughter he did have? Well as we learned in the film, Hank pushed Hope away from an early age. This spurred her to push forward, studying martial arts and do whatever it takes to follow in her mom’s footsteps. Sadly, it seemed nothing she ever did was enough to earn back her father’s warmth. This is what caused her to spurn him, keep her mother’s last name “van Dyne” rather than “Pym” and help kick her father out of his company.
Though as Hope finds out in the film, Hank only pushed her away because he feared she’d suffer the same fate as her mother. Janet was lost because of Pym Particles during the Cold War. Hank couldn’t stand Hope being lost in this war; but now he’s put all that behind them and the film ends with Hank decided to work with Hope and forge a new Wasp. This time though the Wasp costume isn’t just a ‘female’ version of the Ant-Man suit, but rather an advanced prototype that is Feige has even hinted at having very big moments in upcoming films. When will we see the Wasp take flight and what stories will she be a part of? All things in good time I suppose; but Wasp’s reappearance isn’t the only thing Ant-Man set up for!
Civil War Set-Ups #1 – Surveillance, Accountability & “Dropping Cities Out Of The Sky”:
Captain America: Civil War might not be due out until next year; but Ant-Man really started to bring the conflicts and themes central to that film to a head. The tail end of Phase 2 – ie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D (Season 2) – certainly set up a lot of these ideas (the need for a new governing agency, accountability, and unaccounted for powered-people respectively), and Ant-Man was no exception. A large theme in the film is the idea of accountability and how the Ant-Man suit – and Pym tech – can either be used as a means for Ultimate Surveillance or the Abolition Of Surveillance. Whereas Cross wanted the tech to be used for an unmatched army; Hank used the tech to literally “go anywhere, hear anything, see anything”.
Civil War – at least in the comics – is all about powered-individuals needing to be ‘Registered’ so that they can be held accountable for any damages or actions they cause. This Registration involves the abolition of any secret identities. Whereas this idea does have merit, it can also be used to horrible ends since its reveal personal information that could be used to ‘coerce’ and control these individuals. This is why Ironman (Pro-Registration) and Captain America (Anti-Registration) find themselves on opposite ends of this battle.
How this will all exactly play out next year in Civil War remains to be seen; but accountability for heroes will of course be a major part of it. The Avengers have been connected to the battle of New York – which caused the hellish landscape of Marvel’s Daredevil and are now connect to the entire destruction of Sokovia. Ant-Man actually brought up the Sokovia incident directly when Pym quipped that the Avengers are probably “too busy dropping cities out of the sky”. Add in the Hulk’s rampage in South Africa, and we can already see that there is a lot of Bad Blood that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Though beyond these thematic allusions and set ups, Ant-Man also directly brought up Civil War in its Post Credits – by showing us a scene from it.
Civil War Set-Ups #2 – Post Credits Explained:
Considering Avengers: Age of Ultron didn’t have a Post-Credits scene, we knew Ant-Man would have an especially important Post-Credits that would serve as the end of Phase 2 and the start of Phase 3. Well we were right, and it was certainly a massive one considering it involved Captain America and Falcon reuniting with Bucky (The Winter Soldier), who’s still a little out of it. Though when does this take place? What does this mean?
I was asked to not post the scene under any circumstances, BUT I can share with you a transcript of the dialogue: So use this to refresh your memory and then we’ll break it down.
Falcon: Hey Cap…
*Winter Soldier shown with his robotic arm mangled in some machinery*
F: This would have been a lot easier a week ago
Captain: If we call Tony…
F: Nah, he wont believe us
C: Even if he did…
F: Who knows if The Accords would let him help
C: We’re on our own
F: Maybe not, I know a guy
First things first, let’s place the timing of this scene. Unless we get some VERY direct setting up in Season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, this scene most likely takes place during the events of Civil War. How do we know this? Well let’s look at the scene: Falcon right away says that finding The Winter Soldier “would have been a lot easier a week ago”, which means that something big just happened not just between Cap & Tony, but in transparency in general.
When they talk about Tony ‘believing’ them, they’re not talking about him simply believing Bucky is alive. It’s not a question of belief – Bucky isn’t Nessie – but rather a question of trust. Something must have been revealed prior to this scene, most likely tied with the potential revelation that Bucky killed Tony’s parents while he was under Hydra’s control. They can’t tell Tony because there is fear he won’t believe them about how he was ‘brainwashed’. He might be too blinded by rage, but even if he did believe them, would he be able to?
Falcon makes mention of The Accords not letting Tony help. So who are The Accords and since when does anyone control Tony Stark? Well The Accords could be the MCU name of the Pro-Registration Bill factions. As I mentioned in the previous section, Civil War is all about controlling powered individuals and having their identities on file, which can of course be used to very dangerous ends in the wrong hands *cough* blackmailing loved ones. Tony will be on the Pro-Registration side in hopes that he can do it by the book and control the outcomes.
If The Accords are the Pro-Registration side, then they certainly aren’t going to like the idea of Tony hiding a wanted and unaccounted for killer. This would undermine Tony’s position and could sabotage any ‘Good’ he’d think could come from his ‘insider stance’. We of course won’t get to see this all play out until 2016, but it’s still interesting to note how much Civil War is going to change these characters dynamics: Cap the Boy Scout turned rebel; and Ironman the rebel who’s trying to do things by the book now. It’s no wonder Ant-Man Scott Lang will find himself on Team Cap – fighting for the greater good against the big guys is kind of his thing!
Spider-Man Set-Up/Easter Egg:
I’m kind of surprised more people aren’t talking about this, but yes – there was a Spider-Man Easter Egg in this film. In fact, Director Peyton Reed even confirmed it to The Huffington Post.Anyway – in case you missed it – while Luis is recounting to Scott how an Avenger was asking about him, we see Falcon talking to a female journalist. During this conversation, the journalist tells Falcon he has to be more specific since there’s been quite a few new powered people appearing, which is of course supported by Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , but it’s the examples she gave that caught our ears.
The reporter quickly says that there’s now powered beings who “jump, swing and climb up walls. When she says ‘jump’ my mind first thought she was talking about Batroc The Leaper – whom we saw Captain America battle briefly at the start of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Though once she said “swing” and “climb up walls”, there’s only one clear choice, our Friendly Neighborhood – Marvel Cinematic Universe – Spider-Man!
Spidey, who will be played by Tom Holland, won’t physically appear until Captain America: Civil War next year, but as we’ve learned from Feige, this film will already see an established Spider-Man. This supports the notion that there is already a teenage boy in a homemade costume swinging around Manhattan; but despite his ‘cameo’ in Civil War, Spidey won’t have sustained screen time until his first adventure in the new Co-Run Marvel/Sony Spider-Man re-reboot due out in 2017.
I Understood That Reference – Easter Eggs, Tie-Ins & More:
- It’s important to note that the majority of this film is the product of original Director Edgar Wright. Peyton Reed did a fantastic job of pulling it back together from Wright’s departure, but you still must give Wright props for coming up with this story in the first place.
- As the film opens, we not only see a graying Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the return of John Slattery as the older Ironman 2 version of Howard Stark; but also what appears to be the Triskelion – the massive S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters in Captain America: The Winter Soldier being built.
- The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent you don’t recognize here – and will later reappear in the present time funding Cross – is Mitchell “Mitch” Carson, a high ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who in the comics was driven to great lengths to acquire an Ant-Man. He’s killed many people in his time – even his own father – and was eventually taken down by Ironman when he tortured and tried to kill the current Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady. As for the MCU version of him, making a Hydra turncoat just made a lot more sense – and was something we probably all saw coming from the start.
- When Scott comments on Hope watching him sleep, my mind couldn’t help but wander back to Coulson admitting to Captain America that he watched him sleep.
- This film represents Marvel’s first attempt at the ‘Heist’ genre of films, and they did so brilliantly. With the set-up and planning montages, it actually felt like watching Ocean’s Eleven … or in this case, Pym’s Six.
- Have we ever loved an Ant as much as Antony? I’m sad he had to die; and yet I can’t help but wonder what he’ll follow the usual comic trope of no one actually dying. Could this mean… Ant-Man 2: The Winter Ant – Antony comes back with face paint and one metal wing lol
- The film’s ant-talk about Bullet Ants being attackers, Crazy Ants short circuiting electronics, Carpenter Ants as flying steeds and Fire Ants as architects is actually fairly spot on! A bite from a Bullet Ant is sometimes called “the worst pain known to man”; Crazy Ants can be attracted to electrical outlets and can occasionally cause short-circuits; some Carpenter Ants do take flight; and surprisingly enough Fire Ants do actually make INCREDIBLE structures with their own bodies. Even Fire Ants making a raft is an occurrence seen naturally in nature.
- Even before we saw the Logo, the ‘old Stark Warehouse in upstate New York’ should have immediately rung a bell for you since we learned that the new Avengers base was in New York state as well. The world Marvel Cinematic Universe is big, but it can also be small.
- “It’s really important to me that Cap never finds out about this” – Falcon after getting beaten up by Ant-Man. This also shows that Falcon still sees Cap as the only one he has to impress #Bromance
- When Luis infiltrates Cross Technologies and still decides to whistle – despite being told not to – he is whistling “It’s a small world after all” – which is not only a famous song from Disney Ride; but also fits this film really well.
- Saying that Hydra is trying to redeem itself and is making a lot of strides in the science industry was explored in the first half of Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As you can imagine though, working for evil organization Hydra and corporate applied science Hydra is a distinction without a difference.
- In the comics, Pym Particles were said to borrow space from something known as the Kosmos Dimension. It’s unclear whether this is where the films will take it; but considering we hear how time stops at the Subatomic Level, this COULD eventually be explored more.
- In the comics, Ant-Man and Wasp always had a romantic relationship. This is of course achieved in the film by Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne; but it is continued through the end of the film as the new Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and Hope van Dyne (the soon to be new Wasp) are seen kissing.
- Contrary to those – most likely planted – earlier reports, Stan Lee DID have a cameo in this film, and he appeared towards the end in Luis’s story as the bartender
- Hope saying “It’s about damn time” to receiving her Wasp suit can also apply to this film in the first place, considering it was in production since before Ironman (2008) came out.
- Remember “Baskin Robbins always finds out”…
Show Stealing Luis & Deleted Scenes:
One final thing to note is that Luis (played by Michael Peña) was truly fantastic in this role. Originally he was meant to just be a slight supporting character to fill up a scene or two, but thanks to some rewrites and reshoots, he was able to become the character we loved so much! Though it seems like some of the funniest moments might have been cut from the final version of the film (as you can see below). All we can say it, PLEASE let this be on the DVD ‘Deleted Scenes’ section. But either way, we might actually be able to see more Luisin the future since Peña actually has a 3 film contract. Sequel perhaps? Maybe then they can explain why he always has that one-hit knockout punch.
So there you have it! Despite initially looking like Marvel’s first flop, Ant-Man hit it out of the park! Sure it might not be their highest grossing film, but it’s still an excellent film made even more impressive by all the roadblocks it overcame! The Marvel Cinematic Universe will return next year with the kick off of Phase 3, Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange.