Today’s fantastic feature film takes us to 2015 for Ant-Man, the finale proper for Phase Two and an unlikely tie-in to Civil War.
- “I think our first move should be calling The Avengers.” Ant-Man is a superhero movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that manifests even as a response to its own existence within the franchise. We’ve been wondering all along, “Where’s Iron Man? Thor could settle this in a heartbeat. Why didn’t they call Hawkeye?” Ant-Man hangs a lantern on the difficulties of a shared universe, but surprisingly Hank Pym has a solid answer for this one – a disdain for the Stark family that goes way back (and, honestly, how is this the first time anyone’s had a real grudge against the Starks?). I wonder if that grudge gets passed down from Ant-Man to Ant-Man, and if we’ll see it in Civil War...
- “How about the fact that I fought an Avenger and didn’t die?” But for all the pondering about where the Avengers are, Ant-Man manages to deliver by including Falcon (Anthony Mackie), the runaway breakout star of Phase Two. While a heavy-hitter like Black Widow might have dismantled Ant-Man in a heartbeat, pitting the miniature man against Falcon allows us to see how Falcon’s growing in his Avengers training while allowing Mackie some bonus screen time in the role he clearly loves to play. With both of them on Team Cap in Civil War, what are the odds that this scene gets referenced?
- “They’re doing some interesting work.” Hang on, Hydra’s still kicking? After being decapitated in Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, and several times on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s long-running baddies get knocked down, but they get up again. (Well, you know what they say about two more heads.) Here it’s Mitchell Carson, played by veteran character actor Martin Donovan. If anyone can exude seediness with a glare, it’s Donovan. We’re almost certainly going to see him and his stolen Pym Particles again at some point, although perhaps not until Ant-Man and the Wasp (due 2018). And what do you know? Carson was once a SHIELD insider too. It’s all connected, forwards and back.
- “It’s about damn time.” I didn’t mention this last week, but Age of Ultron only had a midcredits scene, the first Marvel movie not to go full postcredits since The Incredible Hulk. Consequently, it may have felt that Phase Two ended with Thanos donning his empty gauntlet. Nay, I say thee, nay – Ant-Man gestures toward its own sequel by giving Hope Van Dyne her own suit and by teasing us with a glimpse of the immediate future with a Bucky-centric snippet from Civil War. We know that, at some point, Falcon and Cap nab Bucky, fearing how Tony Stark might react. We’ll know how that scene plays out in a fortnight, folks.
- “It’s the wrong details.” For as much as Ant-Man is a continuity hound’s delight, featuring cameos from an aging Peggy Carter and nodding in every direction to SHIELD, Hydra, Wasps of future past, and even a Spider-Man tease (“We got a guy who crawls up the walls”), it also adds a chock ton of new faces to the MCU. For one, I’m really hoping we see much more of Luis (Michael Peña) in the Marvel Universe; his nervous ramblings and tangential details make any story worth hearing – hey, could he do DVD commentaries for all the movies? And Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is right at home as one of Marvel’s well-dressed insidious businessmen, essentially a clean-shaven Obadiah Stane.