Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel films are lost on me.

During fight scenes or action sequences I tend to glaze over and lose interest. I couldn’t watch the first Avengers film because after 10 minutes I didn’t care about anyone or anything on screen.

Other than Tony Stark’s Robert Downey Jr. delivery I don’t get the humour. Thor I found cringeworthy, and the rest that I saw took themselves way too seriously. I can’t buy into it. I can’t get into that style of acting – that hammy, cheesy croque monsieur of self importance that can inject gravitas into a glance.

That was until Guardians of the Galaxy. Taking an obscure Marvel comic with an absurd premise, attaching a director who had shown his comedic sensibilities and awareness of the superhero tropes in The Specials, and creating something much more subversive. A Marvel film that was self-aware, self-deprecating and funny.

This is what lead me to see Ant-Man. I knew nothing other than Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish had been involved and that it was about an ant-sized superhero. It sounded absurd, surreal and like it would be impossible for it to take itself too seriously. Alas, nothing is impossible in superhero movies.

Whilst the film tried for comedy it felt like it was the ideas, the concepts themselves, that were funny – and so I never really laughed out loud (a couple of exceptions in Michael Pina). The first time Rudd shrinks down to size he is thrown through a series of obvious trials like something out of the Magic Schoolbus or Micro Machines – a bath-tub! a hoover!

I didn’t believe Paul Rudd for a minute. Not as a hacker nor a nimble-ninja cat-burglar. Not a superhero or even a father. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place for believability but I was never involved in the film. What I found really jarring was the whiplash from utter silliness to sober melodrama which I think is symptomatic of this type of film.

Where Guardians parodied the Marvel format, abiding the rules but taking the piss at the same time, Ant-Man just slots right back into it with endless reams of exposition, the obligatory montage sequence, and a heavy dose of melodrama. It felt painted by numbers and I didn’t care about what picture was being created. It’s funny that the stakes of the film are so much lower than the Avengers films (not funny ha-ha) but to me it just captured the problem that I have with Marvel films – I don’t care about anyone in this world. It feels silly. The fight scene between two micro-sized men on a Thomas the Tank Engine track was funny because it acknowledged the format, how Marvel are reliant on scale as a spectacle, on illusory effects.

I know that I am in the minority for not accepting this film as a bit of fun, but it just wasn’t fun for me. It was boring and lifeless. The concept of going sub-atomic was great and so too were the effects used to capture the microscopic landscapes, but it just wasn’t strange enough. It was just another Marvel film. And Marvel films are lost on me. I’m sorry.

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