Marvel Cinematic Retrospective: Ant Man

Marvel Cinematic Retrospective

Fans today are living in a Golden Age of movies based on comic books. Kids, teenagers and adults have grown up on the exploits of superheroes since the 1910's, and more recently in film as well. Among the many comic book producers, few were as prominent and and beloved as Marvel Comics. It was small wonder that they began to produce movies of their own. 

This is a multi-part examination of that effort.

Ant-Man is one of the oldest running comic book heroes in the Marvel catalog, and also a founding member of the Avengers. Though a more recent recipient of film offerings, the character has a storied history in both comics and film.

Believe it or not, work on an Ant-Man film began as early as the 1980's, when Stan Lee approached New World Pictures with the idea. How much work was done in pre-production remains to be seen, but production ultimately ended when Walt Disney Pictures put out their own film involving shrinking people, the hit classic Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Not wanting to compete or be accused of copying, Marvel shelved the idea.

Another attempt was made in early 2000, when Howard Stern approached Marvel with an offer to purchase the film rights to Ant-Man. Artisan Entertainment was tapped to produce the film, and in 2003 Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish were tapped to write the script. By now, many Marvel films had already been produced by other companies, namely Fox's X-Men series and Sony's Spider-man films, and more were underway including a second Fantastic Four movie, Daredevil, and Ghostrider. At the same time, plans were also beginning to formulate about the future vision of Marvel films, as an interconnected series of adventures. Production of the Ant-Man film never really ended during this time, so it can be argued that Ant-Man was one of the first Marvel Cinematic Universe films being worked on. Wright and Kevin Feige were content to take their time with revising the script and making sure the film worked not only for the MCU, but also as a solid work on its own.

By 2012, production had increased to the point where Wright and Marvel finally put together a test reel that was screened at San Diego Comic-Con, and following positive reception, production of the film kicked into high gear. Wright and Cornish finalized their script and casting began in 2013, with Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/the new Ant Man and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, the original Ant Man. Of note, Marvel went out of their way to make a preemptive clarification; unlike in the comics, Hank Pym would not be associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of Ultron, who was also getting a film treatment in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Ant-Man premiered in June 2015, grossing over $180 million domestically and over $330 million internationally. Though most likely planned from the start, production immediately began on the sequel.

A post-scene teased the reintroduction of The Wasp, formerly held by Hank Pym's wife Janet , and now to be by his daughter, Hope. Ant-Man and the Wasp  was scheduled to be filmed in the upcoming year, following a team up with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. For his role in the ensuing events of the film, Scott Lang faced house arrest and cessation of Ant Man-related activities, activities which were in part taken over by Hope as the Wasp. The entire cast (sans Corey Stoll's Darren Cross) returned to the film, also again directed by Peyton Reed. Joining the cast were Michelle Pheiffer as Janet van Dyne, Lawrence Fishburne as Bill Foster/the second Giant-Man, and Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost. Ghost was more of an antagonist than an outright villain, resorting to theft in an effort to save her life. Further notably, the original Ghost in the comics was male, but producers deemed Ghost's gender as irrelevant and opted for Hannah's feminine portrayal.  

Ant-Man and The Wasp released in summer 2018, shortly after Avengers: Infinity War, and taking place concurrently. The film went on to make over $620 million in all markets, outperforming the original and highlighting the impressive appetite for the characters. Scott Lang returned as an instrumental cast-member for the cinematic universe finale, Avengers: Endgame. The pseudo-science and impressive visuals that wowed audiences in 2015 were still impressive in 2019, and played a key role in the final chapter of the saga. 

Marvel is already hard at work on a third Ant-Man film to be filmed in the future. While no production date, subtitle, or cast has been announced, fans can rest assured, we are not done with Ant Man yet.

Stay tuned next time when we discuss Doctor Strange.

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