The new trailer fo Marvel’s Ant-Man hit the interweb today, and was met with much adulation; women and children, tearfully looking to the heavens as the clouds part revealing Kevin Fiege, lord and master of the MCU, dressed in full Galactus garb, as they scream “Thank you! Thank you, Galactus Fiege!” Galactus Fiege then leans through a purple tinged cloud and vomits. Again, much adulation. This just kind of goes on for awhile, and there is no end in sight. Well, until old Galactus Fiege’s contract ends, that is.
Today, the sycophantic Marvel believers were overcome with joy because a movie with Paul Rudd dared to crack wise. Well, flatly crack wise, but wise was cracked, none the less. I’m over come with confusion about the positive response that this trailer has garnered. It looks uninteresting, flat, formulaic, and predictable. I mean, this isn’t exactly blowing my mind, I pretty much feel this way about the vast majority of Marvel Studio’s output thus far. Great casts and great characterizations all wrapped in barely serviceable stories. I understand that “character is key,” and, more often than not, a good character can elevate an otherwise mediocre story, but when that’s all there is, over and over, it gets a little exhausting, frankly.
It appears we are going to get another “heroes journey” type of story. A man of compromised moral fiber makes good, and wants to do the right thing. Oh, I’m sure there will be some tragic reason for his starting disposition. Why bother with complexity?! These movies are for kids! Errr… Grown up kids! Errr… Adults who are brave enough to be children at heart! There! That’s the ticket. Okay, okay, that was really condescending. I’ll cool it. I’m cool, I’m cool. I know plenty of incredibly intelligent and discerning people that enjoy these movies. I don’t get it, personally, but there is nothing wrong with liking these flicks. Okay, glad we cleared that up.
The tone in this trailer is all over the place. It goes from fun, to gravely serious, back to fun. These things aren’t mutually exclusive, or anything, but I really don’t think they’ve pulled it off here. It makes the think about the original intent for the Ant-Man movie. Director, Edgar Wright, had been trying to get this thing made for the better part of a decade, way before The Avengers and all the movies that came before it. He was on the movie up until a few weeks before principal photography started, and then, for some reason, Marvel and Wright parted ways. Marvel found a new director, drafted new scripts, and continued on. This is pure speculation on my part, but I have a feeling it had to do with control.
Ant-Man is not the first Marvel Studios film to have problems behind the scenes. Thor 2 had a bunch of problems. They even booted the original director of that movie. Marvel Studios isn’t interested in creators with unique takes on their properties. The individual movies are there to serve a larger purpose; namely their Avengers‘ franchise. Everything gets undercut, and under served because, a lot of the time, they are just connective tissue for the larger narrative, rather than being the best stories they can be on a individual level. It’s why these films are littered with lame villains and even lamer plots. Everything has to be saved for the “event” films. Why can’t every movie be an event film? I’m not talking about throwing tons of money at every project, spectacle can often feel pretty hollow, but, just maybe, take more care with these stories, and give them some more “significant” stuff to do, is all I’m saying. These movies don’t need auteurs, but for the sake of variety it would be nice. It would maybe wash some of that “assembly line” stank off of them.
That’s my biggest problem with this trailer. It looks like another movie made under the tutelage of “get in line” people. Like I said before: Uninteresting, flat, and predictable looking. It’s so standard boilerplate looking. They’ve been making these movies for almost a decade, and the presented style is getting a little long in the tooth. I say all this with no pleasure. I want to like these movies; I really do. I’m not even saying that I think they’re all terrible. Every once in awhile one of them is good on it’s own terms. For instance, I enjoyed Captain America: Winter Soldier. It focuses on it’s contained story, and actually has something to say about the universe. Oh, and it did that while serving the larger franchise narrative. So, it can be done, folks! Hopefully, it’s an example of what’s to come for these movies, rather than a bright spot in a dreary assembly line.
Having said all that, the train sequence at the end of the trailer looks pretty great. Maybe even fun. There, I said something positive.
Right now I’m making my way through Netflix/Marvel’s Daredevil series(More on that another day.), and you know what? It’s pretty great so far! It acknowledges the larger MCU, but is allowed to exist on it’s own terms. This type of storytelling should be the standard for Marvel Studios moving forward. There’s a lot of smart and talented people working on these franchises, so, hopefully the future will be a little less draconian and more artist driven.
In all honesty, I’m probably going to skip Ant-Man until it hits video, or Netflix. There really is nothing here that gets me excited. It’s a shame, too. I kind of like Ant-Man!