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Non-Review Review: Ant Man

Ant Man was always going to be a tough one to crack.

There are obvious reasons. Some of them involve the unique production history of the film, which arguably serves as an example of the downside of the tight managerial style operated by Disney and Marvel. Some of them are more fundamental, tied into the legacy and impact of the source material that make adapting Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne to screen a particularly dicey proposal for a family-friendly blockbuster movie studio. There’s a lot of pressure on the film, and a lot that could go wrong.

"You couldn't have called him 'Giant Man'?"

“You couldn’t have called him ‘Giant Man’?”

As such, director Peyton Reed does a pretty good job bringing the character to screen. Adam McKay and Paul Rudd adapted the original story written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, providing a movie that sits more comfortably within the framework of the ever-expanding shared universe. Ant Man is a little clumsy in places, suffering from some of the stock weaknesses of the Marvel film franchises, but it is also clever and fun. All involved shrewdly play to the Marvel house style, offering a light run around populated by likable characters with clear-cut conflicts.

However, Ant Man‘s real strengths become obvious when the film deviates (even slightly) from the standard formula. After seven years of watching superhero films grow bigger and bigger, it’s nice to have a smaller story.

"One size fits all, eh?"

“One size fits all, eh?”

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – Mighty Avengers: Assemble & Secret Invasion (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

This is the ninth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s core continuity (and in particular their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

After the schism of Civil War, a title like Mighty Avengers makes sense on some level. If you’ve pitted heroes against heroes in a contest that you’ve deemed to be allegedly subjective (Marvel’s editorial policy was that there was no right or wrong side to the conflict), then it makes sense to follow the winners as well as the losers. The post-Civil War issues of Bendis’ New Avengers followed those heroes who had fought against registration of superheroes and lost, and Mighty Avengers was launched to offer us an on-going narrative featuring the winning side. It also seems to be a conscious nostalgic effort on the part of author Bendis, perhaps a response to the criticism that his early work on New Avengers steered clear of conventional Avengers storylines – occupied as they were with Japanese ganglands, prison breakouts and Sentry’s inter-personal issues. Here, Bendis seems to be consciously focusing on classic Silver Age devices – in the first run of issues, the State-sanctioned Avengers team faces classic foes like Ultron, the Symbiotes and even Doctor Doom. The problem is that Bendis isn’t necessarily comfortable drafting conventional superheroic fare.

Ultron puts Tony in touch with his feminine side…

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Pixar’s Ant-Man!

Yes, I can’t resist the urge to post every bit of awesome Pixar-related news that comes to my attention. This week it’s the potential payoff on the humongous (yes, I’ve been waiting to use that word a while now) Marvel-Disney deal that broke last week and sent ripples through the geeksphere. I was less-than-interested because I knew it would be years before we say any payoff (given the long Hollywood development cycle) and even more years before Disney got its hands on the movie rights to any ‘big hitters’ (as all the big franchises are tied up with other studios at the moment). There was the thought at the back of my mind that I dared not articulate, but it has happened: Pixar are apparently doing a comic book movie. An Ant-Man movie!

Wait, who?

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na, Antman!

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na, Antman!

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