When the first Ant-Man was released three summers ago, it was a refreshing breeze that aired out an increasingly stuffy and stultifying superhero atmosphere. After the previous four MCU entries all ended with a large population barely escaping decimation from some magic stone or tech-turned-terror — and especially after the heady philosophy, jumbled plotting, and visual mayhem of Age of Ultron — it was a relief and a delight to watch a game cast and a novel superpower excel in the service of a simple yet emotionally resonant story. After original director Edgar Wright was replaced by Peyton Reed, apocalyptic predictions ensued, and Ant-Man dropped from being the most anticipated Marvel film to the least. Those lowered expectations, and its own modest aims, actually worked in the film’s favor. While in hindsight I would argue that Age of Ultron was the better Marvel film that summer, there is something praise-worthy about any film that recognizes what it is, accepts what it is not, and then proceeds with quiet confidence to be itself.
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