I’m just back from seeing ANT MAN with my friends Len Wein and Christine Valada. I really liked it. It’s a slight film, but it has heart and humor and thank god we weren’t threatening New York, or the Earth or the Galaxy or the whole damn Universe (Thor: The Dark World). We were also watching it at the sybaritic Cinepolis theater with the full bar and meals and four kinds of popcorn (caramel corn — yum) and reclining leather seats with foot rests, etc. etc. Paul Rudd is charming and not at all the muscle bound hero. Michael Peña damn near steals the film. Evangeline Lilly is a smart competent woman who isn’t traditionally Hollywood beautiful. The villain felt like he’d been pulled from central casting — all he lacked was a mustache, but the fight sequences were fun because the direction and writers never took them too seriously. Scenes that were titanic in power when the guys are ant sized are presented as silly when the would pull back to the real world to show a toy train falling over with a tiny “tink”.
I noticed that GRRM wrote a post about Ant Man and talked about the Marvel movies and his rankings (which are wrong 😏 (Teasing. You get that I’m teasing, right? I assume some of you heard our debate at the Worldcon in Reno so you know George and I have a long history of disagreeing in fun and with great abandon.) Anyway, I thought I’d try and set him straight. Anyway, here’s my list in order of terrific and why. The two Spiderman films aren’t technically part of the Marvel juggernaut, but he’s a Marvel character so I’m going to include him.
SPIDERMAN 2 with Toby McGuire and Doc Ock (not those terrible remakes). The scene where he stops the train and the commuters realize he’s “just a kid” can make me cry every time.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Certainly the first half of that film is damn near perfect. After that it becomes your typical superhero movie, but the early scenes with Dr. Erskine are just perfection. I use that movie when I teach because it shows the power of the medium to say in a visual what would take pages in a book.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – a perfect little jewel of a movie with flawed characters who touch your heart and who actually grow and change in interesting ways.
IRON MAN 1 — Terrific film about a man finding his soul. They should have stopped there and just let him be a brilliant asshole in the Avengers movies.
THOR and not just because… Loki (sigh). I use that film when I teach to help illustrate the difference between plot and theme.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS – beautiful evocation of a different time and the relationship between Charles and Erik is gorgeous. It didn’t hurt that the movie had two top ranked actors in those roles.
AVENGERS – I liked the film a great deal. Too many action sequences but at least they seemed like they were designed to move the story forward. Unlike the second Avengers film which seemed designed to just have another big CGI fight.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – a grown up film about issues of freedom and security and a man and a woman who are merely friends.
ANT MAN – (see above)
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (the less said about X-Men 3 the better and this film fixed that).
SPIDERMAN – the first film with Toby McGuire
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
So, I think I’ll stop there. This was fun thinking back on all the hours of genuine entertainment these films have provided.