Yesterday, Marvel released the first full trailer for Ant-Man, which hits theaters July 17th. There’s a lot of cool stuff to see and we break it down shot by shot, below! I’m intentionally not taking screencaps of some of the things we’ve seen before, because we have a previous article here where we break down the teaser trailer.
We start out with a shot of San Francisco. We’ve seen other shots of it in the teaser trailers, but this is where the story takes place. Certainly a tech-friendly city and different from New York.
We hear Darren Cross (the bald guy seen above, entering some sort of high-tech chamber) saying: “Imagine a soldier… the size of an insect…” Darren Cross was not a huge villain in the Marvel Comics but he was an antagonist for the Scott Lang (Paul Rudd’s character) version of Ant-Man. He was a self-made man and the founder of Cross Technological Enterprises. He had a heart condition and kidnapped a doctor to save himself. Scott’s daughter had the same heart condition and rescued the doctor to help his daughter, Cassie. This adventure happened in Marvel Premiere issues #47-48 in 1979 by writer David Michilinie and artist Bob Layton. There’s no indication in the trailers that Cross has a heart condition, but we have seen that Lang has a daughter.
We see some quick cut shots of Ant-Man landing in a 3-point stance (customary for superheroes these days), a lightbulb exploding and a soldier getting thrown throw a wall. The Ant-Man helmet is pretty accurate to the comics. The suit itself is a bit reminiscent of the 3rd Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady, created by Robert “Walking Dead” Kirkman and artist Phil Hester. That character is super unlikely to appear but he was a low level SHIELD agent that stole the Ant-Man suit for his own benefit. Scott Lang also stole the suit but only to save his daughter and the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, gave him permission to keep it and be a hero.
Darren Cross finishes his sentance: “The ultimate secret weapon.” Here he is speaking with scientists and businessmen at Pym Industries. So it seems he works at Pym’s company in this movie, unless he maybe does a hostile takeover somehow.
The shot cuts to employees clapping as though they agree with Cross, but that’s just for the trailer because the lab and this hallway are obviously two different shots. In the center, you can see a portrait of Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym. It’s more likely the employees are clapping for him returning in some fashion.
Hank Pym is heard saying: “You give godlike powers to everyone? It’s gonna be chaos.” His daughter, Hope, is shown talking to Hank and says: “So how do we stop him?” and he answers: “I know a guy…”
I originally figured they’d have a fractious relationship but they seem to be working together pretty closely in the trailer. Hope is an interesting addition because she does not exist as Hank’s daughter in the normal comics stories. In fact, in the comics Hank isn’t much older than Scott Lang. But there were a series of comics from 1998 to 1999 (A-Next) about a potential future group of Avengers that were the descendants of the current superheroes. Hope was the daughter of Hank Pym (and Janet van Dyne, aka the Wasp) but she was a villain. She also had a brother that was a villain. Nothing in the trailers indicates that she is a villain, that she has a brother or that her mother is still alive. So there are some big departures from what comics readers might expect. A lot of this is in service to the story and to more clearly carry a father/daughter theme.
Our first indication that this movie is having fun is when the Marvel logo goes from red to black. It features hundreds of ants swarming the screen instead of a traditional fade out. This movie was written and directed by folks with backgrounds in comedy. Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) created the story and the screenplay was by Adam McKay (Anchorman) and Paul Rudd. It was directed by Peyton Reed (Down with Love).
We see Scott Lang in a prison fight. In the comics, Lang was an electronics expert who’d fallen on hard times and turned to burglary to support his family. He was caught and served three years and was then paroled for good behavior. While in prison, he studied electronics further and when he was released, he was hired by Tony Stark. Lang worked on the Avengers’ security system and that’s how he was able to steal the Ant-Man suit when he had to help his daughter. Will the movie version be an electronics expert or just a burglar?
Over the last few shots, we hear Hank Pym in voiceover: “Scott, I’ve been watching you for a while. You’re different. And I believe everyone deserves a shot at redemption. Do you?” Hank Pym is one of the earliest Marvel superheroes. He first appeared as a scientist in the comic Tales to Astonish #27 from 1962, by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber. He shrunk himself and had to escape ants. He returned in Tales to Astonish #35 as Ant-Man for the first time. In issue #44 he had a girlfriend, Janet van Dyne, who used his technology to become Wasp. They were founding members of Avengers.
As we see Scott breaking into a house, he answers: “Absolutely. My days of breaking into places and stealing things are over! What do you want me to do?”
Pym gives him a straight answer after a beat: “I want you to break into a place and steal some stuff.” Scott nods and says: “Makes sense…” The teaser trailer didn’t have much in the way of jokes or gags, but this one shows that it’s probably a bit of a comedy, a bit of a heist film.
We get a few shots we’ve seen before of Scott in close-up and Hank’s voiceover: “Are you ready to become the hero?” Besides being the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym used his technology to also become Giant Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket. Giant Man and Goliath used the ability to grow as well as shrink and Yellowjacket had wings like Wasp that allowed him to fly. While the movie version of Hank Pym absolutely created shrinking and ant-controlling technology, it’s unclear if he himself ever suited up as a superhero in the past.
Hope gets a voiceover. She says: “Now the suit has power. You have to learn how to control it.” While we hear this, Scott is in a car, staring at four ants and a penny on the dashboard. The ants work together to lift and spin a penny. Interestingly, Scott is not wearing the helmet while this happens. In the comics, the helmet is what allows the user to control ants.
Scott tests the Ant-Man suit in his tub. There’s a trigger on the glove. Look at the forearm area. There seem to be tubes there. I’m not sure what makes everything shrink, but maybe it’s some type of serum that flows through the suit? In the comics, Hank Pym discovers subatomic particles that he dubs Pym Particles. He creates two serums that allow him to shrink and reverse that he releases in a gas form.
As Scott shrinks in what must be a test run that he’s doing in his bathtub, Hope says: “And these are your greatest allies…” The shrinking effect they use shows ghosted versions of Ant-Man at different sizes as he rapidly shrinks. It’s a great nod to how artists, especially Jack Kirby, represented him changing size.
Scott meets a baby yellow ant and tells it: “You’re kinda cute.” Nothing makes a hero likable as fast as them treating small animals well.
Here’s a shot of Scott running with ants. I don’t think they’re chasing him. I’m pretty sure he’s gathering them for something.
Hope’s voiceover continues: “When you’re small, you have superhuman strength. You’re like a bullet. So you need to know how to punch.” This is interspersed with shots of Scott rapidly changing size to avoid security guards punches, grabbing their tie, expanding to full size and throwing them, then shrinking again to avoid gunfire. In the comics, Ant-Man has his regular human strength at ant size but he seems to get much stronger the smaller he gets in the movie. It’s a different set of powers than we’ve seen depicted on screen in live action and it looks like the filmmakers have brainstormed all sorts of interesting things that could happen.
Scott is amused and puts up his hand for Hope to punch, saying: “You want to show me how to punch? Show me how to pu-” WHAM! She just punches him in the face instead. Hope: “That’s how you punch.” Not sure why Hope is the expert on fighting. That makes me curious about her backstory.
Ant-Man hooks some sort of rappelling device to his belt and dives down a tunnel. Or maybe it’s a small tube because he appears to be shrunken down here. It has a heist vibe like something out of the first Mission Impossible.
We get a number of shots of Darren Cross walking through the building cut with shots of Ant-Man infiltrating a lab (at least that’s what it looks like). Over this, Cross says: “You tried to hide your suit from me. Now? It’s gonna blow up in your face. Then destroy everyone you care about” So he’s almost definitely confronting Hank Pym when he says that. Then we see Cross suiting up with the Yellowjacket armor which appears to be a weaponized version of the Ant-Man suit, complete with some sort of energy pincers. Yellowjacket was never a villain in the comics, but certainly someone stealing Ant-Man’s technology would be a danger. When Hank Pym took on the Yellowjacket identity, he WAS having a mental breakdown. He thought of himself as ONLY Yellowjacket and once accidentally backhanded Wasp who was trying to reason with him. Unfortunately, that led to fans thinking of Hank as a spouse abuser and writers have tried to back out of that ever since. The writer of that issue, Jim Shooter, has said that he never meant for Hank to hit Wasp, so much as accidentally bump her while flailing his arms but artist Bob Hall misinterpreted it and it looks like an intentional slap. Pym was angry at this point because he had recently been brainwashed by Ultron (yup, the one in the upcoming Avengers sequel) who he had created but who also went haywire. The Avengers kicked Pym out for that and he was frustrated. None of that will be in the movie.
Can’t be a summer blockbuster without massive explosions.
Hope gets on a radio and shouts: “Scott, get out of there.” As little Ant-Man, he’s sliding out of a helicopter, but grabs a safety harness and expands to full size, dangling out of the helicopter. I wonder, if he fell at Ant-Man size, would he really get hurt? Like, he weighs so little I don’t think it would have a big impact.
Yellowjacket and Ant-Man fight, shrinking and growing. Intercut with shots of Ant-Man controlling tons of ants. Yellowjacket shouts: “Did you think you could stop the future? You’re just a thing!” Scott answers, confident then a bit embarrassed: “No, I’m Ant-Man. I know… wasn’t my idea…”
Finally, we build up to a big moment where Yellowjacket is stuck on the toy train tracks and Thomas the Tank Engine barrels down on him.
He’s actually terrified. Maybe it’s his first time shrinking.
The shot then cuts to a normal, static view and the train just falls over in a very anticlamactic (and very funny) manner.
Finally, Ant-Man picks up a caboose and throws it. I love that this movie is making a big action set piece over a toy train. Finally, we get a sense that the movie has some good humor and gags. I’m looking forward to July. You?