Warning: this article contains spoilers for Ant-Man and Iron Man.
A month has passed since Ant-Man was released and with current box-office takings of over $320 million USD and an average score of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s fair to say Marvel can chalk this up as another win. This success is a testament to the brand that Marvel has built up over the past few years when you consider how ridiculous this character sounds on paper to comic book laymen(or lay-women, ladies can be dumb too). A superhero, that is exactly the opposite of that term and relies on his ultimate power of shrinkage. I can actually remembering loling when I heard the idea back in 2005 and if we’ve learnt anything from that terrible Daredevil movie it’s this; if Ant-Man had been made back then loling would have been the right response.
Before I continue, I must stress that I thoroughly enjoyed Ant-Man and despite its infamous production troubles, Marvel managed to put together a pretty great movie. Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily pulled off larger-than-life performances and Abby Ryder Fortson who plays Cassie Lang has got to be one of the cutest little kids in film history. All in all, it did what every good Marvel movie has done, which was to find the perfect balance between drama and fun but with the added hint of a fading Edgar Wrighty goodness. Above all, Ant-Man really showed its size by acknowledging the ever present Marvel question; “Why don’t we just get the Avengers?”. A question by which you can live your life.
Ok, now that the praise is out of the way, let’s look into the real issue, Ant-Man is the same movie as Iron Man. On the surface, it may not seem like that’s the case but when you watch the facts stack up, it can really become an interesting argument. So firstly, let’s look at the synopsis; A man with a troubled past must face up to his mistakes and decide whether he can change his ways to become a hero. Now that could either be a description of Ant-Man, Iron Man or just the past ten years of Robert Downey Jr.’s life. Of course, the hero wins in the end and the world has claimed itself another superhero. Both Scott and Tony escape prison with the help from an older mentor and then go on to fight a CEO of the very company where their suit was originally designed.
If that’s not enough evidence, there are still the characters to scrutinize. Scott and Tony are very similar characters, while Scott can’t exactly be considered a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist, you could say he’s a genius, unemployed, struggling, vigilante father. Alright, so only one word stayed the same there but they are both smart, loveable, quick witted, physically fit – even though that doesn’t help their powers – white men. Just a quick side note, how annoyed would Paul Rudd have been to have worked out so hard to get those abs for them to only appear in the film for about ten seconds? Is it also another coincidence that the two fall in love with company women?
Then we come to the villain, who not only is a CEO of the suit’s company as I said but THEY ARE BOTH BALD! If that’s not enough, they both want the suit’s technology to sell to a terrorist organisation and steal it from the original creator. I suppose not surprisingly they are also semi-good guys to begin with, I mean it wasn’t a huge twist but they tried. There’s no way anyone is ever going to believe Corey Stoll was a good guy anyway, he already looks like a villain.
There are also a few smaller parallels, like the blatant use of product placement, which is forgivable given how hilariously they were handled in both films. Colour schemes stand out, though that could be a concerted decision, there is a lot of red in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One other thing that has really been bugging me is that there is this weird old man that seems to get a part in all the movies. Obviously that was a joke, so no need for any angry nerd rants here. How about as a form of apology I will let you know this interesting fact; despite him only ever having cameos, Stan Lee is now the third highest grossing box-office actor of all time.
Ant-man is a difficult case to judge when it comes to these things because you can never really know who to point the finger at. Did Edgar Wright and Josh Cornish forget they’d seen Iron Man and think all the ideas were their own? Was the entire film Peyton Reed’s homage to his favourite of the series of films? Or did they run out of time with all the troubles they had been having and Kevin Feige just said, “Screw it, Iron Man worked, let’s just do that again”? It’s a mystery for the ages.