The end of phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes in a form smaller than to be expected. After the over the top hype of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film series takes a nice, somewhat calmer change of pace with Ant-Man. It branches off from Marvel proper to create less of a superhero action blockbuster and more of a heist comedy with superheroics in it.
Ant-Man is somehow both epic and mundane at the same time. It's first act is slow, but building, introducing the audience to characters and their backgrounds before they actually meet each other to get the fun started. In some ways, this is more of an actor's film than we've seen from the series, and even manages to fit serious beats into a mostly comedic movie. Michael Douglas is heartwarming, Corey Stoll is fantastic and Evangeline Lilly's Hope might actually be the most compelling female character to come out of the MCU yet. THIS is how you do a badass business woman with a bob correctly. I look forward to seeing where she goes in the future of the franchise.
Of course Ant-Man is also great at ruining those serious moments because the film doesn't take itself too seriously to begin with, which is actually a smart way to get the audience into such an outlandish idea. Paul Rudd has been perfectly cast, balancing the line of silly and sympathetic. It's interesting to note that in addition to having a strong female character, this is probably the most diverse cast in a Marvel film, excluding the many fictional races in a Guardians of the Galaxy. At first this seems great! But then again, this is a heist movie, so it seems unfortunate that diversity really comes in when criminal activity is involved. That being said, this supporting cast is great too, with many funny moments.
Ant-Man is absurd on a level that it should only work in animation where anything can happen, but it's pulled off believably well for live-action. It also feels like a video game, complete with boss levels that need strategic timing to defeat. Once we get into the theatrics that we expect from a Marvel movie, they're still very minuscule and mundane in the grand scheme of things, but they are also bold, beautifully excessive and stunning. When big action scenes take place inside of a bathtub or something as small as a suitcase, you know you're in for something different.
Many complained that Ant-Man wasn't included in the original Avengers movie, as the character plays a major part on the team in the comics. But after seeing his introduction into the MCU, it's completely understandable why they would want to save a smaller film like this for after they've well established their universe. Ant-Man is a different kind of dynamic, though still very wondrous. It's not the big action that you've come to expect from Marvel, but that's kind of the point: to be small, and to be enjoyable as just that. Size doesn't matter, it's all in how you use what you got.