So Ant-Man is obviously going to play around with the idea of someone becoming a superhero named “Ant-Man”, and I like that it has no problem acknowledging the weirdness of the shrinking superhero while also still being determined to be a superhero flick.
Tongue-in-cheek is hard to do. In the most recent Lone Ranger, there’s a lot of apologizing for the idea of the Lone Ranger, a lot of jokes at the character’s expense. In particular, it doesn’t sit well with me that the character’s iconic catch phrase “Hi Ho, Silver, Away!” is treated without any reverence, as embarrassing.
That’s the line, folks. It’s all well and good to say, “Hey, this is goofy and we acknowledge it.” It’s another to have no respect for the material. This is why I don’t particularly enjoy reboots. They aren’t coming from a place of affection, but rather of “fixing” the material. Timeless material that has lasted for decades, and someone comes along and “makes it better” by removing everything that makes it interesting and unique. From Robocop to Transformers to TMNT, it’s why these things are usually a waste of my time.
Ant-Man, however, is fine with acknowledging the weirdness of the premise (though I still say a shrinking superhero is no more absurd than a guy who fights Nazis will draped in the American flag and throwing a shield around) without insulting the premise.
Basically, what Marvel has going for it is that it never feels like it’s “slumming”. It always feels like they’re eager to make the films they are making. And not just because of money (though, hey, money is a lot of it) but because they genuinely like this stuff.
That’s the missing ingredient in so many other adaptations. DC views its characters as something to fix, to correct. Transformers and TMNT and Robocop have all been updated with a more extreme version of the originals.
But Ant-Man? He shrinks. He can have an epic battle in a model train set. He can save the universe with his army of insects.
And I can completely get behind that.