The MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE Knockout: Round 1 ANT-MAN - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Let's dive through the keyhole...

Join us now as we start the third match-up in Round 1 of our great Marvel Cinematic Universe movie knock-out. If you're joining us for the first time, here's a brief recap of the rules.

Each of the initial articles in Round 1 will focus on one character or team, like Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man or The Avengers, and we will look at all their solo Marvel Cinematic Universe films, with only the best release moving onto the next stage. Characters with only one solo movie outing, like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange, get a pass through this round, but we won't go easy on them in Round 2 as they will be immediately pitted against each other, and if they don't match up to their opponent they're out of the running.

In the first bout we eliminated Iron Man 2 and 3, leaving the original 2008 offering, the debut movie in the MCU, to go forward to Round 2. Bout 2 saw Vol 1 of Guardians of the Galaxy eliminated, in favour of Vol 2. Today we turn our attention to the two Ant-Man movies to date, and decide which one is the best. Spoilers will feature from the off.

Of the three bouts so far, this is probably the toughest to call so far. Both Ant-Man movies exist, largely, independent from the rest of the MCU. For a long time, it could be argued that you could actually skip them both and not really miss anything. That was until the pivotal inclusion of the quantum realm in Avengers: Endgame retroactively made the two films semi-essential viewing, but then during Endgame Ant-Man kinda does explain everything you need to know. Hence the semi-essential viewing at most.

That's not to say they are not enjoyable, because they are both great fun and have been scheduled for release by a savvy Marvel marketing department at just the right time. The first film closing out Phase Two, after Age of Ultron and before Civil War, the second after the devastating closing events of Infinity War, providing some much needed, timely light entertainment. And, naturally, with Paul Rudd as the lead actor, they are more lighthearted than any other Marvel film. Although on the whole Marvel have had a great track record of successfully incorporating humour throughout all their features (GOTG, Thor Ragnarok being great examples of this).

Going back to the 'existing outside the other MCU films' point, they don't of course but the shoe-horning of Falcon into the first film certainly felt as if Marvel were trying to remind people of that, rather than it being a natural inclusion as Marvel have usually been so good at.

The tone of the films are quite different too. They are much more subtle affairs, non-bombastic adventures (again, positioned wisely at times when the old adage of 'less-is-more' was most definitely needed). They are more like heist-style movies which just happen to have superhero elements, mixed in with a father/daughter family drama. If anything, it's the latter element that, I feel, Paul Rudd excels at in both films. I buy him a lot more as Scott Lang than Ant-Man.

The production of the first film was, notoriously, quite troubled (something we'll get to later), but I don't feel that really affected the finished product. For the sequel, production seemed to go much more smoothly, and Evangeline Lilly was promoted to co-headline act as one half of Ant-Man and the Wasp. She's more believable in the 'superhero' role than Rudd, I feel. And like so many other MCU films, the whole supporting cast are also superb - Michael Douglas as Hank Pym being my own personal favourite, but a very big notable mention for Michael Pena's Luis too.

But between the two films I have to go for the original.

The reason I have picked the first over the sequel is that between watching Ant-Man and The Wasp at the cinema and then again on BluRay, I didn't actually remember that much about it. I mean, I remember they rescued Michele Pfieffer's Janet Van Dyne but the hows and the whys of it all had completely escaped me. All that stuck, really stuck was that after credits scene. I knew I'd enjoyed the film but the mechanics of the plot had escaped me entirely. I never experienced that with the first Ant-Man film. Possibly, the scheduling of the sequel did actually work against it in that aspect. After all, Infinity War was so prominent that it's no surprise the only bit I properly remembered was the only bit which played into that particular feature.

Again, both films are great watches. Palette cleansers amid heavier MCU story elements, but 2015s Ant-Man will be the one joing the original Iron Man film and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 in Round 2 of our Marvel Cinematic Universe Knockout.

Next time, we look at the three Thor features. (say those last three words six times in quick succession!)

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