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Ant-Man: The Unloved Avenger

| Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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As the summer box office draws to a close, we can now take a final look back at all of our favorite blockbusters and glean whatever we can from the data in the hopes of making sense of what the future looks like for these franchises.

Some films, like “Jurassic World,” did so great that, after the biggest worldwide opening ever and a total haul of more than $1.5 billion, Universal Studios put the film back into a number of IMAX 3D Theatres for a second go-around to get even more people to purchase $30 tickets. Other films such as “Ant-Man” have been some of the biggest financial disappointments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

According to data from Box Office Mojo, “Ant-Man” has a current worldwide box office revenue of $366 million, which makes it the second worst performing movie in the MCU, only in front of 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.”

Unfortunately, this sort of performance may not bode well for the world’s smallest hero. Ant-Man could likely be relegated to only appearing in big team-up movies such as 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1” a la Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk character. We already know Marvel does not have plans for Ant-Man through Phase 3 of its cinematic universe, which means it’ll be at least 2020 before we see another Ant-Man movie, if there even is one.

Results such as this are a shame because “Ant-Man” definitely deserved a better reception at the box office. Paul Rudd’s titular character and the story surrounding his origin created one of the most compelling, unique and fun chapters in Marvel’s massive film franchise.

With “Ant-Man,” we get treated to Marvel’s first movie to focus on a single one of its B-list characters, rather than a core member of its premier Avengers team. While “Ant-Man” could have been another generic origin story where the superhero has to save the world from impending doom, Marvel embraced the B-list nature of this character and shrunk the stakes to make a much more personal, ant-sized heist movie.

This is great because it gives the superhero genre a breath of fresh air from the tired, city-sized action sequences that plague the silver screen these days. Seriously, in one part of “Ant-Man,” Paul Rudd’s character takes out the bad guys by running up their guns and flying into their face. The climax of the movie even takes place in a bedroom where a “Thomas the Tank Engine” track serves as the main set piece. These are unique, awesome scenes that simply couldn’t happen within the more serious narrative frames of A-list superheroes.

The more personal narrative allows Ant-Man to be a much more fleshed out character than a number of other Marvel superheroes. Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is an ex-con with a complicated past, a wisecracking jerk who wins over the girl and above all a father who wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his daughter. This complexity adds to the interest set forth by the action sequences and pushes the narrative forward into uncharted territories for superheroes.

“Ant-Man” was a fun, unique and interesting superhero film that just hasn’t seemed to have gotten the love it deserves at the box office.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Marvel’s smallest hero, as the movie still has a few weeks left in theaters and will almost certainly pass “Captain America: The First Avenger” in worldwide revenue to become only the ninth worst performing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Furthermore, Ant-Man has been confirmed to play a role in next year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” so his time on the big screen isn’t over yet.

And although “Ant-Man” may not have been the financial success Marvel had hoped for, the future looks bright for the Marvel B-list, with Black Panther, Doctor Strange and even The Inhumans set to star in their own films as part of Marvel’s Phase 3. Thankfully, Marvel hasn’t given up on its weirder characters, and we can look forward to more interesting takes on the superhero genre in the very near future.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Jimmy Kemper

Scene writer, Economics major, and Seinfeld enthusiast

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