Ant-Man has had a lot working against it. There was the trouble with Edgar Wright leaving the production, and then there’s been the prejudice cries of failure coming from comic fans and non-comic fans alike. Much like Scott Lang, and the character of Ant-Man in general, the odds were stacked steeply against it. Granted, the odds were stacked against Guardians of the Galaxy when it was released as well, but that was mostly because more people were less familiar with those characters. People have just seemed to arbitrarily not like Ant-Man, or at best they’ve been mockingly indifferent. Earlier this week one of our own writers, and a good friend of mine, Jeff, posted an article asking the question, “Is Ant-Man Too Much Marvel?”
That’s a fair question and I respect Jeff’s thoughts as he was respectful and polite about sharing them, so none of this is intended to be an aggressive rebuttal or argumentative, but merely an explanation as to why I don’t believe Ant-Man is too much Marvel. I will also try to leave my personal feelings to the side and use facts and figures to make my point. To do that though, I have to sink to a level I’m personally not proud of. See, I put pretty much zero stock in what “film critics” say. You know the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.”? I think that should be changed to, “Those who can’t do, become film critics.” But alas, to make my point I’m going to have to use them. Specifically, I’m going to use the website Rotten Tomatoes, which is arguably the film critic site I like least of all. Rotten Tomatoes assigns films and television shows a number percentage value based on professional critic reviews, as well as one based on viewer reviews. While I disapprove of treating any kind of art like a middle-school social studies test, the mass collective of opinions the site gathers is actually very beneficial to how I intend to convey my point-of-view as it represents the voice of many. I will also be using film budgets and box office revenue numbers to prove the monetary success of the MCU films.
Also, just to clarify, we are only talking about the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films here. Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The X-Men, Fantastic Four, and past Spider-Man films, as well as any Marvel comics films that were produced by any other studio will be excluded as Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) has no control over those films and therefore can’t be held responsible for their contribution to the deluge of comic book movies.
In it’s first weekend of release, Ant-Man was the box office winner, bringing in roughly $58 million domestically. It is also currently Certified Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes with a 79% critic rating (the rating number can fluctuate), which is more than Jurassic World or even Avengers: Age of Ultron. Additionally, it has a user score of 92%. AoU has an 87% user rating, and JW has an 82% user rating.
But how about the other MCU films? Does Ant-Man hold it’s weight against them? Well, here’s the break down in the order they were released. All budget and box office facts were taken from Wikipedia. Also, I’m well aware of the rising cost of movie tickets and it’s affects on the income numbers. The purpose of this, though, is more about how much each film made compared to much it cost to make. (Additionally, any film that is certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes will be marked with a “cf”)
(I’ve left Ant-Man off the list due to it being so new. However, the film’s budget is estimated at 130M and globally it’s already made almost 115M in less than a week of release. It’s safe to say that it will definitely make it’s budget back, and likely go on to earn double that.)
Based on the data above (god that felt satisfyingly nerdy to say), we can see that only two MCU films have not been certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, The Incredible Hulk and Thor 2, but it’s important to note, as well, that neither of those films falls into “rotten” territory either. Which is especially interesting to me considering how widely panned The Incredible Hulk is. Even with as much negativity that gets thrown at that film, a grouping of professional critics opinions still don’t earn it a low enough score to be officially be considered an “artistic failure”, and it has a one-number-higher score than Thor: TDW. Admittedly notable is that The Incredible Hulk is also the only one to not make more than double it’s budget at the box office, but it still made over 100M during it’s theatrical run.
Ever since The Avengers, the MCU films have continued to increase their revenue and while it does fluctuate some none of these films can be labeled “financial failures”. Also, with the exception of Iron Man 1, it seems that each sequel has been better well received by the regular viewers than than the film proceeding it. Even Iron Man 3 shows to be more liked than Iron Man 2. One could even argue that Captain America Civil War is doomed to be a critical “meh” since it will be the second film of Phase 3 of the MCU, considering that Incredible Hulk was the second film of Phase 1 and Thor: TDW was the second film of Phase 2. Yet, I’ve not heard anyone express concern that it will fail to meet positive critical or financial standards. (I probably will now though…)
In the interest of fairness, I let Jeff review this article, as he did for me with his, and he made a valid point that, while Ant-Man was the box office winner it’s opening weekend, it was the 2nd lowest opening of any MCU film so far (The Incredible Hulk opened with only 55M). But to it’s credit, it’s budget is also 20M lower than that film’s, and at 130M it’s the MCU film with the lowest budget to date. Jeff also explained that it’s smaller opening, “May be because of all the successful blockbusters of the summer.” “It will be a financial and is a moderate critical success.”, he added. “So I believe Marvel will be good through Civil War next summer and hope we don’t tire during stage 3.”
To officially answer the question… No, I don’t think that Ant-Man is too much Marvel. Not yet anyway.
There’s a famous quote that says, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. I believe the numbers speak for themselves and the majority of moviegoers have determined they’re happy with the MCU films that are being put out, and I think they’ll continue to vote with their dollars. Marvel will know when they’ve gone too far because the reviews will be consistently poor and, more importantly, the money will start drying up. Until then, it seems the majority of people still agree that the MCU movies (and superhero movies in general) are a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment. Whew! I was really worried there for a minute…