‘Ant-Man’ is something of a marvel. It’s troubled production and quirky premise seemed to indicate that the finished film was doomed to fail, both creatively and financially. Yet somehow, step-in director Peyton Reed has managed to craft a lighthearted comedy that is not only one of the best studio films this year but one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe entries ever.

Frankly it shouldn’t come as such a surprise. Paul Rudd is impossible not to like in anything he does and this is especially true of him as Scott Lang, a down-on-his-luck ex-con who is trying to put his days of burgling behind him. Rudd is at least 80% of the reason ‘Ant-Man’ works, which is to his credit since he acts opposite screen legend Michael Douglas as former Ant-Man/Scott’s mentor Hank Pym. Douglas gives a commanding performance with a jaded gravity that only he could pull off, although he also adds a surprising amount of levity to some scenes. Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll round out one of Marvel’s most impeccably cast films to date, and while the latter has to work within the limitations of yet another underwritten villain, he does so with a menacing gusto that elevates Darren Cross to one of the best MCU Phase Two antagonists (not a hard contest but a victory nonetheless). Lilly deserves more scenes as Hank’s daughter, Hope, but her chemistry with Rudd and Douglas makes the more emotional moments touching and believable.

Original director, Edgar Wright’s signature comedic stamp is still present in the structure of the film and, it wouldn’t be surprising to discover, perhaps one or two lines of dialogue. That said, the rewrite on the script by Adam McKay and Paul Rudd certainly didn’t hurt the heist comedy’s potential. In fact, between their, Wright’s and Reed’s influences, ‘Ant-Man’ becomes the second-funniest film in the MCU after, in my opinion, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.

It still feels like a Marvel movie, with all the successes and pitfalls of the Marvel formula, but ‘Ant-Man’ manages to be bigger than it ever deserved to be.

(P.S. Make sure to stay for the credits.)

READ: Daniel’s Review