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This past weekend, the 12th film in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe (MCU) arrived in theaters, keeping the perfect record intact by securing a 12th consecutive #1 spot at the box office. While MARVEL's ANT-MAN came in just shy of its projected $60M mark in the U.S., scoring the top spot was no easy feat for a film based on an obscure character that was even more "out there" than last year's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Now, as Phase Two of the MCU comes to a close and Phase 3 begins, I'm sharing some words from a conversation with ANT-MAN Director Peyton Reed and MARVEL Studios head Kevin Feige - a conversation about the future of the MCU, women in that universe, and the genesis of ANT-MAN. If you haven't seen ANT-MAN and wish to remain spoiler-free, now's your chance to stop reading because I'm about to sting you in the next paragraph. Here we go...

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With MARVEL's ANT-MAN in theaters now, your favorite retailers are stocking up on some pretty cool merch featuring a superhero that until now, few were actually familiar with. Being the first true "family" film in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe, there's a lot of play value (and potential for learning) here. As with most summer movies (and superhero movies in general), the amount of items hitting the streets for ANT-MAN is massive, but I'm presenting a hand-picked collection of 15 of the coolest toys - a rundown offered up in no particular order. 

MARVEL's ANT-MAN may have just hit theater screens today, but thanks to a just-revealed box set, it is confirmed that Scott Lang and the #Antourage will definitely be home for the holidays. This Fall (date TBA), the MARVEL Cinematic Universe: Phase 2 Collection will come to Amazon as an exclusive 13-disc boxed set, with all six films from the Phase 2 MARVEL lineup packed inside a replica Power Gem. There will also be a "Top Secret Bonus Disc," exclusive additional bonus memorabilia and more packed into the $250 companion to the 2012 MARVEL Cinematic Universe: Phase 1 release. Here's what you'll get...

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Last month, prior to spending some time with the cast and filmmakers behind MARVEL's ANT-MAN at Walt Disney Studios, I had the opportunity to attend the very first press screening of the film at an AMC in Burbank. It's always best to see the finished product before delving into interview territory for those involved, but that can be a tricky situation - depending on the film itself. Fortunately, I exited ANT-MAN with a smile on my face, and a ton of thoughts racing through my head as I worked to digest the multi-layered approach to a comic book character that most mainstream audiences are likely unfamiliar with. MARVEL's ANT-MAN scores big by "going small" - the first true "family" film in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe (MCU).

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If you've been following my coverage on MARVEL's ANT-MAN over the past couple of weeks, then you already know that I had an action figure companion accompanying me on my trip to Los Angeles. While my MARVEL Legends Infinite Series Ant-Man was Hasbro's articulated version of Paul Rudd's Scott Lang, they haven't done a version of Corey Stoll's Darren Cross/Yellowjacket just yet - sans the tiny, half-inch figure that comes packed alongside and equally-small Ant-Man... inside the package with the bigger Ant-Man. It was pure luck that I happened to find the Funko Pop! Vinyl version of Yellowjacket the night before I was set to meet with actor Corey Stoll, a lucky score at a Hot Topic store on Universal CityWalk. The next morning, it was hard to tell who was more excited about the figure - me, or Stoll.

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After witnessing the first-ever press screening of MARVEL's ANT-MAN in Burbank last month, I wandered out onto Universal CityWalk while collecting my thoughts and trying to fully comprehend the multitude of elements at play within the 12th entry into the ever-expanding MARVEL Cinematic Universe. Those who've seen the trailers and clips or have really delved into the coverage here on this site or others, have seen bits and pieces already, but when I say that ANT-MAN is a superhero movie like no other - I truly mean it. There's the action you'd expect; a comedic side carrying the torch first lit in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY; stories of family drama with father and child; and then there's this whole "heist film" thing happening... and for me, that's the real hook. With 2001's OCEAN'S ELEVEN remake being one of my favorite films (and I worked for one day on its 2004 sequel), the fact that a MARVEL film brought some of that stylish humor into the mix is an unexpected treat - one made perfect by the crew assembled by Paul Rudd's Scott Lang/Ant-Man. Enter the "Antourage": The Getaway - Dave (T.I.), The Hacker - Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and The Inside Man - Luis (Michael Pena).

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