We didn’t know what to expect when it came to Ant Man. Marvel has had a pretty good run up to this point, where even the worst of its movies weren’t exactly awful. Ant Man isn’t a superhero that jumps to mind when you think of those who deserve their own film (we’re looking at you Black Widow). Yet, Ant Man was one of the original Avengers, so it kind of made sense that Marvel wanted to adapt him, right? Or is that a stretch?
The thing is, Ant Man wasn’t awful, it was actually surprisingly a lot of fun.
Scott Lang has just been released from prison and wants nothing more than to participate in his young daughter’s life. His ex wife and her new fiance fearing that Lang will relapse into a life of crime inform him that he’ll need to prove himself to be a good stable person before he can be a father. Lang, attempts to walk the straight and narrow but after having a few bad experiences and losing a job, he gets dragged into one last heist. As you can guess the heist doesn’t go well and Lang realizes he’s been set up. What follows is Lang being thrust onto the hero’s path and therefore a way to prove himself to his family and himself.
It would have been very easy for Ant Man to fail. The story is pretty standard hero journey. Unlike the previous Marvel films this isn’t just a super hero origin story, it’s a heist film. The change of genre adds a breath of fresh air into the world of superheroes. The script is pretty predicable at times, but it also has it’s moments. It’s the performances of the actors that saves everything. You can’t help but feel for Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. Lang at his center is a good guy, he wants to do the right thing, but sometimes doing the right thing takes you down some shady paths.
Lang is given an entourage of quirky side characters to keep him company. Michael Peña’s Luis steals the show as Luis, Lang’s best friend. He has the habit of telling stories (serving as exposition dumps) and going into way too much detail. Through his delivery and clever editing these sequences become the best parts of the film.
Michael Douglas also gives a strong performance as Hank Pym. Pym serves as both a father figure and quest giver to Lang. He’s a no nonsense grumpy old man who wants to do right but also protect his daughter. Most importantly he has wicked chemistry with Lang. Every scene between the two of them is a lot of fun to watch. Also it led to the best movie promo I have ever seen. Ever.
Marvel has a hate love relationship with its villains. When the films aren’t cashing in on the fan favourite Loki, they tend to fall back on a very specific archetype: the bastard in the suit. Ant Man is no exception. Our main antagonist is Darren Cross played by Corey Stoll. Yup, you guessed it Eph from The Strain. Stoll has a talent for playing loathsome characters, but Cross comes off as flat. He’s evil because he has abandonment issues caused by his mentor shutting him out. Also he wants to make “technology” to sell to the highest bidder (*cough* HYDRA *cough*) because he’s greedy. He’s not nuanced in any way. The viewer knows this story from the moment he appears on screen. Cross is there to fill in a role and doesn’t add anything exciting to the story. Even his relationship with Hope Pym feels forced. It comes out very early in the narrative that she’s bluffing to get close to him so she and her father can foil him. Yet I never feel like Hope is in any danger from him.
The film uses the suit’s powers in fun and clever ways. Going into the film I couldn’t see the use of shrinking down into a fraction of one’s size. It seemed impractical. Ant Man’s constant changes in size helped create some of the most visually interesting fight sequences I’ve seen in a while. Ant Man and Yellow Jacket zip around changing sizes to throw punches and dodge one another. The size changes were also played for laughs. In their climactic fight at the end of the film, the audience watched Ant Man and Yellow Jacket locked in intense combat. Yellow Jacket is firing laser beams at Ant Man who barely dodges them. The camera cuts away reminding the audience that the fight is taking place in a little girl’s bedroom and just how tiny everything actually is. It was clever and funny and fit in with the light hearted nature of the film.
Ant Man is a return to the tone of the first Iron Man movie. The story was fun, the characters were likeable and the sense of humour was spot on. I’m really excited to see Ant Man interacting with the rest of the Avengers in Civil War next summer. Given his relationship with Falcon… well we’ll just have to wait and see.
So if you decided to skip Ant Man because “Ant Man” I suggest you go back and give this movie a second chance. It’s an entertaining entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And don’t forget: