A wondrous, everyman’s comic hero origin story.
At first, I found the 2015 MCU film ‘Ant-Man‘ underwhelming in virtually all things “Marvel”. The hero lacked notable powers, the bad guy was two-dimensional, offbeat humor undermined the drama, and the story felt under-cooked.
Thankfully, I gave this flick another shot. Much of what I saw as weaknesses are actually subtle strengths. I had missed the point of the whole thing: the idea that anyone can be a superhero if they’ve got the will, do the work, and are willing to make sacrifices in protecting those they care about most.
Just released from prison for committing a “Robin Hood” styled high-tech
robbery burglary, all Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) wants is to build a relationship with his young daughter Cassie (a delightful Abby Ryder Fortson).
But, unable to find work as an ex-con Scott turns to his prison cellmate Luis (Michael Peña, in another scene stealing performance) for a “quicker” solution. Leading Scott haphazardly to scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who is having his own crisis and now needs Scott’s “help”.
Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and his protege Darren Cross (a way OTT Corey Stoll) have stolen Pym’s company. And Cross, in typical nemesis fashion, has evil plans afoot for Pym’s not-necessarily so secret shrinking science. So Pym turns master thief Lang into the micro-sized Ant-Man in order to “steal some stuff” and save the world.
Working off a lively script (retooled from Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish’s original) “replacement” director Peyton Reed does a commendable job making this cliche filled, play it safe heist/comic book film into something surprisingly good. Moments of Wright/Cornish quirkiness and Rudd’s dry wit ensure there’s plenty of surprise while the story is simple enough to engage even comic novices.
A slow exposition by way of origin-story first half leads into an exciting back-half payoff and one crazy cool big (make that small) finale that packs more wallop in its ten minutes than that hour-long cluster at the end of ‘Avengers 2’.
‘Ant-Man‘ shows us that real people are also quite capable at fighting these impossible fights. It’s courage, determination, loyalty, and heart that define a hero, superpowers or not. By focusing on characters and relationships this film, while not as Marvelous as others in the MCU, is just as entertaining and significantly more heartfelt.