After the fun but messy spectacle of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” I was pretty ambivalent going into “Ant-Man.” I knew very little about the character save what I picked up from watching episodes of the Avengers cartoon and reading the odd comic book issue here and there. I never would have guessed that “Ant-Man” would become one of my favorite MCU films: a fun, charming heist comedy featuring a superhero no larger than a thumbtack.
“Ant-Man” is a great example of counter-programming. While “Avengers: Age of Ultron” promised dozens of characters duking it out in lengthy and costly action scenes, “Ant-Man” had a laser-like focus. The film seamlessly introduces a bevy of new characters while also expanding the history of the MCU. “Ant-Man” does a wonderful job of making me believe that these character exist in the real world even when this world is populated by Norse Gods and Super Soldiers. While Scott Lang (Pauk Rudd) starts out as an everyman, by the film’s end we come to believe that he’s a hero with a unique skill set capable of joining the Avengers.
It’s fair to say that “Ant-Man” wouldn’t be such a fun movie without the magnificent script by Edgar Wright, Adam McKay, Joe Cornish and Paul Rudd. The film is laced with humor from start to finish and the heist plot totally fits in with the titular superhero. “Ant-Man” feels different enough from the other MCU films yet still has that bubbly action-comedy approach so many of the Marvel movies boast. It is a self-contained and personal story about fathers and daughters and how those relationships can help people become better human beings.
The cast really makes the film shine. Paul Rudd is compelling as Scott Lang, who is trying to make the best of a bad situation and becomes an integral part in Hank Pym’s machinations. Michael Douglas turns in a great performance as Hank Pym, a reclusive genius ex-superhero with a cynical edge, who is at odds with his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily). Michael Peña steals the show as Lang’s accomplice in many a caper with his cartoonish grin and fast-talking manner. One knock against the film is that the antagonist, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is really bland. He’s essentially a carbon-copy of the Iron Monger character from the first “Iron Man”.
Needless to say, “Ant-Man” left me pleasantly surprised. I was unsure about the future of Marvel superhero movies after “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left me a little cold. However, “Ant-Man” dispelled the fears I had. Any studio that can deliver a deeply flawed but somewhat enjoyable CG actionfest, then turn around and release an upbeat, comedic heist film, knows what they’re doing.
It’s fun to see the little guy get his time in the spotlight.