So I went and saw Ant-Man today. Granted, this was not an unexpected visit to the movie theater. I have been looking forward to this film for a long time. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of the comic. Ant-Man was one of those Marvel characters that I knew about but wasn’t really into as a kid. But given the track record of Marvel Studios, I expected this to be a fun, enjoyable film. I expected this even with the turmoil of losing it’s original director and there were some changes to the script.
At the heart of the film is the main character Scott Lang. Now when you think Ant-Man, you think Hank Pym. And rightfully so, Pym was one of the original Avengers in the comics. And Pym is in the film, but he is much older and retired. In the comics the 2nd Ant-Man was Lang and his journey was different that Pym’s. Lang was a thief (or he would describe a “burglar”). But the reasons he stole in the comics was to get money to pay for medical treatments for his daughter Cassie. He stumbled upon the suit and basically “cleaned up his act” and would become a hero.
I won’t spoil the film but I will share some of my thoughts. The essential origin story for the 2nd Ant-Man is pretty much on par. Lang is a burglar who is just getting out of prison for stealing from a crooked company and playing Robin Hood with the money. He want to clean up his act and make a better way so he can be back in his daughter’s life again. But his skills are needed when Hank Pym needs him to break into his old lab (since he no longer is a part of Pym Tech) to make sure his former protege Darren Cross doesn’t weaponize his work (which he does in the form of Yellowjacket).
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang is great. He is that everyman that is looking for a second chance. And at the heart of this movie is second chances. Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) is looking for a second chance with his daughter Hope (played by Evangeline Lilly). Hank sees helping Scott out as a way to redeem himself from the loss of his wife Janet Van Dyne (aka The Wasp) and the separation that took place with him and Hope.
In a lot of ways, this film has a lot of the same beats as the first Iron Man. It is an origin story of a Marvel character that isn’t essentially an A character but a huge component of The Avengers. You have the scientist and the protege (Pym and Cross). You have the strained relationship between parent and child (Hank & Hope). And you have the hero looking for a second chance.
The style of the film is like a heist film (which essentially that’s the plot device for it) which is different from other Marvel films and that’s a good thing. Some of the best Marvel films have been when it is its own thing. And Ant-Man is it’s own thing. Granted, it’s still connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and there are cameos (including the good old Stan Lee cameo) but it’s very much in the vein of other origin story movies.
As far as Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and technically it is under Phase 2), I would put Ant-Man right up there with Guardians of the Galaxy as my favorites. It had action, it had suspense and it had a lot of good laughable moments. And that’s a good time at the theater when you have that. I hope the film does well because it is these type of movies that would hope Hollywood would make more of in the future.