“Ant-Man” was a lot of fun. It has the right blend of action and humor effortlessly pulled off by its lead actor you’d be amazed as to why no one had thought of casting Paul Rudd in the role ages ago.
But to call it a superhero movie might be inaccurate. From the start, “Ant-Man” knows what it wants to be: a small-scale film devoid of any larger-than-life mythologies that have bogged down previous Marvel movies.
Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a proficient thief fresh out of prison. Michael Douglas, who plays Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man now on his prime, hires Scott to sneak inside a top-notch heavily guarded facility to steal a contraption that bears similarity to his shrinking technology. The facility is owned by the ambitious yet ruthless Darren Cross, who plans to use the tech for evil means. What follows is a thrilling heist that would soon get as personal as possible for Scott.
The world isn’t in dire need of saving in “Ant-Man.” Sure, if Hydra (Marvel’s uber-evil terrorist organization) gets its hands on the yellowjacket technology developed by Darren, the world might be in danger. But Scott is at first unenthusiastic to accept Hank Pym’s offer to break inside the facility, and the only reason he agrees to do so is because he yearns to be a better man for daughter Cassie, pay for child support, and show ex-wife’s new husband Paxton who’s the boss.
If there is an actor who can effectively show a father coming to terms with who he is and striving to be a role model for his family, it’s Rudd. Definitely not a teen sensation anymore, he pulls off a convincing performance that would make us want to root for Scott. Another standout is Michael Peña, who plays Luis, the talkative comic relief, a character you won’t find anywhere else in a Marvel movie. And both characters are why it is so refreshing to watch “Ant-Man.” It doesn’t take itself seriously at times, but when the occasion calls for a sense of urgency, it brings out what is needed.
In the end, “Ant-Man” is more of a heist movie than a superhero movie. It is about breaking in and stealing a technology so powerful. It is also about a man working hard to be a good father, as what is evident in the final fifteen minutes of the film. The only signs it ties up with the large-scale Marvel mythology are mere mentions of names, plus a terrifically shot fight scene between Ant-Man and another Avenger. Scott Lang has powers, indeed, but he uses them not to save the world, but to save himself and those he love. He may have the shrinking technology, which makes him “super,” but the movie only scratches the surface as it shows him barely mastering his newly acquired skills—one scene shows him missing a few throws, thereby resulting in a dog-sized ant and an oversized toy train.
Telling an utterly wonderful story and boasting a charismatic main character, “Ant-Man” might be one of the most standalone “superhero” movies we’ll ever get to see before the dozens of Marvel and DC offerings get released this year and the next. How uplifting to see a film such as this focus only on the story of one man, instead of a large group of superheroes fighting enemies and each other for a healthy dose of screen time.
Myrmecophobics need not watch.