The name alone is enough to put concern in the heart of even the most loyal of Marvel fans. “Ant-Man” doesn’t exactly inspire images of strength and valor, more like slight inconveniences at picnics and Raid.
Thankfully, what “Ant-Man” lacks in familiarity it more than makes up for in compact action and humor.
What director Peyton Reed has done with this little-known Marvel hero is astounding. This is the smallest story so far in Disney’s B-Team (and C-Team) Marvel Universe, and it’s also one of its best.
While the stakes are high in “Ant-Man,” there aren’t entire cities being lifted into the heavens, and the universe isn’t at stake. In fact, at its heart “Ant-Man” is just about one man and his family…and a whole lot of ants.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), is an ex-con trying to (rather unsuccessfully) stick to the straight and narrow, and live up to his young daughter’s superhero image of him. When his burglary catches the eye of inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man, he’s recruited (somewhat involuntarily) to fill Pym’s shoes. Which is no small task.
His mission, to help Pym destroy the research of his former protegé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Cross has managed to replicate Pym’s shrinking technology, and plans to sell the technology to the highest bidder. A terrifying prospect since when in miniature form, the Ant-Man is essentially a human bullet.
With the help of Pym and his somewhat estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Lang decides to take on the task.
I don’t believe in spoilers so you’ll have to see the movie to find out what happens.
It’s a surprisingly sweet film, with a whole lot of humor, and a compelling hero who fits remarkably well into the same world as the Avengers.
I do not say this lightly, but Paul Rudd might be the best thing to happen to Marvel’s film franchise since Robert Downey Jr. Although, with a hand in writing the screenplay (along with Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, and Adam McKay) , he may actually have done one better than Mr. Downey. It’s easy to imagine Scott Lang keeping pace with Tony Stark’s witty banter. You have to wonder just how much of Mr. Rudd’s lines were actually in the script. There’s a sweetness and humility to Lang that differentiates his character from the millionaire playboy, and makes him a new kind of hero in the Marvel Universe.
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne is another welcome addition. She also has the film’s best and most significant line. When it becomes clear that Hope will be back, and taking on a more active role, she says four simple, but powerful words — “It’s about damn time.” I couldn’t agree more.
“Ant-Man” may have seemed like a long shot, but fits in so well that it feels like it was part of the master Marvel plan the whole time.
…Insider tip — If you’re a fan of the Marvel post-credits clip, your patience will be rewarded.
…just for fun: