While Marvel comics are populated with some of the most iconic names in super hero history: Spider-man, X-men, and the Incredible Hulk for instance; its movie universe have transformed lesser known heroes like Thor, Iron man and Guardians of the Galaxy into beloved household names. Now one of the smallest and silliest sounding super heroes ever is making his “big” movie debut in what maybe Marvel’s most ambitious and innovative super hero film yet with Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man.” After years of feet dragging and development issues back when Edgar Wright was directing, “Ant-Man” has been in the works since 2003 and is just now FINALLY coming out fully completed. Has the long wait been worth it or is this hero’s concept to silly sounding for even Marvel to sell audiences? Let’s find out as I apply a magnifying glass to “Ant-Man.”
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a master thief; fresh out of prison and also fresh out of cash, job opportunities and chances to make up lost time with his daughter thanks to his life of crime. Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) contacts Scott recruits to help him pull off a heist using a shrinking suit Scott stole. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has weaponized the “Ant-man” suit and Pym needs Scott to work with his estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) to plan the perfect heist to stop Cross, destroy the suit before anyone can put it to evil use. Much like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Ant-Man” sports a tone and focus that is drastically different than any other Marvel movie. Sure, it’s still got costumes, masked villains and super powered beat downs but at its core; this is a heist movie that HAPPENS to have super hero elements in it.
This is a different kind of a “hero”, one who spent most of his life as a criminal and spends most of the movie planning robberies than saving lives or battling the forces of evil. Even the choice of Rudd as the lead is different, he is not the muscle bound hero type Marvel characters/actors have been associated with; Rudd is a funny man first and foremost. Rudd proves he can not only play a super hero he can play a super hero well, he’s a perfect fit for this role and handles every physical and emotional demanding challenge with expert ease. The film develops its characters every step of the way; making them a priority rather than rushing Rudd into duking it out in a micro sized battle royal with Stoll (though when they do battle it out; the use of shrink suits and growth rays provide truly spellbinding visuals and action sequences.)
Douglas as Pym was just perfect casting; he’s a true mentor, father figure, fallen hero and compelling human being all rolled into one, his relationship with Rudd is one of the film’s most beautifully handled writing aspects. Special effects are an expected staple of all super hero films but “Ant-Man” uses them on a completely different level…literally and it’s a welcomed change of scenery. We see ants, bath tubs, toy trains and people turn into giant monuments of visual flare; truly making you feel part of this “shrinking” world and even pulling off some brilliant twists with growing certain “things” large by the end of the film. This is just a solid, engrossing movie that not only sells it’s absurd concept amazingly well, it works in enough Marvel movie references/connections with the perfect application and it all pays off impressively well.
This film is all about lowering the scope of the super hero genre but making the heart and strength of the characters and story feel just as high and powerful as the last Marvel movie. Everything about “Ant-Man” shouldn’t have worked as well as it did: Paul Rudd as a hero, a super hero heist movie, a hero CALLED Ant-Man, but it did work, it REALLY did work. This isn’t just one of Marvel’s best movies so far, this is one of the YEAR’S best films so far. “Ant-Man” is bigger, better and bolder than your most optimistic expectations; Marvel proves once again that they will always have the magic movie touch when it comes to adapting comic book heroes.