I’ve been hyped up for Ant-Man ever since the first trailers came out, and I watched it on release day. Ant-Man is probably the best Marvel movie I’ve seen, though it’s been a long while since I watched some of the other movies. I think it’s better than Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, and those were my previous favorites. To non-Marvel fans that might not mean anything, but believe me, even on its own this movie is awesome. You don’t have to be a fan of Marvel – hell, you don’t even have to like superhero movies at all, and I still believe that you will absolutely love Ant-Man.
Ant-Man’s story involves a much smaller scale than other recent superhero movies, both in the physical world it takes place in and in the stakes involved. While their mission still involves saving the world from a risky technology that could bring chaos, everything is grounded by a much more simple desire. The emotional core of the movie, in the midst of all the fancy sci-fi superpowers and grand heists, is about fathers who simply wish to right things with their daughters. Who wouldn’t understand that? Anyone can relate – I don’t have any children yet, but I imagine everyone who does will at some point feel like they let their children down somehow and want to make up for it. And I’m sure everyone can recall moments where one or both of their parents were detached, emotionally or physically, from their lives. In turn we all feel a little guilty for the wrongs we did to our parents. Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Ant-Man embraces us and says, it’s okay. There will be second chances. And when a chance comes, grasp it in your hands and maybe, just maybe, everything will be right again.
Scott Lang, the main character, feels more real than most superhero stars do. He’s not some super intelligent or super strong being who has trouble comprehending the rest of us mortals. He’s not someone who’s brooding over revenge. He’s just a father, a father who couldn’t even see his daughter because of all the mistakes he made as a thief – oh sorry, I’m so so sorry, I meant burglar. He’s offered a chance to redeem himself with a mission to save the world, but amidst that scale he just wants to keep his daughter’s world safe. It’s for her.
I don’t keep track of movies so I don’t know what other roles Paul Rudd had, but he really made Scott Lang an incredibly charming and funny character. He’s so lovable.
The other main characters, Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym, are similarly well fleshed out. Here the strain between the daughter and her father is always boiling beneath the surface, and you can feel that sense of anger mixed in with love. Unless you came from a ridiculously perfect family of some sort, and if you say you did I call bullshit, you will feel a big sense of familiarity with the struggles that this pair faces.
My one small complaint with the movie was that the villain didn’t feel quite as fleshed out as the other characters, but that isn’t to say that he falls completely flat. He too has a lot of mixed feelings towards his mentor Hank Pym, and the movie hinted that his relationship was almost like a father figure. Which again falls into the theme of the pitfalls of parenthood.
And as a testament to Ant-Man’s ability to pull on your heartstrings, I was sad when an ant died. An ant. HOW OFTEN DOES A MOVIE MAKE YOU FEEL FOR A FUCKING ANT?
As a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I also appreciated how the movie justified having it be about Ant-Man and not calling in the rest of the Avengers. In other post-Avengers stand-alone movies like Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I always wondered why Tony Stark didn’t call the Avengers to help take down the Mandarin (or why he didn’t activate the bloody House Party Protocol in the first place), or why didn’t Captain America call the Avengers to take down Hydra hiding in SHIELD – even if they can’t trust anyone inside SHIELD, he still has tight bonds with the rest of the Avengers team.
In Ant-Man, they didn’t want to risk their technology falling into the hands of SHIELD – which was proven to be infiltrated by Hydra – or Tony Stark, who has shown repeatedly that every goddamn thing he touches comes back to bite him in the ass. Like a certain apocalyptic AI that went berserk and tried to literally wipe out all humans. It’s a trivial bit of detail on its own but considering Stark’s characterization and PTSD across the Iron Man movies, as well as his actions in Age of Ultron, it’s a big deal when tying it in to the rest of the MCU. It reinforces the tensions forming between the Avengers themselves and leads up to Captain America: Civil Wok.
So yeah, drop whatever you’re doing and go watch Ant-Man. It will wok your world. And when my future daughter grows up, I’m sure as hell gonna stuff her in a Gundam.