Following the growing stature of each of the Marvel movies since Captain America: Winter Soldier, followed by Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Marvel decided to pull a fast one and instead opted for the “less is more” way of thinking with their latest release, Ant-Man, reminding us that dynamite does indeed come in small packages.
The movie is partly an origin story as in the Marvel Universe there had already been one previous Ant-Man, but the story isn’t about him, instead it is about his successor, a brilliant industrial burglar named Scott Lang, played by the affable Paul Rudd. With him this movie takes a decidedly lighter tone, hearkening back to one of Marvel’s biggest summer successes, Guardians Of The Galaxy. And much like the role of Peter Quill, Rudd’s Scott Lang is, deep down inside, a good man. He is quite flawed, but there is a good person inside because there isn’t anything that he wouldn’t do for his daughter. This is where Marvel has shown considerable success with many of their movie properties. Almost all of their heroes, with perhaps the exception of Steve Rogers, have personality flaws, and yet it is their inherent goodness inside which helps them to conquer those shortcomings. That is where a hero is made, and given that these heroes have either great powers or unusual skill sets, the fact that they can overcome their flaws and take responsibility of their powers or skills most definitely puts them in the superhero camp. Scott Lang clearly has his flaws that undoubtedly set him on the wrong path, which lands him in jail when we first meet him, and yet it is the love he has for his daughter, Cassie, that serves as his moral compass. Along the way he starts to recognize that goodness with himself, and while the love for his daughter is still there, it’s that new source of goodness that compels him to be the hero that the world needs.
However this is not entirely a serious movie. The presence of Rudd as Scott proves that as writers Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd himself write the character of Scott which maximizes on Rudd’s acting strengths, and since this movie’s star is a “light” character, the overall tone of the movie is light.
If there is a flaw in this movie I could only point it to one thing, and that is the editing. Marvel movies have been growing in length so it was with great wisdom that the studio chose to make this just shy of 2 hours long. This means a lot of ground needed to be covered in following Scott and his journey into truly becoming the Ant-Man. This meant that many scenes felt “rushed” in the way they were edited together thereby disrupting any good flow in watching the movie. This sort of rushed story telling is very apparent until about the halfway mark of the film when it finally settles down and tells a very linear story with a very good flow. It is here that the movie also becomes a thrill ride, keeping movie watchers on the edge of their seats. The story also telegraphs some very key moments in the movie, but those moments are told so well that the emotional impact is still delivered with full force.
The other primary players in the movie are very well chosen. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man is played with the authoritative statesman characteristic that only Michael Douglas can bring. He too shows a flawed, vulnerability to his character, and yet even he rises to the occasion when circumstances demand. Pym’s daughter, Hope, is played by Evangeline Lilly who manages to bring both a woman who has incredible strength of character, and yet her own vulnerability where her father is concerned. Of course this wouldn’t be a superhero movie if there weren’t a threat, and this one takes the form of Corey Stoll playing Darren Cross, aka Yellowjacket. The cast is rounded out by a trio of “wombats” (as referred to by Hank Pym), and they are Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, and T.I. (that is his professional name). While there are plenty of laughs all throughout the movie, some of the best gags are delivered by these three individuals, and yet they never come across as too broad. The movie also delivers with some surprise cameos. John Slattery, who played elder Howard Stark in Iron Man 2, returns alongside Agent Carter’s Haley Atwell, both as leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D., which beautifully serves to cement their roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We also get a good scene with Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka Falcon that helps to set up two other cameos that occur at the very end of the credits.
The movie is a total delight to watch, and is so far the most fun I’ve had with a new movie in all of 2015. It serves as an excellent standalone movie, with only a few references to other Marvel properties. Those mentions, while great for devoted Marvel fans, don’t get in the way of a person’s ability to enjoy this movie and have fun with it on its own. And yet, this movie also helps to build and further develop the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it is clear that events that occurred in this movie will also shape the direction of future movies. However, the biggest test to any film is its rewatchability and I can easily say that this is a movie I will happily see again and again.