An Irrational Love of Ant-Man
(Probably Contains Spoilers)
I have a thing about obscure characters, I think. I’m not entirely sure why I latch on to the ones that I do, but they tend to be little known or not well liked by the general populous. In DC it’s Aquaman, the Martian Man Hunter and the Red Tornado. And the Flash… I think my husband is rubbing off on me. In Marvel, though, my big favorite is still Captain America, naturally, but Ant-man is a close second. So when I learned they were making a movie about him, I was super excited. Was I disappointed? The answer would be no, but before we talk about that, lets start from the beginning.
I first encountered Ant-man in the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon which was sadly short lived. Dr. Hank Pym was portrayed as a quirky, work absorbed scientist who was easily excited by new discoveries, even small ones. I’ll admit, I still haven’t read as much Ant-man as I would have liked since then, but I easily latched onto the cartoon version of Hank Pym. He’s the super science-y kind of guy that I like, a little flighty and a little oblivious to the world around him; that sort of lovable, super smart dummy. I realize in the comics the title has gotten passed around and he’s not always a great guy… in fact, almost always he’s a jerk of one sort or another, but that then brings us to Scott Lang.
Scott Lang also appeared in the cartoon, taking up the Ant-man mantle as a thief who just wants to save his daughter from a rare heart condition. This is what I like about Scott Lang as a character: he’s got big ideas, he’s smart, but he’s kind of a screw up. His big redeeming quality is his love for his daughter and his willingness to do anything to save her. He wants more than anything to be the kind of dad she deserves, he just doesn’t always know how. I’ve read part of his most recent series and enjoyed it immensely, but we’re not buying individual comics anymore so I have to wait for Marvel Unlimited to pick it up.
This brings us to the movie, now doesn’t it? I know a few people who were super disappointed when Edgar Wright left the project, my husband included. He has friends who lost all interest in it because of the switch and I’m not sure if they’ve seen it or not, but they should, because it’s awesome. I’m not a cinema snob of any kind, I can’t point to a movie and say “oh yes, I can see this director’s influence” or what have you as some can, but Edgar Wright’s fingerprints are all over the movie, as my husband very happily pointed out after leaving the theater. But the writer/director influence aside, Ant-man is actually a very well-done Marvel movie.
Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, is perfectly portrayed. He knows what’s right, and he knows what he’s good at and he can’t get them to match up, even though he’s trying. He’s witty and over-confident, even when he’s clearly in over his head. I appreciate him learning to use the suit and bonding with the ants. He’s frustrated and scared but he keeps trying anyway, because he knows how important it is. He’s not in it to save the world, he just wants to be the hero his daughter thinks he is. Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym, while not quite the same character I attached myself to in the cartoon, is also very well done. He’s old, and he’s spent more of his life in a lab than anywhere else and it’s taken it’s toll. He knows he’s screwed up and he’s pushing Scott to be a better man than he was. He’s a bit of a jerk, sure, and he doesn’t always get the people around him, but he’s trying. His story parallels Scott’s so well as he tries to make up for being a crappy father and a poor mentor.
Hope is a lovely, strong female character for the movie, redeeming Evangeline Lilly after her unfortunate role in the Hobbit movies. She knows what she wants, she’s playing the role she needs to in the lab and doing her best to reconnect with a father who’s been pushing her away since she was seven. She struggles between her resentment for him and her desire for his attention and approval. She can see what is most important to him and wants desperately to be his successor in the Ant-man suit to show him she can do it, that she’s worthy of it. However, she’s not so desperate that she’s willing to compromise herself. She’ll push as hard as she can to get his attention, but she’s not willing to follow blindly with his crazy plans.
She works with the villain, Dr. Darrin Cross who takes on the role Hank Pym actually plays in the comics. The Yellow Jacket is the suit Dr. Pym takes up as the Pym particles are messing with his brain and driving him crazy. In the movie, Darrin Cross plays that part as the protégé gone wrong, twisted by the Pym particles and driven by his own desperate need for Pym’s approval. He’s as much a creation of Pym as the suit itself and he plays it so well. He’s not corrupted by power or hungry for revenge, he just wants to prove himself to Pym, that he’s just as good, maybe better, than his teacher was who pushed him away. He creates this wonderful tension as he wonders around the movie while the plot is being hidden from him. Always playing this almost likable guy, if only he weren’t a mad scientist trying to sell a super weapon. He’s the kind of villain you kind of want to hug and tell him it’ll be okay, except you know he’d zap you with a shrink ray and turn you into a pile of goop if you did.
I don’t want to give away too much, since I do want all of you to go see the movie. Mostly I’ll just say that it was a very fun movie. They tie in the greater Marvel universe well and there’s a super fun cameo by a certain Avenger, who I will not name. You’ll have to go watch it for yourself to see him. It’s a good time, though, the pacing is well done, there’s a good balance of action and character development, the side characters are quirky and a little bumbling, but not overly incompetent, which I appreciate. There are some really cool action scenes and some really funny moments too. Overall, I really enjoyed it. My husband rates it above Avenger’s 2 but just under Guardians of the Galaxy, which is pretty high praise from a man going in with no expectations.
Long story short, we really liked it. I love Ant-man and I’m glad that he’s finally joined the Marvel movie universe. If you haven’t seen it, and you’re into super hero movies, or heist movies for that matter, you should totally go see Ant-man.