Despite a troubled development history, Marvel’s Ant-Man manages to not only meet expectations, but exceed them and become one of the best super hero movies around.
Ant-Man revolves its plot around burglar Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, who is having trouble getting back on his feet after getting out of prison. He can’t find a job, his divorced wife won’t let him see his daughter, and he is forced to room with his former gang of fellow thieves that keep pushing him to take up stealing once more. They finally convince him to do so, but rather than find money or jewels, Scott discovers the Ant-Man suit, which allows its wearer to shrink and grow in size as well as command an army of ants.
Scott is soon contacted by the suit’s creator Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, who reveals he knows more about Scott than believed and wants him to help steal the Yellow Jacket, a sort of military grade Ant-Man suit, being developed by Pym’s former protégé Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll. Pym’s estranged daughter Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly, helps to train Scott in not only combat, but also how to control the suit and the ants that come with it.
While Ant-Man is set up as a rather typical superhero movie, it executes the plot very well. All the characters are very likable and well-acted, with Michael Douglas being the show stealer. Every time Douglas’s Pym was on screen, he commanded the attention of the audience, whether being a jaded old man who is bitter at the world or being the mentor Scott needs to get his life back together. Corey Stoll also deserves extra mention as villain Darren Cross, who might just become one of my favorite super villains in the Marvel films. He was very threatening and also seemed to be slightly off kilter from normalcy. Furthermore, Cross is always treated as a big deal and never joked about or made fun of.
One area where Ant-Man really improves over other Marvel movies is in the humor. Rather than having the characters trade sarcastic quips and snarky remarks, the humor comes from a more visual aspect. The camera zooms in as Ant-Man throws massive objects at Yellow Jacket, only to then zoom out to show two microscopic men throwing toy blocks at each other. This not only gives the audience several laughs, but also keeps the actual fight scenes dramatic and tense. The characters entirely take the action seriously and it seems very intense until you take a step back and realize how funny it looks watching a two inch tall man beat up armed security guards.
Ant-Man further proves that the mixing of genres for superhero movies is a very good idea that elevates them above the competition. While Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a super hero spy thriller and The Guardians of the Galaxy mixed super heroes with space opera, Ant-Man shows how a heist movie would be done with a guy who can shrink so small that he can run throw key holes in doors. Indeed, the final heist in the movie feels like a less serious but much more action packed Ocean’s Eleven, with extremely creative use of the many ants Scott is able to control.
In a sea of disappointing summer blockbusters like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World, Ant-Man sets itself head and shoulders above the competition, a perfect mix of humor and action. My only complaint are certain character development points being slightly rushed, but this barely takes away from the overall roller coaster ride that is Ant-Man.