I believe I established this already: going to see Ant-Man in theaters this weekend is/was the ultimate proof of the faith and trust I place in Marvel.
I am happy to report, my faith has been rewarded!
All of my concerns were for nothing! 🙂 Marvel has delivered yet another high-quality theatrical feature. In brief overview: the acting, the superpowers, the plot, the themes, the characters, the effects, everything was very well done!
The story primarily follows two men, Hank Pym and Scott Lang. The former is a much-accomplished scientist and former superhero who once worked with SHIELD before starting his own tech research company. The latter is a clever thief, albeit one much like Robin Hood, down on his luck, trying to reform and do right by his seven-year-old daughter, yet he can’t seem to do anything right. These two men seem to come from different worlds, yet they’re kindred spirits. Both are clever, intelligent men who have tried to do right and made terrible mistakes. Both know the weight of regret, of losing the people most important to them. And both are men fighting to protect their daughters.
As one of them says (paraphrasing), “We’re not saving our world… we’re saving their world.”
A lot of superhero films, including Marvel’s, have been getting bigger and louder in the action and danger and such, but Marvel has also proven capable of taking things back down a notch. Daredevil stands as a particular example of that, but Ant-Man is another. Tony Stark and the other Avengers have often been fighting to stop the mess that comes out of the opened can of worms, but Hank, Scott, and Hank’s daughter, Hope, are all fighting to just keep the can closed. They’re nipping chaos and murder in the bud.
The miniaturized hero is ending the problem while it’s still small. Appropriate, no?
Opposing the heroes is a villain who is clearly unstable. Darren Cross, the mastermind behind the Ant-Man-inspired Yellowjacket suit, may never have been particularly empathetic towards his fellow man and other creatures, but exposure to the experimental shrinking particles has clearly sent him fully round the bend. He is quickly consumed by obsessions, experiments on lambs instead of rats, and murders people easily. In short: he’s a mad scientist who has gone mad. Which is terrifying, to see a man who retains cunning intelligence while having lost all rationality, and thrilling to see done well.
Loki is definitely the best villain yet in the MCU, but Darren Cross the Yellow Jacket is probably among my personal top five now. 🙂
In another contrast between hero and villain, Yellowjacket has his suit outfitted with disintegrating weapons, while Ant-Man is mostly armed with his cleverness. He can shrink and grow, and he has the ability to make other things do so too with an Ant-Man version of Batarangs, and he can apparently propel his smaller self with the same strength he has when full-grown, but he doesn’t have any real weaponry. However, Hank Pym discovered not only how to shrink and grow, but also how to command ants with a device that turns his thoughts into sound waves that stimulate their sensory organs and tell them to do whatever he wants. (I think that’s how it worked…)
I did not think much of that ability at all, until I saw this movie. As they say: it’s not what you have, but how you use it! This little ability proved far more potent than I wagered, and by the use of the hero’s wits, which is another difference between the hammer-swinging of Thor and the other Avengers. Of course, these ants can present a physical danger to people, which makes me see this version of Ant-Man as both a clever infiltrator and as a dangerous lord within the heart of his own domain. But that is like using the ants as a club instead of a scalpel, and these ants are much more adaptable and precise than that.
ADD moment: Are there really any animals it would truly be useless to communicate with? Snails and slugs, maybe?
On a completely different note, this was a hilarious movie. Marvel is pretty good at that sort of thing, as they understand that laughter is a good, necessary thing for the soul, especially when you’re delving into serious matters. (I’m looking at you, DC and Warner. Why so serious?) Granted, they didn’t do the whole Ant-Man self-consciousness about his name that the trailers indicated, but that’s a small thing. Scott Lang’s antics, and those of his friends, were great at keeping the mood light and fun. And I note that one of the funniest people in the movie took a moment to go out of his way and save the life of an innocent bystander, in extreme contrast to the villain. That is just a perfect small example of storytelling craftsmanship, ya know? It’s the little things that matter! 🙂
On which note, and skating around spoilers as much as possible, I will say there is a moment where the hero is trapped in darkness, both literal and symbolic, and he is grasping in clumsy hope for the light of his last chance. It’s obvious, of course, but it’s a sweet moment and I loved it.
And that’s basically it: I loved this movie!
It’s not quite perfect, as a few things do get a little choppy, particularly with how fast Yellow Jacket finds and threatens the younger Ant-Man’s daughter, and with how there are always ants in exactly the right spot for the hero to command, but those are errors I can pretty much forgive.
Ant-Man easily holds its own among the other Marvel movies, though we can all debate about ranking all of these movies later, or in the comments. 😉
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
It really is unfortunate that the marketing department failed to excite people for Ant-Man the way they did for Guardians of the Galaxy. Only $58 million on opening weekend? Such a shame! But this movie is really good, and really funny, and really gripping! So I highly recommend going to see it! 🙂
Oh, and they established that Ant-Man can hold his own with the Avengers, either as a friend or a foe, yet he’s outside their little box, which is apparently going to be very important in next year’s Captain America: Civil War. I am so looking forward to that, and I have no worries about Ant-Man being able to contribute and hold his own! 😀
So, I had doubts about Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and as I loved each of them, I became more and more of a Marvel fan-boy. But now… now… I am converted! Marvel has just earned a virtually limitless line of credit with me, and I shall see everything they produce! Yes, they could manage to ruin it someday, but that day is not today!
After Fox’s X2, It took four or five bad X-Men movies for me to stop following that franchise, and I was brought back in soon enough with Days of Future Past. Based on my experience with Ant-Man, Marvel will have to produce an entire phase of bad movies (which would be something like ten of them in a row) to turn me off now!
Congratulations, Marvel, you have a new zealot!
As a friend of mine puts it: “In Marvel we trust!” 🙂