Ant-Man was an odd one, counted as a sort of “epilogue” to Phase 2 of the MCU it pretty much stands alone (with the exception of one scene) as a fun sci-fi heist movie. I had no expectations going into it, especially as it went through several rewrites and directors, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a genuinely fun film. Does it still hold up now? Let’s take a look!
Forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym recruits the talents of Scott Lang, a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Ant-Man gets some exercise while in the bath. The man never switches off!
Ant-Man, at its heart, is a heist movie with a sci-fi twist and an extremely likeable protagonist. A good combination really! Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is the father of a young daughter who ended up going to prison when he pulled off a seemingly impossible heist at his place of work and exposed the corporation’s greed. When he was finally released he finds himself unable to see his daughter, his old partner now living with a cop and his old friends wanting to pull him into “one more job”. Eventually he agrees to rip off the home of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) but finds only an old suit… which he then tries on for the hell of it and finds himself shrank down to the size of an ant and a voice in the helmet guiding him through the experience. Turns out Hank was a former high-ranking member of the government and his shrinking “Pym Particles” were wanted by various groups (including SHIELD) but he refused them access to his research out of fear of misuse. Now his old protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is close to mastering the tech for himself and he needs someone to steal that technology so it too doesn’t get misused and Pym has chosen Scott for the role, his breaking into his house being an “audition”.
This angers Hank’s daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) who rightfully believes she knows how to use the suit, as well as the ant-controlling mind technology, better than this random guy. It’s soon revealed Hope’s mum and Hank’s wife Janet was lost in the “Quantum Realm” while she was acting as a hero alongside Pym in the 60s, using the latter using the name “Ant-Man” and both using matching suits, and he simply doesn’t want to put his daughter in the same kind of danger. It’s all a good set up for a very odd training sequence and an even odder heist that involves shrinking, flying ants and other things. At this point I’d like to mention Lang’s “Crew”, Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (Tip Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). Luis is a hyper-active Hispanic gentleman who has some of the better lines, not to mention scenes where he’s describing past events in his own vocal way and the people in the flashbacks are mouthing it along in the same speech pattern… kind of hard to explain in writing, but it does put a very large and genuine smile on my face every time. The other two are more standard (sarcastic Black guy, stoic Russian guy) but they work well with the rest of them.
Scott’s “crew” … well, I don’t know why I put quote marks there, they are a crew, even if they’re not the most intelligent lot…
Anyway, the heist goes wrong when Cross reveals his own shrinking suit dubbed “Yellowjacket” and soon targets Scott’s daughter, leading to a weird and wonderful final battle involving fighting while shrank and tiny objects being enlarged… it’s a really fun time. Scott wins, but only by slipping into the Quantum Realm, though he manages to escape giving Hank and Hope… erm, well, hope that they could rescue Janet. Scott hugs his daughter and we get a nice happy ending, including Hank showing Hope a new Wasp suit designed for her… It’s a really fun film, though not without a couple of faults…
He may have been extremely dull but at least he had a cool looking suit!
There are two sticking points that drag the film down a bit. The first is classic MCU “poorly realised villain” syndrome, as Darren Cross is just your classic power-and-fame-hungry businessman with literally nothing else going for him. He’s just a tool to build the relationship and comedy of the rest of the cast around, and while that works it’s still a shame to see such a one-dimensional character.
The other is a scene where Scott has to steal a specific piece of tech from a warehouse and it turns out said warehouse is now part of the Avengers base. Scott tries to steal from it anyway (and for the record, does) but ends up fighting Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to do it. It’s a somewhat fun fight, but it reeks of “trying to get Ant-Man to tie into the MCU”, which is very unlike them, frankly. They’re normally very good at having things naturally flow into the continuity, but this was sledgehammer-to-the-face obvious. The mid-credits scene sees Falcon asking around for info on Scott, which will lead to Ant-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. To be honest seeing a younger Hank talk to an older Agent Carter and others in the 70s (or 80s, can’t remember) was enough to tie the film in, but I guess they wanted a more specific set up for the Captain America sequel…
It’s (past) Ant-Man and (future) The Wasp!
Ant-Man is a really fun heist film, with a sci-fi twist that has plenty of heart to go along with the humour. The main protagonist side is extremely well cast and bounce off each other perfectly, it’s just a shame that the antagonist side is dull. Throw in a forced Avengers scene and it knocks it down a peg, but it’s still well worth watching if you want to be entertained for two hours.