Somewhere along the line, every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had this tendency to take itself seriously. To have one of ‘those’ moments. Tony Stark removing the metal bits in his chest and driving off into the sunset. Captain America wondering if he should turn in the shield and look at the lilies in the valley. You know the kind.
Ant-Man is awesome because it just doesn’t go there. The few times that it steers towards the melodramatic — believe me when I say there’s plenty of scope for it with the daddy issues that the cast seems to share — Paul Rudd ensures that there’s a wisecrack to save the moment. The only thing that’s missing is canned laughter. But then again this isn’t F.R.I.E.N.D.S
This may be why a lot of people don’t consider Ant-Man superhero royalty, at least not in the Iron Man or Thor category. But as a standalone film, this is a much better offering as it doesn’t pander to any of those presets that people have about Marvel movies. And it’s got a set of one-liners that’ll keep you in splits throughout.
Paul Rudd plays electrical engineer-turned cat burglar Scott Lang, whose only goal in life is to get to see more of his daughter Cassie, which he cant. Because he doesn’t have a job, so no child support equals no visitation. On a parallel track, the back story fills us in about Michael Douglas (Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man), who quits SHIELD and takes his human shrinking suit and shoves it into a dusty safe after his wife dies. In case you’re wondering, they both had suits that shrunk them and were trying to disarm a Russian nuke headed from upstate NYC when she sacrificed herself for the greater good. Etcetera.
Why does he want Paul Rudd to step into his atomic shoes? Because his slightly deeply ex-protege Darren Cross is recreating the Ant-Man suit and wants to sell it to the highest bidder as a weapon of miniature destruction (WMD). His daughter Hope van Dyne wants to do the job but there are too many unresolved family issues there. Luckily, they don’t feel compelled to talk about it too much.
The entire finding-the-inner-superhero bit where Rudd gets used to shrinking and unshrinking and learns to commandeer ants of all races is one of the most endearing you’ll see in a Marvel flick. Its not just funny. It’s touchy-feely and funny, which is a rarity. The rushes where he bonds with the ants and gets them to do cool stuff like infiltrate Darren Cross’ facility is nothing short of fantabulous.
You know Ant-Man’s going to win. It’s such an in-dark film that not even the Yoda-esque Douglas dies after being shot in the cheat. There’s absolutely nothing new or unique about the plot in Ant-Man. Honestly, it’s almost like a preset Stan Lee fabric on a loom with plenty of Avengers references thrown in and enough crossovers with Stark Sr and SHIELD for you to know that this little guy’s going to be around in a lot of Marvel movies set to come. The deal breaker here is the impact that Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd have on you - two men whom you’d never imagine would have anything to do in a superhero movie — cranking it down several subatomic notches.
Verdict: Good things do come in small packages. Ant-Man is proof of that.