“Sorry I’m late, I was saving the world. You know how it is.”
As the Marvel movie juggernaut rolls on, seemingly unstoppable, they have to dig deeper into their comic book roster of characters top populate this ever expanding world. With mega popular characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four tied up with other studios, last year Marvel took a gamble on the little known Guardians of the Galaxy, and it paid off big. I was skeptical of that movie, then found it amazing fun. But even with that hindsight, and even with the always delightful Paul Rudd in the lead, I found it hard to look past the corny premise in the lead up to Ant-Man.
Scott Lang (Rudd) is released after a few years in jail for some Robin Hood style embezzling from big business to pay back exploited employees. With a young daughter as his inspiration, Scott is determined to stay on the straight and narrow and find straight work. But when his record as a felon makes that impossible, he takes one last job as a cat burglar so he can make the cash he needs to gain visitation rights with his kid. He robs the house of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and finds a mysterious suit locked away in a heavy duty safe. When curiosity gets the better of him, he tries the suit on and discovers it gives him the power to shrink to the size of an ant.
Turns out, the robbery of Pym’s house was orchestrated by Pym himself. He was covertly recruiting Scott to help in yet another burglary. Pym invented the shrinking suit in the 80s, and even used it as a covert superhero. But after a tragedy involving his wife, he hung the suit up and tried to bury his research that lead to the sinking technology. Now, his former protégé (Corey Stoll as Darren Cross) has uncovered that technology and built his own suit with plans to sell it to the highest bidder as a weapon of war. So Pym, his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily), Scott and Scott’s ragtag group of small time criminal friends (including a movie stealing Michale Pena), must pull off the ultimate heist to steal the weaponised suit and keep the technology from falling into the wrong hands.
Like I said, I was skeptical going into Ant-Man. The character just seemed like the worst kind of silver age comic book invention. The kind that was slapped together quickly, combined with any old random animal, trying to cash in on the superhero boom. How can a little, tiny dude be that effective as a superhero? And how could telepathically controlling ants being cool or interesting? Well, I was wrong, because while Ant-Man isn’t the biggest or most action packed Marvel movie, it might be the most fun.
The key to that, is that Ant-Man recognises that it’s built on a character and premise that does look corny on the surface. Instead of trying to hide that or gloss over it, Ant-Man points out its potential corniness, makes fun of it, then spends two hours proving that a little, tiny dude can be effective as a superhero. And that telepathically controlling ants can be surprisingly cool and interesting.