Sometimes big things come in small sizes. Sorry, that joke had to be made. Paul Rudd has entered the cinematic universe as one of Marvel’s smallest superheroes — Ant-Man is being hoarded as being better than the last Avengers movie, and while I don’t think you can really compare the two films, the latest entrance into the MCU is pretty good, moves the overall arching storyline forward, and sets up the possible future of another character.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a thief, well… sort of. He ends up in jail because he stole from his company after whistle-blowing their own thieving scheme. After getting out, he vows to never pull off any more heists ever, but his friend Luis (Michael Peña) convinces him of doing one more. The mission is to break into a safe in the house of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). However, when he finally gets into the heavily secured vault, all he finds is a suit. After finding out what the suit does — it has enormous power and shrinks anyone wearing it to ant-size.
So Dr. Pym becomes Scott’s mentor and in working with him, they, along with Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) concoct a plan to take down Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has taken over Pym’s company. Pym, Scott, and Hope must keep the secret behind the Ant-Man suit, which Darren wants for his Yellow Jacket suit. Darren is dangerous and fueled by hatred for Pym, his former mentor. Against all odds, the trio must pull off a heist that will, of course, save the world.
There is nothing particularly revelatory about Ant-Man. The main difference between Ant-Man and the members of the Avengers, is that Scott is more of a reluctant and accidental hero. This is not what he signed up for, and his background is anything but squeaky clean. So this gives him an extra layer of intrigue, mingled with the fact that he’s a family man (well, he’s trying to be a good dad to his little girl anyway) and he’s somewhat more layered than some other characters that have been introduced. Paul Rudd puts in a solid performance and Michael Douglas is also great as Dr. Pym. Evangeline Lilly is pushed aside as more of a supporting character, but thankfully we do see some buildup for what she’ll eventually become: Wasp. This is the most exciting aspect of the film mainly because we all know from this film that she is capable of taking on this character.
The film isn’t without faults. There isn’t a single bit of sexual tension between Rudd and Lilly’s characters, but a kiss is tacked on near the end of the film that comes off entirely too forced. Michael Peña, who is honestly the savior of the film with his comedic scenes and their execution, is relegated to the side as a stereotypical Hispanic criminal who is just in there for laughs and not much else. This is a shame, because Peña is a very capable actor. The talented Judy Greer is also given a particularly small role as Rudd’s ex-wife who has moved on to dating cop Bobby Cannavale.
On the plus side, at least the film keeps its disastrous fighting to a contained area and rather than destroying whole cities like the Avengers (Anthony Mackie and Hayley Atwell have cameos). Ant-Man is entertaining for what it is, but is average on the scale of all the Marvel films so far. Its action is fantastic, Ant-Man’s abilities pretty cool, and the setup for future films solid enough. Paul Rudd is a good addition to the MCU and the post-credits scene with Evangeline Lilly bodes excitement for what is to come.
Release Date: July 17, 2015 | Director: Peyton Reed | Screenwriters: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd | Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Mackie, Judy Greer, T.I., Abby Ryder Fortson, Hayley Atwell | Genre: Action, Sci-Fi | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence