I’ve always been a superhero fan, and it’s largely because I was raised that way, I grew up watching the original superman trilogy–while other kids were scared of the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz, it was the three “bad guys” who were condemned to wander space that kept me from falling asleep at night. When Spider-Man hit theaters in 2002, I couldn’t wait to go. I was in second grade. That movie, along with its two sequels, became a part of my childhood. I can still recite them line by line, and frequently reference them. Naturally, I was a little peeved when some of my childhood friends–who rolled their eyes at my pleas to watch superhero films at slumber parties–suddenly went gaga for my childhood hero when Andrew Garfield was cast to star in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
But that’s beside the point. The point is, though I grew up watching superhero movies, I have barely scratched the surface of Marvel fandom. Over three years of dating a comic book nerd has shown me just how little I know. Another sign? When I first heard that a new Marvel film called Ant-Man was in the works, I was surprised. “Ant-Man? That’s actually a superhero?”
“Yes,” said Garret. “But he’s a lot cooler as Giant-Man.” And it turns out Giant-Man becomes Goliath (same powers, but a different suit). The things I didn’t know.
Since I first caught wind of Ant-Man, I’d been wondering how it would do as a movie. A tiny, ant-like superhero just didn’t seem like it would do well in theaters, especially when the past few years have seen films like Man of Steel and Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. If this were one of those “Cross Out What Doesn’t Belong” worksheets, and Ant-Man was in the mix of titles, I think we all know how it’d end.
But then I saw the trailer (while I was waiting to see Age of Ultron, in fact). And it looked awesome. Already, I could see that I was wrong in thinking that a tiny superhero couldn’t kick butt; the trailer showed Ant-Man flying around from shoulder to shoulder, knocking people out with his tiny but powerful punches. And it looked funny–the trailer had the whole audience laughing!
From that time on, I couldn’t wait to see it. And I had the opportunity to a few nights ago.
I want to keep this post spoiler-free, but I’ll include some minor details of interest. The main thing is, I would recommend this movie. I had to get past the opening scene, though. Despite Garret’s excitement (“Tony Stark’s dad’s in this scene!!!”), I found the acting sub-par, and what was supposed to be a serious moment just seemed kind of pathetic to me. But that’s also probably just me being picky. It got a whole lot better from there on out.
What’s different about this movie from other superhero origins movies is that Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) is never alone in discovering his powers. I know that one could argue this is true for other superheroes, such as Captain America, but Steve Rogers embarks on solo missions after his strength is given to him. With Ant-Man, well, he’s never really alone. He’s either in the company of suit creator Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), or is following the commands of Hank’s voice. (Well, not always following the commands; headstrong Scott sometimes makes his own decisions). It’s not until the very end that we see Scott truly take control of his actions. I have to admit, this difference did disappoint me a little. I think it’s because that element of mystery that I’ve always loved about superhero movies just wasn’t present. It wasn’t like watching the lonesome Spider-Man, Hulk, or Wolverine trying to understand and control their newfound abilities. While Scott still had to learn about his powers, the process was guided, supervised…it felt very…elementary, for lack of a better word.
But that’s probably the only complaint I have, and it is more of a personal preference rather than an actual critique. Other things to note are that, despite a rumor Garret had heard about scheduling restraints, Stan Lee does make a cameo, which was a relief because Marvel movies just aren’t the same without him. A certain Avenger makes more-than-a-cameo, which surprised and excited us both (and turned out to be Garret’s favorite action scene of the movie). And, lastly, that creepy guy from Prisoners plays one of Scott’s friends and getaway guys. It was bizarre to see him playing a socially adept individual.
As you can see, Paul Dastmalchian took some getting used to for me.
If you do go, make sure to stick around for TWO scenes during and after the credits. Sometimes the scenes disappoint me, but I think they’re worth seeing, and these two were actually pretty good.
Was it the best superhero film of all time, as some critics are claiming? In my opinion, definitely not. But it’s still a great movie, not only on its own, but as a movie that intertwines with the Marvel universe. Comic book nerd, not at all, or in between like me, Ant-Man has enough going for it (great acting, a sympathetic protagonist, good pacing, and humor) to make us all happy.