It goes without saying that Ant-Man is the smallest superhero on the Marvel block. And while he exceeds expectations in his first big-screen appearance, the smaller-is-better vigilante does not seem to be up there with the big boys at the Avengers headquarters. Because, as fun as he is to watch, Ant-Man’s memorability is only as big as his tiny stature.
MINI-SPOILER MARK: Minor plot details discussed beyond this point. No major spoilers revealed.
Ex-convict Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from prison, only to find his life trapped and directionless. He is unable to find a job (despite his engineering qualifications), and is unable to pay the child support that will allow him to see his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Determined to do whatever it takes to reunite with Cassie, Scott re-enters a life of burglary with a heist team (Michael Pena, T.I. and David Dastmalchian) and ends up being recruited by former scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) for a mission.
Pym trains Scott to succeed him as Ant-Man, teaching him to use a suit that allows him to shrink while increasing his strength. Alongside Pym’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and an army of ants, Scott embarks on the most important burglary of his life as he tries to prevent Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from recreating the Ant-Man technology and selling it to the wrong hands.
With the recent string of successful movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio has proven itself consistent at producing superhero flicks that thrill and entertain the audience. And Ant-Man is no different. Up-tempo and action-packed, the movie easily keeps viewers interested with its slick action scenes – whether they be “regular” heists or Ant-Man missions – and consistent humour.
Indeed, “Ant-Man” does not sound like the coolest superhero, but the film does not hold back in showcasing his many abilities and just how much he can accomplish as the smallest man in the world. This, combined with Scott’s innovation and charm – which Rudd effortlessly injects into his character – makes Ant-Man a fully likeable superhero who turns out to be just as cool as the big guys on the block, such as Captain America and Iron Man.
Where humour is concerned, Ant-Man takes itself a lot less seriously than other Marvel films. But while the jokes are aplenty and occasionally feel excessive with certain characters (Pena‘s Luis, in particular), the humour is well-timed and entertaining enough that it undoubtedly elevates the film and keeps it afloat in slower scenes. Whether one desires a more serious superhero movie or otherwise, Ant-Man‘s abundance of light-hearted moments are certainly appreciated.
But despite his superstrength, Ant-Man is unable to pack quite a punch with the audience. Indeed, the scaled-down tone of the movie (especially in the wake of Age of Ultron) is refreshing rather than a flaw. However, a thoroughly predictable and recycled plot means that Ant-Man only thrills on the surface, but offers close to nothing beneath the action and humour.
There are appreciated attempts at development and depth for the main characters, and while Ant-Man would certainly be worse without these back-stories, they are not particularly successful in achieving their desired effect. Save for Scott and Pym, the characters are uninteresting and fail to inspire concern or fear.
Ant-Man’s misfortune is that he is a memorable superhero trapped in a more-or-less forgettable movie. It certainly does not help that tiny Scott Lang is facing literal behemoths in the shared Marvel universe.
Sure, Ant-Man has enough cool and charm to succeed as a superhero on his own, and he is a thoroughly entertaining addition to the MCU. But in a world that already belongs to The Avengers, it is easy to forget that this insect-sized vigilante is even there.
Rating: 3.0/5 (TALK-o-meter: “Okay, I guess? Could be better.”)