But it ain’t great either. One of the most exciting parts of any superhero story is the setup. How a hero becomes a hero. Their backstory; how they come to terms with this new power or responsibility; the inherent tension between the want to use this new ability for good versus selfish reasons-it is all such good fodder because it’s so human, and as viewers, we can live vicariously through these people who are either thrust or born into these situations. We get to live with them as human before they become super.
Furthermore, we get to see the transformation as they find themselves, and come to terms with this new part of themselves. We get to traverse their inner morality and philosophy and come out the other end with how they will reconcile what they do, and how they do it, with why. And when they figure THAT out, THAT is when they are able to finally be crowned with that title of superhero-something MORE (better even) than human. After that the struggles are rarely as interesting. It’s mostly, this new bad guy is harder to beat than the last bad guy. It’s becomes more about finding new levels of power and cool new gear or suit redesigns, instead of dealing with ideas of identity and the resolve to change one’s life forever for the good of others. I mean, after you decide to do that… what can compare?
So, what’s my point? My point, is that Ant-man did not do this. Marvel did not capitalize on the opportunity to really delve into the backstory and individual characters of Hank Pym and Scott Lang. I mean, c’mon, the psyche of a normal human being deciding to put their life on the line everyday to save the world? That is fascinating. How does a person get to that point? There’s depth there-real struggle… but Ant-Man didn’t have any of that. It was too easy to become Ant-man, so I found myself not really caring that he did.
Also, Ant-man is one of those great Marvel characters that doesn’t have as many reiterations as the X-Men or Thor, or the Hulk–what a great opportunity to find a new evolution… but again, Marvel didn’t do that. Which is sad, because Paul Rudd is so good at what he does, and it would have been a perfect opportunity to sort of remake ant-man (much in the vein of how Ironman was remade a bit.. polished-if you will). Here you have a great actor and you… just… decide not to use his considerable talent. What a waste.
I said that Ant-Man wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t. It is certainly not the worst movie I have ever seen, but it was just filler. It felt as though Marvel just needed another snarky superhero to add to the roster so as to fill out the other side of the next Avengers movie. So they set down their cookie cutter formula and just started filling in the blanks. Without any sort of creativity. Waste.
BUT the good things… Paul Rudd was at the top of the list for me, even though much of the film had awkward dialogue and I didn’t really believe him as Scott Lang. But there was this twinkle in his eye during a lot of the more, I’m just going to say stupid scenes, that sort of said, ‘I know that this is bullshit, but stay with me, I know you know and I know you know I know.’ Also, I just kind of love Paul Rudd. (Can’t blame a girl for that!) Anyway, I’d say that towards the middle of the movie is when it felt as though Rudd was really able to be his more quirky self, so that’s when the movie started to gain some steam. Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays Paul Rudd’s daughter, is adorable and I felt that she had some of the more genuine moments in the film. Michael Pena was great comic relief, but it was clear that he was put in there purely for that purpose and nothing else. The graphics were great, and I think one of my favorite parts were the ants-I got kind of attached to them by the end. Evangeline Lilly was great and Corey Stoll always does amazing work… but unfortunately their performances were stymied by a cookie cutter plot line and (I can only imagine) rushed writing.
Overall Ant-man was entertaining, I don’t know if I’d recommend paying the extra money for the IMAX 3D experience (although that was impressive) the movie just doesn’t have enough meat on it for me to justify that sort of recommendation. And I’ll be honest, the extra scenes at the end of the credits (there are 2) were actually far more thrilling and interesting than 99% of the movie itself. So, that should be pretty telling. Then again… maybe I’m just taking this too seriously… in the end it is a about a guy who shrinks and talks to ants.
So, I return to my initial assessment. It ain’t bad, but it ain’t great.