Live Action, Live Action, Reviews

MCU Countdown #12: ‘Ant-Man’

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In 2015, Marvel’s Ant-Man made his cinematic debut to a mostly unfamiliar audience. Other than the name of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the average movie-goer really had no idea what to expect or even who Ant-Man was. Long-time Marvel comics fans may have known the character, but for people like me, I had no idea of who the character of Ant-Man/Scott Lang was beyond what Wikipedia could tell me.

But things have changed. If Guardians of the Galaxy was the movie that got me into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man is what kept me coming back. Like I said in my Guardians review, I’d seen most of the MCU movies up to that point, but I didn’t really start to feel invested until that point. Guardians of the Galaxy just did not feel like a typical superhero movie, and I think that’s what set it apart. After that, came Avengers: Age of Ultron, and while my newfound appreciation for the series really enhanced my enjoyment of the film, when Ant-Man came along, it was just on a whole other level. Like Guardians, it wasn’t a typical superhero film, and that was definitely to its advantage.

Ant-Man, as his name would suggest, is a superhero with the power to shrink to the size of an ant. At first glance, it does seem a bit hokey, but really, it’s not that much more silly than Spider-Man’s wall-climbing powers or any number of wild powers found among the X-Men. It’s not the powers themselves, but what they do with them that counts, and that’s where things get interesting.

Scott Lang is a reformed thief before he takes on the mantle of Ant-Man. He has a daughter named Cassie who he’s trying to support, but with his criminal background, he is having a lot of trouble finding a job. To make matters worse, his ex-wife, who is understandably hesitant about having him around their daughter, has basically told him that he needs to start paying his child support if he wants visiting rights to see Cassie. In a moment of desperation, he agrees to one more burglary job, breaking into a safe down in the basement of a wealthy inventor. Supposedly, there is going to be untold riches in there, but all he finds is what appears to be an old motorcycle suit: the Ant-Man costume.

Back home, he puts on the suit and is immediately shrunk down to almost nothing. From inside the helmet, he hears a voice telling him what’s going on and what to do next. It turns out that the elderly inventor, Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, had been leaving a trail for him to follow. Pym wanted him to take the suit, and he wants Lang’s help to take on his old company who are planning to weaponize the shrinking technology that he invented.

Pym is also a pivotal character in Ant-Man, and not just because he is the inventor of the movie’s most important technology. Pym’s family dynamics are every bit as important to the story as Lang’s, if not more so. Like Lang, Pym also has a daughter, Hope. However, their relationship has been strained for decades since the death of her mother. This relationship is as much at the heart of the film as is Lang’s with his daughter, and the story revolving around his wife, Hope’s mother, is almost certain to be at the forefront of the sequel.

I won’t go into any more plot detail should you choose to watch this for yourself, (and you absolutely should!) but I will say that there is a ton of fun to be had with the shrinking concept. Ant-Man has one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most unique superhero/villain fights, which takes place among the toys scattered around Scott Lang’s daughter’s bedroom! It’s just so ingeniously creative, and all the different uses that they come up with for the size-changing technology is just so much fun to watch.

In addition to the shrinking powers introduced in this film, Ant-Man also introduces the MCU to the concept of the Quantum Realm, a subatomic universe found when shrinking down to an infinitely tiny size. This Quantum Realm is quite likely to play a pivotal role in the upcoming sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, but it’s also rumored to be an important part of next year’s as-of-yet untitled sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

All in all, Ant-Man is one of the best examples of what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer. It’s proof that superhero movies don’t have to only be about two over-powered super-beings battling it out to the death; they can also be about stories on a much smaller scale, like a reformed criminal trying to turn his life around for his daughter. Yeah, there’s spectacle and heroics here too, but the focus on the families at the heart of the film is one of the biggest things that sets this movie apart.

What are your thoughts about Ant-Man? Sound off below!

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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About Jonathan North

Jonathan North is writer, photographer, video editor, and animation fan from Iowa. He studied advertising and design at Iowa State University, and also has degrees in multimedia and art. His favorite movie is Fantasia, and his favorite cartoon is Gravity Falls. Or maybe Steven Universe. He can’t decide. You can find more of his work on his blog, as well as his YouTube channel, where he reviews all manner things, including (almost) every version ever of Alice in Wonderland. His favorites are the 1999 version starring Tina Majorino, and of course, the 1951 Disney version. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, @jonjnorth.