Big things come in small packages, and that’s something that’s always been true for the hero Ant-Man. The movie adaptation of the hero’s origin, Ant-Man, opens in theaters today, is a definite treat for the Marvel Cinematic Universe fans who might not have been as impressed with Avengers: Age of Ultron, but were huge fans of Guardians of the Galaxy. It is the final film in “Phase 2” and as staunch fans will catch on this is with good reason, as Ant-Man will be heavily connected to many aspects of the MCU going forward – some that might not come to any fruition, and others that are going to take us to DEFCON 1.
This is a story about Scott Lang, who in comic books was the 2nd Ant-Man, and the movie sticks with that theme. He is a self proclaimed “cat burglar” who has just gotten out of prison, and through a series of events ends up breaking into a home where he comes into possession of a suit that he can use to shrink down to a size where he can ride an ant like it is a horse. Hence his name… get it… Ant-Man. In a way similar to the comic book also, he is doing this for his daughter… though the circumstances are a bit different.
Comic book fans like myself, those who are familiar with the history of the Avengers have been wondering just how Ant-Man would fit into the MCU. After all in comic books, the original Ant-Man was Hank Pym, and he was one of the founding members of the Avengers, before Captain America, Hawkeye, or Black Widow were ever members. In comics he is the guy who created Ultron, not Stark. He has also been several superheroes including Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Wasp, etc. So the big question for this group was just how were you going to fit this diverse a character back into the mix?
In short, this is handled extremely well. The pieces of Pym’s story are brought in piece by piece and at just the right times. In this way you can see the parallels between the growth of both Lang and Pym in the movie. One thing that this movie helped me with is the Ultron that was presented in Age of Ultron – as I struggled with that interpretation. Missing was the psycho-drama element of the Pym vs. Ultron struggle – and Ultron was turned into all the worst elements of Tony Stark instead. Here, in place of Ultron, we have Yellowjacket – who unlike comics is NOT Pym (no spoiler here, this was all over the trailers), and as is true to the MCU is different yet analogous to his Earth-616 (soon to be zero?) counterpart. As a result he takes on many of the personality traits of Ultron from the comic books.
There is the contingent of people who have been wondering why they should care about a dude who can shrink and talk to ants. Well because when a dude with a bow and arrow or a gal with a guns and martial arts can stand tall against the likes of a Hulk, everything else in between can work, and a tiny dude can stand tall too. However, in case that’s not enough there are elements added to this movie that are there to help you through this particular issue. Each a piece of the puzzle to set up so much of what will be “Phase 3” of the MCU.
While I’m sure you’ve already been taking your kids to see the MCU movies, I wanted to say that for younger, even Pre-Teen audiences, this might be the most approachable of all the films to date. Cassie Lang being the differentiating factor there. Because there are a lot of elements of the story that are there to make a young girl work within its context younger kids may relate better and understand more of the story. That said, there are still guns, stuff gets blown up, crimes occur, and people die. Overall this is a super fun movie, full of a lot of what makes comic book drama great. MCU fans are going to want to see this.