Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Based on: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Mackie, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Hayley Atwell, Wood Harris, John Slattery, Martin Donovan
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 5.8.2015
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from prison and determined to go straight, at least for the sake of his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder-Fortson) who lives with her mother Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new boyfriend (Bobby Canavale). But getting a foot on the ground as an ex-con is difficult and when Scott’s former cell mate Luis (Michae Peña) promises a riskfree way of getting some starter money, Scott gives in. What he doesn’t know is that Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) set him up to do just that because he wants to make Scott the new Ant-Man, a miniaturized superhero, despite the protestation of his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who wants to take on the role herself. In any case time is ticking because Hank’s protégé Darren (Corey Stoll) is working on his own shrinking technology and is becoming more and more unhinged.
With all I had heard about Ant-Man before seeing it, I didn’t expect much. It turned out that it was more entertaining than I anticipated, but also completely infuriating in its choice of main character.
A lot of the (character) conflict in the film comes from the fact that Hank refuses to let Hope put on the Ant-Man suit. Hope is upset about it, feeling that it is ridiculous that her father would rather train a stranger – and have her train that same stranger – than think her competent enough, but actually he just thinks it’s too dangerous and he is worried about her because he loves her. And it was just so goddamn annoying that apparently the entire film was aware how much better Hope would have been suited for the job, but we couldn’t possibly have a film that doesn’t star a white guy, so let us allude to the possibility that women could be their own superheroines, and then just snatch it away. Because Hank is worried. His patronizing and infantilizing treatment of his daughter comes from a place of love. Well, that’s alright then. Not.
Evangeline Lilly does her best but with a story arc like that, most of the time doing her best meant glaring at the dudebros around her. In a similarly frustrating position is Michael Peña, who is great as Luis but the script is a mixed bag of beans for him. I loved the subversion of racist stereotypes with the wine tasting and the art gallery, his fast talking and his sweetness, but then you also get lines like the throw-away comment about the deportation of his entire family. Luis mentions it and quickly moves on to his great new van (Peña plays that moment to perfection and you can see Luis’ pain even as he makes light of it), it plays for laughs and we never hear about it again. If there had been a moment later-on in the film where Scott just quietly asks Luis how he’s holding up, it would have made a world of difference. But instead Luis gets stuck in the funny sidekick of color role, without much of a meaningful inner life.
Despite both of these things – and they are not small things – the film was entertaining and actually rather funny. Paul Rudd has great comedic timing, as does the film in general. Corey Stoll makes for a formidably unhinged opponent. And the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) cameo and the general embedding in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were wonderfully handled.
In the end though the film only gets this close to the film I actually wanted to see: which would have been all about Hope, her mother and Luis. Forget all those white guys.