Uncle Josh reviews Ant-Man

Today I finally let myself see Ant-Man. Short review: Fun Flick. Go See.

Preview Review:

  • Batman v Superman (or whatever): Yawn. Let’s criticize the wanton destruction of Man of Steel with wanton destruction.
  • Star Wars Episode VII: Don’t break my heart. Please oh please do not break my heart.
  • Mission Impossible Rogue Nation: Won’t see it, because of capitalism.
  • Goosebumps: Definitely for the Netflix queue. This looks like it will be fun.

Slightly longer review: I don’t remember being an Avengers reader as  a kid, back whene there was really only one Avengers comic. When I returned to comics in adulthood* it was through Claremont and Davis’ Excalibur, and through that into the X-Men, and through the many years of X-everything and sort of disdain for anything “Team A”. I know some of the history of the Ant-Man character but not enough to be dogmatic.

I know both Hank Pym and Scott Lang wore the costome and took the name in the comic books, and I appreciate how this movie made that work. They’re dealing with comic characters created over 50 years ago; there’s a lot of history and storyline to deal with, and the MCU seems to be building up to a Jim Starlin Extravaganza. (I am for this, by the way.)

So they let the younger man take the lead, and it works. Lang is a catburglar trying to go straight, and not getting very far. He has a daughter who is as cute as a button and an ex-wife who is now engaged to a cop. I felt the writing was a bit heavy handed with the repeat of “be the hero your daughter thinks you are.” That may have been an attempt to tie in to the “second chances” theme, but it didn’t work so well for me.

I also feel like a nitpick goes to how quickly they crossed the country during the movie, and the whole bit about the raid on the Avengers, while fun, was not contextualized enough. All that means is they assumed anyone seeing Ant-Man had seen Avengers Age of Ultron.

Another nit-pick: Ant-Man hits a lot of people for someone claiming to be a pacifist.

The positives, though, are many (HERE BE SPOILERS): Scotts Ex-Wife doesn’t dump her fiancée to accept Scott back in her life, but she still accepts Scott back in her life. Scott’s kid is brave and solid, and while technically needs to be rescued there is a glimpse of the girl who won’t need rescuing later in life. Hope van Dyne is an unexpected love interest, but she sure as hell doesn’t need protecting, and would appear to be perfectly capable of handling the crap her father want to protect her from. She should be an equal partner to Ant-Man as the next Wasp.

Plot wise, the parallel between Pym and Lang works. Both men have fractured relationships with their daughters and desire to win their daughters back. Naturally, they have to do things they don’t want to do. Pym has to let go of some control, and Lang has to fight. Once Lang makes the decision, to take his second chance, though, he never looks back. He also never gives up.

This, I think, is the hallmark of the Marvel hero. Everyone gives up on the plan except Lang, and he finds a way through using the most amusing sidekicks. (I hope the DVD has a bunch of shorts with Luiz just telling stories.) There is no rallying cry moment, though. Lang doesn’t show doubt after he accepts the hero’s journey. Even though those around him are doubtful and feeling hopeless, he pushes on. Come to think of it, I don’t know if any of the other MCU heroes used a rallying cry. (For comparison, Aragorn gives a speech before battle at the black gates in The Return of The King, Shakespeare’s Henry V gives his St. Crispin’s Day speech.)

There is no pause for hopelessness, and perhaps that makes for a more lightheated hero movie. Maybe lighthearted is the wrong word, but the movie had more laughs in it than other MCU entries. I suppose when the villian is also threatened by a toy Thomas the Tank Engine, there’s a certain levity that cannot be avoided and therefore must be embraced, and embrace it they did.


* Well, adolesence allowed to drink

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