by George Wolf
A legendary screen icon once coolly remarked, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Ant-Man seems to know his, and comes equipped with enough style, wit and attitude to move past most of them.
As you might guess, the Ant-Man gets his name from being very small and extremely powerful. But, those qualities only come from wearing the special Ant-Man suit invented by Dr. Hank Pym, super- genius (Michael Douglas). Hank’s been looking for a younger suit-filler, and he hand picks ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who’s looking to go straight after serving time for some illegal high tech hacking.
Scott’s in line for the gig because Hank’s original protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), had to go get all evil and shit, trying to sell all their shrink technology to HYDRA.
See, Hank has a history with S.H.I.E.L.D., and living so ironically in the Avengers universe is one of the things Ant-Man gets right. The writing team of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead/Scott Pilgrim), Adam McKay (Anchorman/Step Bothers), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and Rudd (Role Models) brings some serious cred, with solid instincts for what this hero needs to stand out in the Marvel lineup.
Ant-Man’s backstory just isn’t that memorable, so the film wisely doesn’t spend too much time trying to chase some universal humanity that isn’t there. Instead, the script brings that wisecracking, wry humor the writers know well and Rudd excels at delivering. He makes Lang instantly likable and Ant-Man easy to root for, even in the midst of some clunky exposition.
Collateral damage from the dude-a-thon? Hank’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Sure, you can knock the entire Marvel franchise as one extended bro-down, but this under-written character is so poorly realized it just becomes a distraction, failing to justify the future that seems in store.
Director Peyton Reed (The Break Up) jumps enthusiastically into the superhero pool, providing a number of memorable set pieces and some truly dazzling visuals as the tiny Ant-Man navigates his immense surroundings. A Thomas the Tank set suddenly becoming a gigantic battleground of rolling tracks and cheeky engines? I’m in.
The payoffs get bigger as our hero gets smaller and the origin story fades farther in the rear view. Expect some Avenger cameos, with two extra scenes after the credits start rolling, and enough self-aware vibe to make Ant-Man‘s corner of the Marvel playground seem like a cool place to hang.