A guy becomes ant-sized and communicates with ants to…save the world? Kind of sounds like a bad Raid commercial to me. And yet, Ant-Man, one of Marvel’s most overlooked additions to the MCU, was actually pretty enjoyable — not that this should be too surprising, I suppose, since the most likable man in the world plays the movie’s lead. If you’re thinking of anyone other than Paul Rudd, you’re just wrong.
Ant-Man is the story of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his legendary invention of “Pym particles” — a type of particle that can increase or decrease the distance between atoms in order to shrink or enlarge a person or object. Pym incorporates these particles into a suit that allows the wearer to shrink to the size of an ant, while maintaining the strength of a full-sized person. This invention, however, brings danger and risk, as being able to shrink oneself is a threat to national security — if a person is too small to detect, then they can infiltrate any security system in the world. Pym decides that the risks of his suit are too big and leaves Pym Industries with his secret formula in hand. Little does he know, his young protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is intent on recreating the particles and using them for the exact purpose for which Hank Pym has shut down the program altogether.
Fast forward 20 years and we meet Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a recently released ex-con who is struggling to support his child while also attempting to stay out of the crime scene. The latter part of this plan fails and he finds himself in the custody of Hank Pym, a mysterious figure who has broken him out of prison with the intent of using his burglarizing skills to break into Cross’s lab and steal his particle research before he can sell it to the men from HYDRA (Don’t you just love the MCU overlap?)
Though Ant-Man does have similar qualities to the other movies from Marvel — superheroes, villains, crossovers, powers, plights, etc. — it is unique in that it does not take itself too seriously, and also relies on the comfortable humor of Paul Rudd to maintain this casual vibe — a vibe, which really, is true to most of the Ant-Man comics. However, even though the plot does not feel as dire as other superhero movies, it is still exciting, entertaining, and fun. Myself, I came into this movie wondering why it would even be useful to have the power to be ant-sized and talk to ants, but the film does a good idea of showing the benefits of being tiny-sized — “the half-inch hero!” — and proving that heroes can exist at any scale.
While I will say that this movie is slightly more enjoyable if you have a background in the comics (the film doesn’t explain much about Hank Pym’s own career as Ant-Man or his daughter’s identity as another creepy crawly *hint hint sequel hint hint*), it’s an easy watch and a great foray into the world of Marvel films for anyone who isn’t quite so sure about committing to all 30 or so of the franchise’s movies just yet. Plus, come on, it’s Paul Rudd — who doesn’t like Paul Rudd?
Check out Ant-Man for a superhero movie that’s a little of the same and a little something different — and hey, don’t bug out: no ants were harmed in the making of this film (we think).