As great passion for Marvel movies would have it, my partner and I broke our weekly date tradition of staying in to Netflix to see Marvel’s latest film: Ant-Man.
I’ll be honest. Although the trailers for every Marvel movie since Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier could make me giddy with excitement, the ones for Ant-Man really didn’t do much for me. The first ant-sized look was rather clever, but most of the film’s subsequent trailers made it difficult to parse out any distinguishable story line, thus doing nothing to incite my interest.
So why did I go? Tradition, hearsay, and hope. My partner and I have started a trend of watching all Marvel films together in theater; he’d heard positive feedback from his friends; and I hoped that it would at least be relatively humorous.
And even with my slightly negative and uninformed outlook, what was my final verdict?
Of course, at this point, I admit that I’m probably at least a little biased in favor of Marvel’s films because of my partner, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible.
The film does a fantastic job of (re)introducing its viewers into the MCU. Ant-Man opens with a brief crash course, so to speak, on who had been and would eventually be involved with the utilization of the Ant-Man shrinking technology. Immediately afterward, the film features anecdotal snippets for all of their leading cast of characters.
While most of Marvel’s films centralizes on exceptional individuals – gods from other worlds, men of almost unspeakable brilliance, women who fought their way to stand tall in society – Ant-Man focuses, perhaps intentionally, on those who are ant-sized.
The protagonist, Scott Lang, has a long history of burglarizing and landing himself in jail. When his crimes begin to threaten his chances of seeing his nine-year-old daughter, Scott vows to change his ways for good.
When Scott’s old friends drop him a tip about a wealthy, old CEO who has a massive safe, however, Scott can’t help but cave at the prospect of money that could help set him on the path to seeing his daughter again. It’s because of this grand heist that Scott lands himself deep within the conflict over the Ant-Man technology.
In the end, having basically zero knowledge of the film before walking into the theater worked out in my favor.
Because I had no expectation of these new characters or this superhero, I ended up being immensely surprised and impressed by the film’s thorough and thoughtful character development.
Each character in this film felt extremely human. They were complex people with personal agendas, hidden desires, and emotional baggage that weighed heavily on their shoulders. Marvel managed to capture the subtle, particular nuances of interpersonal relationships on-screen, in a film with superheroes, nonetheless.
Since Ant-Man ultimately placed more focus on the emotional and the comedic rather than the fantastic, by the time I walked out of the theater, I was truly sold on the concept of a superhero the size of an ant.
My only [personal] conundrum: One simply cannot watch Paul Rudd coo over ants and not question one’s morals before killing ants in the future. To all the ants in the Bay Area: For my sanity, please, let’s maintain our peace.