Marvel Studios have been on a path of exponential growth over the last few years. The films have only been getting bigger and more ambitious. Expanding across time and space. It was only natural to wonder where else the studio had left to go. Would this ever increasing mass of plot, characters and action collapse under it’s own weight like a city of rock being lifted into the sky. So for their next trick after the gargantuan massiveness of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Marvel decided to make a film that was smaller in terms of scope, action but most importantly not character. Ant-Man feels like a film from Marvel’s first phase of films but it sits very nicely along with the other films but shows us sort of where the studio came from and what they do best.
At the start of the film we’re introduced to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) he’s in prison but doesn't seem like a hardened criminal though and it soon becomes clear his crime was some sort of Robin Hood based revenge on a morally dubious company. What also becomes clear is for Scott everything he does is motivated by his daughter Cassie and his desire to protect her. We can see how much she means to him and how much he means to her and this grounds the film and gives it high emotional stakes. Paul Rudd is also such a charming performer we’re almost instantly on his side this makes the fact he can’t see his daughter all the more engaging as an arc we want him to be able to see her not just for his sake but for hers. It’s not long after Scott says his life of crime is behind him that he has to indulge those same criminal impulses once again but only because it will help him see Cassie. Soon though Scott is thrown into the path of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) the former Ant-Man a man with his own regrets about his relationship with his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and a man whose prepared to help Scott by training him to become the new Ant-Man. It’s a really interesting decision that the film makes to have Hank Pam be sort of a mirror to Scott although because the script requires that broken relationship between Hope and Hank she does end up being sort of sidelined when it the world of the film it might make best sense for her to be the Ant-Man. After the film sets this world up it then moves into a middle act which is a very elongated training montage building up to the big heist at the end. This training bit is very watchable it moves along quickly cutting form bit to bit and showing us new things and keeping the jokes up but once the film gets to the heist you feel like you wish you’d got there sooner. The heist stuff though is really great and it’s the sort of action we haven't really had before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe . It also brings out more of the films humour especially from Michael Pena whose character Luis really steals (pardon the pun) the show. but just as you think the film might have forgotten the father-daughter relationship that makes it different the films brings it all home for an inventive thrilling final showdown where the person Scott cares for the most is at stake.
In the end Ant-Man is a highly effective piece of entertainment with important emotional beats mixed with inventive small scale action.