I remember being so thrilled when I first heard that Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas were joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but at the time, I had no idea who Ant-Man was nor did I know anything about Dr. Hank Pym and the Pym Particle. I therefore didn’t have any expectations when I bought my ticket for Ant-Man. My only expectations came from some of the kids in a play I was directing; one said it was just as good as Guardians of the Galaxy, and another said it was better (a bold statement, I must say). Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to sit down to see it (not only that, but it was the first movie I would see in a theater in three weeks since that last one).
After seeing the film, I can say that it is a fun, summertime blockbuster filled with nicely shot action sequences and super-cool graphics, however I left with the impression that the story really wasn’t about Ant-Man so much as it was just a carefully crafted introduction to the Pym Particle. Not that there’s anything wrong with setting up the foundations of MCU Phase 3, but to do so at the expense (even if ever so slightly) of a good story with the type of character gravity we Marvel fans have adored for so long is not what I expected.
But maybe that’s for the better. Because, even with all that being said, I was still pleasantly surprised by Ant-Man‘s simplicity. Compared to the rest of the MCU, it feels like a calming breath of fresh air. Not to downplay its value in the MCU dramatically intense canon, but the story flow is considerably more relaxed in this film. In some particular moments, the stakes are extremely high, but for the majority of the time, we’re left with watching a retired super-hero pass on his legacy to an uninitiated stranger in a safe and nonthreatening environment.
I wish Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man had been more of a dynamic character instead of the static schlub, but he did well with what he was given. Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym was at moments heartwarming and endearing and at others firm and staunch – the array of acting chops one would expect of Michael Douglas. The most tender moments of the film are whenever Dr. Pym speaks of Scott like one of his own children (more on that later), and the chemistry between Douglas and Rudd is a wonder to behold. Other shout-outs go to Evangeline Lily as Hope van Dyne and Corey Stoll as the villainous Darren Cross/Yellowjacket.
I liken Ant-Man to the satyr plays of Greek theatre; whenever a trilogy of tragedies had transpired, a fourth play of comedic relief would help the audience cope with what all they had just experienced – to help them remember to breathe after holding their breath after a highly climactic scene had just taken place. So here we are at the end MCU Phase 2 and at the beginning of MCU 3, and Ant-Man reminds us to breathe (if for any reason, to get us pumped for what’s coming up next…be sure to stay after all the credits to see what I’m talking about).
The Christian Angle: Spiritual Adoption
As I alluded to earlier, some of the most powerful moments in Ant-Man happen when Dr. Pym speaks of and speaks to Scott Lang as if he were one of his own children. It is especially compelling since Scott had sinned against Pym, and the latter is quick to offer forgiveness. He even wants Scott to readjust those skills that had made him a criminal and use them for the greater good.
So it is with God. Whenever we sin against God, He always offers forgiveness; rather, it has already been offered for all of humanity when let His own Son die for our sins against Him. Once we accept that gracious gift, we are then transformed into one of God’s own children, and part of that transformative process may (and probably will) include turning the skills that separated us from God into gifts that restore us and others back to Him. And we know we’re in good hands with a Father like that.