Size Does Matter: An Ant-Man Review by Barry Pearl

He’s not your father’s Ant-Man. That would be Henry Pym, who was my Ant-Man.

First and foremost, I promise not to use any puns in this review, although it is tempting. I saw this movie in 3D IMAX.

Ant-Man is a fun, entertaining, small addition the Marvel Universe. Here, Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, becomes the Ant-Man. I give the movie three out of four stars and enjoyed it almost as much as Iron Man (the first one).

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, before Marvel returned to the realm of Super-Heroes they had “The Monster Age of Comics”. It was common to have covers and stories showing giant monsters threatening people and cities. By Tales of Suspense #32, Marvel was moving a bit away from monsters. But you didn’t have to have giant monsters attacking; all you had to do was shrink the people! This was done in “The Man in the Beehive,” featuring Lucius Farnsworth. He was now small, but the bees looked gigantic. Having failed in his tryout as Marvel’s insect hero, Farnsworth was unable to find work. He now lives in the Marvel Retirement Home on Timely Island, in the Characters without Continuity section. Visitors there say he’s OK but he looks drawn .This story was similar to “The Man in the Ant-Hill” from Tales to Astonish #27,(January 1962) which launched the career of Henry Pym who would return in issue #35 as the Ant-Man. He was created by Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby.

The Man in the Ant Hill

Henry Pym, a widow, acquires a sexy partner in issue #44, Janet Van Dyne, who becomes the Wasp, sort or a female Ant-Man with wings and a stinger. The two were founding members of the Avengers. Ant-Man sales were not as good as the other new heroes entering the Marvel Universe so in issue #49 they add two letters to his name, “G-i” and changed him into Giant-Man. Stan Lee often said that a reason for the failure is that the artists drawing Ant-Man did not draw the perspective well enough: small man, big buildings. In any case, Giant-Man Pym lasted until issue #69 and was replaced by the Sub-Mariner. At the same time Stan Lee removed him from the Avengers. A year later he returns, with a name change, as Goliath and in 1968 as Yellowjacket. That’s right, originally Yellowjacket was a hero, sort of.

Ant-Man original

The one bad thing about the movie is that it is an origin movie, which has now become formula. The character gets his powers, someone important has to die, the get the funny scenes of him learning his new skills, and then, usually a small event where he shows off at bit. Lastly we have to be introduced to a villain who MUST instantly show he is evil because there is not much time left in the movie!!! Most origin movies have the new hero fight another version of himself: Iron Man did that quickly, Captain America took two movies, Superman, Thor, X-Men and Batman did it in their first movies.

Here, Michael Douglas superbly plays an older Henry Pym passing his uniform and shrinking powers to Scott Lang. The beautiful Evangeline Lilly plays Pym’s daughter. And you instantly wonder if she will be the new Wasp, replacing her mother.

Avengers 161

In many ways this becomes a light hearted heist movie, with a funny and unlikely supporting cast. The new Ant-Man must break into several places, in his shrunken size, to prevent Darren Cross, later to become the Yellowjacket, (Corey Stoll) from selling the shrinking “supersoldier” concept to Hydra. On one occasion Scott must break into an Avengers storage unit and fight the Falcon, once again played by Anthony Mackie. Then Scott uses his friends to break into Pym Industries it’s clever and funny and yet stays serious enough.

The movie is just a lot of fun and is meant to be lighthearted. The characters seem to know that Ant-Man does not have the weight of Thor or Captain America and they play with that throughout. I mentioned Stan Lee’s perspective because the film just about gets it right. And the characters also realize that sometimes being their normal height is the best thing. I enjoyed a fight on a train, not on locomotives, but on Thomas the tank engine.

A major sub-plot, which I thoroughly enjoyed, was Pym’s relationship with his ex-wife, her new husband and their daughter. This began, well, formalistically, but, especially at very end, it was handled surprising well.

The special effects are just right; the movie does not have the scope of the Avengers saving New York. The 3D was fine and in several scenes really added to the movie. Please stay to the VERY end, there are two final scenes over and after the credits. And I did not recognize her at first, but Hayley Atwell, less than her usual gorgeousness is in the very first scene.