Kraig Taylor-Bryant continues his look at some of the solo films of the characters from the upcoming Avengers Infinity War. This time it's Ant-Man...
So we all know that Marvel is famous for having their films aimed more towards the male demographic due to their seeming refusal to give a more prominent female role into the original Avengers team. I mean, if they thought otherwise, don’t you think we would have got a Black Widow stand-alone film by now? I personally love the character of Black Widow and would love to see more prominent female roles in Marvel in general; of course in the X-Men it’s a different story, as they have a number of significant female characters, such as Mystique, Jean, Rogue, Kitty and more. Regardless, there is one film in Disney Marvel that seems to suit young girls more than any at the moment, and that film is Ant-Man. Yes, really. Since the film focuses on the theme of fathers and what they would do for their daughters, there is no better father-daughter film to watch in the lead up to Infinity War. Don’t believe me that this is the focus of Ant Man? Allow me to elaborate…
At the start of the film we see one of the main characters, Hank (Dax Griffin), who later appears to be the ‘mentor to the hero’ in the film, having issues with working with Howard Stark (John Slattery), so this part seems to be set in the past, alongside Captain America’s now ageing love interest from the first Captain America instalment, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). This is a nice cameo from this character as of course if any little girl watching was going to remember a prominent female role, why shouldn’t it be the one that was a strong military leader/agent. And we also have some guy who we don’t yet know fully, who seems to have significant disagreements with Hank, so Hank decides to leave, punching this guy who we don’t recognise and storming out. So, this if anything, is a great introduction to a character, because it doesn’t tell us who the main character is from the beginning, but rather, who his mentor is, whilst also letting us see a little more of Howard Stark and Agent Carter working together.
Following the opening credits, we return to the present and meet the main character Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who is being beaten up in a prison. This is meant to tell us from the start that he is a victim. Clearly the man, Hank, who we met at the start is a victim of sorts as-well but we are yet to see him make an appearance in the modern day as of this moment. The fact that we then see Scott throw a few punches back and it ends up being a joke, adds a bit of a comical elements and helps him come across as a friendlier guy, whereas, of course, if it opened to us seeing him beat someone up and is yelling, then we wouldn’t initially see him as becoming a hero/ So the intro to the main character seems pretty suitable as it tells us that he is a criminal, but he’s also a nice guy, so we know he’s not a murderer. We are then led to meet his friend Luis (Michael Pena), who picks him up when he is let out of prison. Luis tells him what he missed from his life, which seems to be some pretty sad stuff, but he also makes it come across as not a big deal, so from this point we’re already seeing some pretty weird forms of comedy. Luis clearly then appears to him because he wants to offer him a ‘job’ that is one that involves stealing, and it’s at this moment that we learn, early on that Scott has a daughter to take care of, and it’s also established that everything that he will do, will be for the good of his daughter. From this point we see him trying to live the life of an ordinary person, going between different jobs, but continually losing them due to his criminal record, it’s through these failures that we start to see him as a victim.
We follow Scott to his ex wife’s house, in which he decides to go and see his daughter despite the clear fact that he is not allowed to. This both establishes that he cares enough for his daughter to bend rules as well as the fact that he is willing to break rules in general, which is interesting because it kind of makes us brand him as a morally grey character. It almost makes us wonder if he would make the right choice if it were a difficult one, in which if many lives outweighed the few, which included his daughter, but of course we could think the same for any other father, who would choose their child’s life in a heartbeat, and that’s the kind of connection that the audience has with the character. So, when he sees his daughter, his ex (Maggie Greer) tells him that he still needs to get a job, and we are introduced to the step father (Bobby Cannavale) who doesn’t seem to be that bad of a guy, but obviously the fact that he is a cop is what makes it interesting and emotionally challenging for Scott’s daughter, due to the fact that she has two fathers who are on opposite sides of the law, despite the fact that she would choose her biological dad over her step dad, she would obviously still care for her step dad. So when Scott sees her, he gives her a present and his ex-wife also says to him that he simply needs to be the hero that his daughter already thinks that he is, and this in a way has an interesting double meaning, due to the fact that he ends up being a hero of sorts towards the end of the film. And the message of a father trying to become the hero that he has, in a sense, earned the title of from his daughter, is similar to the kind of battle that a father would usually have to face, maybe not through actually being a hero but by simply being kind to them, and taking them on days out to emotionally connect with them, which, in the end, is what Scott really wants.
We're then introduced to the villain of the film, alongside a man that we recognise quite clearly from the opening sequence of the film, simply from his voice. So it's through Hank (now played by Michael Douglas) that we realise that he lost his company to this potential villain, which would help to portray Hank as a victim, as we thought before. It's pretty clear who the villain is through the fact that the guy giving the demonstration in this scene, Darren (Corey Stall) seem obsessed with the concept of warfare and the potential profit to gain from this. And when someone has a concern for the idea, it becomes very clear when he 'disposes' of him. So we early on, see the motive of this character, and that’s the fact that he can gain a huge profit form this and his clear end goal is to just earn a lot of money, and it seems as if it is money that has driven him away from the original purpose of this tech that Hank clearly created it for.
So it's pretty easy to understand the characters of Scott Lang and Darren Cross as hero and villain. And as for Hank, when we see the backstory of his company, we also start to understand him from early on. We find out that he tested Scott in order to find out if he was good enough to pull off a job for him. What’s interesting is the fact that Hank knew that Scott would take the opportunity to steal something, it’s almost as if he knows Scott before he even meets him, through the fact that he understands what it’s like to do what you need to in order to protect those that you care for and to be there for them. So we understand from the start, what kind of character Hank is, clearly he's a man who just wants to protect the projects that he cares about and the people that he cares about. He also sees himself in Scott as well as Darren, which is an interesting dynamic in personalities, similar to the fact that Scott and his daughter’s step father are on opposite sides of the law, except here, it’s the simple fact that they’re on opposite sides of morality; whilst Scott does steal things, he does have a line, and that is that he never has any intention of hurting anyone, whereas it’s clear that the character of Darren will do whatever it takes for him to achieve his goal of gaining money and power. Hank also hints a bit more about his past when he tells Scott about how if he tampered with the suit, then he would lose everything that he ever loved, it also kind of has the deeper meaning that he just needs to be careful in general or he can easily lose what he cares about. This is due to us finding out about the loss that Hank experienced when he lost his wife, so we get a hint at his backstory further and a small look at the loss that he felt on the day that he lost her.
What’s also interesting is the 'shades of parenting' that we see in this film. This is shown through Hank and the fact that he sends his daughter (Evangeline Lilly) to boarding school, to start with in one of these scenes. We first see it from the daughter’s perspective as a father’s selfish action in order to cope with his loss in his own way whilst not considering how it would affect his daughter. Soon after we also learn that he was just trying to find a way to bring her mother back through research into the way that she disappeared forever. This sends an interesting message to daughters, as it tells them that they should consider how a father feels before they judge them. This would also go both ways in a relationship such as this though as, of course, a father should also understand a daughter before judging them in certain situations, such as when they are struggling in school, and it’s through difficult transitions there that they are struggling, this would be assumed through the woman in this film who, as a girl, was forced to go to boarding school and would have to deal with this kind of transition.
We also see how desperately Scott wants to see his daughter through the fact that he becomes this hero by commanding the Ants, not because he wants to, but because he wants to see his daughter, and it’s through this, that he was able to have the power to control them, and that emphasises the fact that the theme of forming a powerful father daughter relationship is strong in this film. And this is also through Hank telling his daughter (or implying) that he doesn’t want to lose his daughter too, which is why he won’t let her be in the Ant Man suit. What’s also interesting is the fact that at the time that Hank sent his daughter to boarding school, he was probably still working with the company that he was kicked out of. The fact that he is no longer working with this company, means he feels he is better off in terms of being a better father, and this is quite possibly the message of this film, that you’re better off having your family there for you, than having all the security that money could buy for you, because you don’t pay security to love you or share their feelings or lives with yours.
The strongest moment of the film for me in terms of having father daughter moments though, is the moment in which Scott is forced to put himself in a situation in which he has to shrink between atoms. This is meant to be something that nobody can come back from, and that is what makes it even better, when Scott manages to fight this and stop this from happening to him, through his love for his daughter, that he has the will to fight for his life and that’s the most valuable moment in which you can see what a father would do for his daughter.
Its not just the father-daughter theme that makes this film enjoyable however, there’s also a strong comedy element to it, as well as the terrific use of the music to bring across the main character’s ‘power’ in the best way possible. One of the parts of the film that I really enjoyed was the scenes in which Scott is training and keeps scaring himself over the littlest things (pun intended) and as a result, making himself big again. Another bit that really made me laugh is when Scott says that he is ‘done breaking into places and stealing shit’ before finding out that the job he is now being given, involves ‘breaking into a place and stealing some shit’ as said in Hank’s words, which is definitely one of the funniest quotes of the film. And then there’s the music, this is done perfectly as it is fast paced to match the speed of an Ant as well as having a light beat to fit the lack of impact that an ant’s steps would make on the ground.
So overall, with the mix of strong family themes, and a fun and relatable character, it’s pretty clear that this aspect of the franchise has huge potential, so I cannot wait to see Ant-Man appear in Infinity War.
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Images - IMDb