Ant-Man is the Marvel movie I never knew I wanted. When it was first announced, I audibly groaned. While I do appreciate the character within the Avengers, I've never been a huge fan of any incarnation of the insect-controlling hero. This movie, coupled with the fantastic comic series by Nick Spencer, changed that.
This is probably the first of the Marvel movies I wasn't very excited to see since they begin producing their own movies. And it was largely because the early news on the film was that it was going to be a comedic heist film, with Paul Rudd, of all people, as the lead. It just didn't fit in with the image I had come to expect from Marvel Studios films. Thankfully, my prejudice against the film was slowly eaten away as more and more footage was released. By the time the movie actually came out, I was quite excited to see it.
Going into the film for the first time in the theater, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew that at least parts of it would be fun. What I was met with was utter surprise at my enjoyment of the film. Yes, there was humor, but it was well balanced with heroism, romance, action and drama. It had a bit more of a comedic bent to it than other Marvel films, but it suited the character of Scott Lang perfectly. And his performance, which could have been overdone, was spot on and equally measured against the more serious backdrop.
Ant-Man is a superhero film, and a funny one at that. But at the heart of it, it's a film of redemption, family and legacy. Watching it for the second time via Digital Release only supported that statement and solidified it in my mind. From the flawed character of Scott Lang and his struggle to do right by his daughter, to the shaky relationship between Lang and, well, everyone in the film, Ant-Man is wrought with heartfelt emotion and quite impressive visual effects.
Evangeline Lily impressed as the daughter of the original Ant-Man and Wasp, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. And with teases that she will become the new Wasp to Lang's Ant-Man, one can only squee with glee a bit at the notion of seeing a version of the pair on screen. And that was another unexpected treat in the film, seeing Hank and Janet in full costume before the fate that befell Janet.
Using one of Pym's comic alter-egos, the Yellowjacket as the villain was pure genius as well, giving Scott a villain of equal abilities if not equal skill. And Corey Stoll's performance as Darren Cross - a name we've seen in the comics of late as well - was brilliant with the obvious, but well-paced descent into antagonist.
I could go on and on about the casting, the plot, the pacing, etc. for paragraph after paragraph. Allow me to sum it up like this: No movie is perfect, and every Marvel movie certainly has its flaws, this one included. But the merits of the film far outweigh any nitpicks I might have. What I was left with was a fun, action-packed, humorous tale of a father trying to get his life back on track for his daughter, while saving the day from a maniacal megalomaniac. In the end, Lang got that redemption in spades, repaired old relationships, forged new ones, and got a second chance in life. It was an uplifting side story set in the Marvel Universe that left implications for the grander stage. In that, this film was everything I could have wanted it to be.
My personal best Digital/Blu-Ray release of 2015 was Ant-Man merely for the fact that I enjoyed the film so much more than I expected upon first viewing that I couldn't wait to see it again. Now that I have, I am glad to have it in my collection, and fully intend on watching it many more times to come.