If you’re a comic book fan, which I am, one of the questions you may have had with the cinematic success of the various Avengers films is, “Where’s Hank Pym?” In the comics, he was a founding member of the team. Not only has he been ignored up to now, some of his story has been given to other characters. For example, in the comics, Pym created the robotic menace Ultron. Now, as I said in my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, that change actually made a lot of sense, but still, no love for a founding Avenger? Two, actually, as the Wasp was not only another founder, but she named the team. Well, those omissions are finally addressed in Ant-Man.
Even as a diehard comic fan, I will concede you need to make a lot of changes to Pym’s history to make sense in a movie. In the comics, he’s had at least 5 costumed identities, gone to prison, lost two wives, and had at least three nervous breakdowns. That’s a lot to cover.
So, they streamlined a lot for the movie. And, since most people don’t take shrinking heroes seriously, they made this one more in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy, than, say, Winter Soldier. I don’t think it was one of Marvel’s best efforts, but it was a very entertaining movie, and let’s face it, things like Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Winter Soldier set the bar very, very high.
In the movie, as you no doubt know if you’ve seen the many, many commercials, Pym wants Scott Lang, a mechanical engineer fallen on hard times and just out of prison, to steal something for him. In the comics, Lang steals the Ant-Man suit before eventually getting Pym’s permission to use it and becoming not only a hero, but an Avenger. Scott’s first appearance in the comics is actually as a Stark employee, updating the security systems at Avengers Mansion.
The movie has a villain (of course), Darren Cross, who eventually becomes Yellowjacket and fights Ant-Man. Yellowjacket, in the comics, is yet another of Pym’s identities. There are some very clever uses of the shrinking powers, some family drama (what ever happened to the Wasp, anyway?), and some comedy sidekicks for Scott.
There are some great tie-ins to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. I won’t spoil them all, but we do see early SHIELD, at least one Avenger, and references to Stark-tech all over. There are two end scenes, so, as always, stay for the very end. Really, you should know that about Marvel movies by now without me telling you.
What I liked: They handled the Pym as creator, Lang as current hero very well. The humor was decent but not over done. They got very clever with some of the power uses, and the tie-ins to the rest of the Cinematic Marvel Universe were nicely done. The end scenes were great and hinted at more things to come. The scene with the other Avenger was nicely done, showing merits for both characters. The de-aging effect of making Douglas look about 20 in one scene was amazingly well done.
What I didn’t: I’m not wild about created characters for movies, and they do that here. There are a lot of characters in the Avengers mythos, and Pym’s own for that matter, they could have used. Evangeline Lilly did a great job with the role, I’m not slamming her. I just didn’t see the need. And the group of comedy sidekicks could have been cut, or trimmed down to just Michael Pena’s Luis.
Overall, I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5. It was fun. Not great, but fun. I enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing more development of the Marvel Universe. Now if they’d just get to Moon Knight somewhere….
As an added bit, I am including below a list of characters, who they were in the movie vs the comics.
Character Movie Comics
Hank Pym Ant-Man I founding Avenger, Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Wasp II
Scott Lang Ant-Man II Ant-Man II, later an Avenger
Hope Van Dyne Hank’s daughter nope
Darren Cross Yellowjacket Ant-Man villain, cousin to Crossfire, one of Hawkeye’s few villains
Janet Van Dyne-Pym Wasp Founding (and namer of) Avenger, Wasp
Cassie Lang Scott’s daughter Scott’s daughter, later Stature (Young Avengers)