Ant-Man

 

            There are those who will claim that one thing this culture doesn’t need is yet another comic book hero.  But “Ant-Man” is the kind of creation that will fire the imagination of many, because this is a well-put-together story of fanciful intrigue.

            Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an ex-con who’s just released, determined to put his life back in order.  His wife has left him, but their young daughter still adores him, and he’s determined to be there for her as much as he can, despite the fact that the ex-wife’s new husband has nothing but disdain for him.

            And lately it’s not been easy to like himself very much, either.  After several unsuccessful attempts to land a job in his “real” field, electrical engineering, Scott Lang is forced to work behind the counter at a Baskin-Robbins, because that’s the only place that will hire him, and even then, once his past is discovered, he’s still summarily fired.  Even though his crime was to be a modern-day Robin Hood, hacking the computer system of an unfeeling insurance conglomerate, and rewarding the hapless denied claimants, still, to the world, he’s just another lying ex-con.

            Ah, but not to Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).  Dr. Pym is retired now; forced out of his own company by the combined efforts of his protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) and his estranged daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly).  Dr. Pym had perfected an atom-shifting formula (hey, this is still Marvel Comics) that would shrink a man to ant size, but still retain the strength and faculties of a grown man, besides being able to telepathically communicate with the ants, and enlist them as allies.  Dr. Pym was worried, correctly, that this technology would fall in the wrong hands and be used for weaponry, but Darren Cross has no such compunction; working on a similar formula, he’s determined to sell it to the highest bidder, regardless of their intentions.

            So Dr. Pym is forced to resort to recruiting Scott Lang for hacking and breaking and entering and stealing, all in the name of saving the world from its own lust for power.  Along the way, Hope realizes her mistaken allegiance, and there’s just a bare hint of romance between her and Scott.  Also, to ameliorate the fanciful CGI action on the screen, there’s intermittent humor, and a kind of determined light-hearted touch, deftly done by Director Peyton Reed.

            Michael Douglas provides just the right amount of gravitas to make this thing believable, even on a comic book level.  Sure, it’s not for everyone (non-aficionados will be bewildered by the references to other Marvel comic characters).  But this story stands alone, if for no other reason that it’s really about redemption.

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas