Batman. Spider-Man. Ant-Man? In the annals of superherodom, you can't always judge a superhero by his name. Same goes for the superhero movie, and Marvel's latest at first glance seems to be an odd, relatively obscure choice to continue their ongoing "Cinematic Universe" juggernaut. But Ant-Man (directed by Bring It On's Peyton Reed) defies the odds and turns out to be a fun comic book flick that (almost) makes up for the (mostly) disappointing Avengers: Age of Ultron from earlier this year.
A lot of the credit for Ant-Man's success goes to its leading man, Paul Rudd, an unlikely choice for a superhero who nonetheless embraces his alter ego and imbues him with his own offbeat humor. Rudd plays Scott Lang, a convicted cat burglar (Cat-Man?) trying to go straight who, through a ridiculously complex series of events, meets the reclusive scientific genius Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Dr. Pym (a significant figure in Marvel Comics lore) recruits Scott to take over for him as Ant-Man, a costumed crime fighter who can control his size as well as a never-ending horde of the industrious insects he gets his name from. With the reluctant aid of Pym's estranged daughter Hope van Dyne (Lost's Evangeline Lilly, unrecognizable in a black Velma Kelly wig), Team Ant-Man plots the ultimate heist: break into Pym's old tech company and steal the "Yellowjacket", another, far more lethal shrinking suit created by Pym's psycho protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll, channeling Kevin Spacey in Lex Luthor mode).
Marvel's films can be hit or miss and Ant-Man proves perfectly that to get that hit they can't take themselves too seriously. What other superhero movie has bug zappers and toy trains being used as lethal weapons? Add to that some cool crossovers (Agent Carter! An Avenger!), a bunch of nifty action sequences and Michael Peña as Rudd's hilarious homeboy sidekick and you get the popcorn movie for Summer 2015.
MD Rating: B+
Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.