Pardon me for not initially warming up to the idea of Marvel’s latest comic superhero to hit the screen: “Ant-Man.”
I suppose on one level it makes sense. After all, ants are the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the insect world. One time I watched one carry away a potato chip, and I’m not talking about a broken shard of a Pringle. This guy singlehandedly carried off one of those thick-cut Wavy Lays. An entire chip.
Of course, my visceral reaction at the time was to hope it got lodged in his thorax — it cast a pall on my picnic, after all — but on the drive home I began to imagine that once Anthony (which is how I refer to him in my dramatic retellings) wrestled it underground he was revered as a hero, so I take pride in being a part of that.
Former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) knows that pride. He developed the technology to compress the unused area in molecules to shrink things. Kind of like when you sit on a suitcase containing a Hilton robe and one of those super-comfortable hypoallergenic pillows to get it to close. (Don’t judge me.)
That technology is harnessed in Pym’s Ant-Man suit, secreted away from the exploitative clutches of one-time protege Darren Cross (“House of Cards'” Corey Stoll). Cross is hard at work on his own permutation, the Yellowjacket, so Pym enlists a petty crook named Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and a cadre of obedient formicidae to kick some gaster. (Look it up, it’s totally worth it. I’ll wait.)
I’ve complained in the past of superhero fatigue, that the currency of the Marvel/DC offerings has been seriously devalued. But “Ant-Man” is a different breed. With likable Paul Rudd (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Role Models”) as the lead and bankable Michael Douglas as his handler, this one doesn’t make the mistake of taking itself too serious.
From cohort Michael Pena whistling “It’s a Small World” to an epic battle on a Thomas the Tank toy train, this one has lots of crossover appeal. (Pena’s “tip montages” are especially entertaining and clever.)
There’s also a running, sometimes-forced theme of redemption. Pym to his estranged daughter Hope and Lang to his little girl Cassie; both women, it’s hinted, have larger roles in a sequel. I “c’ant” wait!