3 Stars — Thoughtful

The Walt Disney Studios has a rich history of creating and showcasing its own comic genius. Thus, the studio made a wise financial decision 20 years ago when it bought Marvel Studios and acquired its stable of heroes, ranging from X-Men and The Avengers, to Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man.

Collectively, these engaging characters bring in a gross revenue of close to $1 billion a year in addition to the $47 billion all of the other Disney financial streams that result from theme parks, movies, cruises, Broadway shows and television networks.

Now comes Marvel’s Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man), an aimless boy in search of his manhood who discovers along the way that he has been chosen to save the world by wearing a specially made suit that allows him to be shrunk to ant-size or brought back to full size in the flash of an instant.

The creator of the suit is Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a brilliant scientist whose secret is now being exploited and sold to the highest bidder by his former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).

The story of Ant-Man follows the common-hero comic book theme in which greedy bad guys try to control the world to exploit the gullible in order to become rich and powerful. Dr. Pym, having realized he was being out-maneuvered by this former student, now finds himself put out to pasture from his own company.

Still in the company, though, is his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who has an on-again/off-again relationship with the devious former protégé.

Following a predictable plot, Dr. Pym seduces Scott Lang into becoming Ant-Man, convinces him and his equally hapless friends that they have a purpose in life, introduces Scott to his daughter, who has now “seen the light” about how evil her boyfriend is, and together they all save the world, ending in Scott and the doctor’s daughter falling in love.

Despite its predictability, director Payton Reed has crafted together an enjoyable repartee between the players, an entertaining story and great music by none other than Adam Ant!

Like many comic book figures, the story of Ant-Man portrays how an ordinary person is capable of doing extraordinary things, perhaps even saving earth from destruction. Good and evil are clearly portrayed, the good guys are attractive and the bad guys are villainous in appearance, and love wins out in the end. This is a modern day morality play with a happy ending.

The challenging question is, what would we do in the same situation? Are we called into action when we least expect it, and do we heed the call? Rarely do people step up to be heroes. However, it is often a title given to someone who thought they were just doing their job.

Ant-Man is a good reminder to adults that opportunities for greatness might be closer than we think. It is also a great motivator for young people who more often than not mimic the behavior of the heroes they see bigger than life on the screen.

If we want to portray stories to the next generation about truth and virtue, I’ll take Ant-Man over James Bond and Rambo any day of the week.


» The ability of the Marvel characters to lift the imaginations of a normal person to hero status speaks to most of us. If you could be a hero, what kind of hero would you be and what evil would you defeat?

» It is unlikely that science would find a way to harness the power of the ant, but if it did, do you think that power rests in the individual or the collective? Why isn’t this about the “Ant-people”?

» Love makes us both foolish and wise. In this film we see both. How has love operated in your life?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.