The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) took a breath of fresh air with Ant-Man. Not only was it a non-universe threatening plot, but Ant-Man brought the audience a stand alone story line absent of many cliffhangers that had been missing in the MCU since Iron Man; finally, audiences had a film whose sole intent wasn’t to set up the next movie in the franchise.
But the production of Ant-Man was a disastrous mess. Edgar Wright wrote the script and began producing the movie, but left part way through production, handing the reins to the talented director Peyton Reed (having directed other comedies and romantic comedies such as Yes Man and The Break-Up). Reed was able to transform the movie, creating a simply fun, humorous superhero movie with an underlying message of redemption and the importance of families.
Though no director was better for the job than Reed, the final draft of the film still had some holes, evidence of the damage from the hurdles Ant-Man had to leap over in order to make it onto the big screen.
The opening scene of Ant-Man is fast paced, and full of subtle, head scratching, out of context dialogue, references and characters, many of which aren't important or brought up again for the duration of the movie. In Reed’s defense, this scene could have been residue salvaged from the mess of production, but overall the movie wouldn't have lost any value if the flashback opener found its way to the behind the scenes, or was cut out entirely.
Hank Pym (a generally wise and collected Michael Douglas, but shown in the opening scene as unhinged and enraged) is hinted at being the Ant-Man by slight phrases such as “full-size,” but it really leaves the audience wondering if Pym is psychotic. Pym only gets further unraveled when Mitchell Carson, SHIELD’s head of defense (portrayed by a cunning and sly Martin Donovan) mentioning Janet, Pym’s wife. The disrespectful remark upsets Pym, and he demonstrates a sample of his ferocity before he resigns from SHIELD, and retires from being the Ant-Man.
With his resignation, Pym protects his research by promising so long as he is living, “nobody will ever get [his] formula.” In the flashback we learn little about the Pym Particle other than it's important to Pym, and that it is the “most revolutionary science ever developed,” but other than briefly introduce the audience to the Pym Particle (the science that makes the Ant-Man possible by altering the distance between atoms), we learn what's really important to Pym is family.
So, when everything is on the line, and Pym's technology is in attempts to be replicated again by Darren Cross (an unstable Corey Stoll) who plans on making profit by providing cutting edge technology to terrorists, Pym uses this opportunity to formulate a plot that will redeem not only his relationship with his daughter, Hope (portrayed by a hard, and closed off Evangeline Lilly), but also save the world from the impending chaos Cross is about to instill.
As a younger man Pym would have been able to handle this situation, but after wearing the suit for years, “it took a toll on [him]” and getting in the suit now as an older man would put him at risk. As such, Pym needs to train a new and younger Ant-Man. Some might consider his daughter, Hope, to be a perfect candidate to pick up the reigns as Ant-Man, but that would conflict with Pym's plan. Hope works closely with Cross, and needs to maintain his trust while working alongside him.
Pym is aware of a certain underachieving ex-con whose last day of prison is the first scene we see after the opening flashback scene. Guilty for committing a Robin Hood-esque crime, Scott Lang has a tendency of “returning to crime once things get hard;” this detrimental habit not only affects Lang, but it also is tearing Lang’s daughter, Cassie (the young and adorable Abby Ryder Fortson), further away from Lang. Cassie’s father’s chosen lifestyle has this concerned girl asking her mother at bedtime if “daddy [is] a bad man” (Fortson’s stellar performance as Cassie shows the audience how emotionally-excruciating a life of crime can be to the family).
After completing his criminal sentence, one thing is clear to Lang: if he chooses to continue living a life of crime, he will only lose his daughter in the process. The love of their daughters, and the fear of losing them, is one of the most notable similarities between Lang and Pym. On the subject, Pym says that it might be too late for Hope to trust and the love Pym, but that isn’t the case for Scott; “This is the chance,” Pym encourages, “to earn that look in your daughter’s eyes, to become the hero that [Cassie] already thinks you are.”
Hope desired to wear the suit, and be the hero in order to earn the respect from Pym, but Lang advises her that the reason he wears the suit rather than her is because he is expendable, and that “[Pym] would rather lose this fight, than lose [his daughter].”
Being a superhero is a selfless job. Pym teaches Lang that being a superhero isn’t “about saving our world,” contrarily Pym directs, “It’s about saving theirs,” referring to their daughter’s. During the transition from the former Ant-Man to the present, Pym teaches Lang that the reasons behind why you’re fighting are important, and that nothing is more important than family.
Scott Lang will appear as Ant-Man in other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including "Captain America: Civil War"), as well as a highly anticipated stand-alone film ("Ant-Man and The Wasp") set for release in summer 2018.