After being picked up from prison by his friend Luis, Scott Lang believes that he will be up on his feet in no time. After serving time for a Robin Hood like crime, Lang wants nothing more than to be with his daughter, clean of any and all crime. Less optimistic than Lang, Luis reminds his friend and former cell-mate that “jobs don’t come easy for ex-cons.” And how could they?
An issue that Marvel’s "Ant-Man" tackles is we as a society have a hard time forgiving ex-cons; losing sight of progression, our society would rather have an under-qualified worker with a clean record than give a second chance to an ex-con who could be better suited for the job. Marvel’s "Ant-Man" not only points out this problem, but proves to the audience that what really matters isn’t whatever label we have associated with us but rather who we are becoming that defines us.
The two characters who exemplify this are Scott Lang and Darren Cross.
1. Scott Lang
Lang, briefly introduced earlier, struggles keeping a job after his release from prison because of his history as an ex-con. Employers look down on him because of his tendency to turn to crime, when all he wants is to provide the right type of life for his daughter. Lang falsifies a record as an act of desperation to be kept on working minimum wage for Baskin Robbins. Ultimately, he is caught because “Baskin Robbins always finds out,” and he is fired despite being a “good worker.”
Discouraged that he can’t keep work, and becoming further distanced from his family (specifically his daughter, Cassie), Lang resorts to crime, just as he always does when life gets too hard. Despite being a highly skilled burglar, Lang is caught and arrested for the robbery. Intervening with the detrimental regression of leading a life of crime, Dr. Hank Pym helps Lang by providing a way for him to hone Lang’s skills, and provide a life that would earn in his daughter’s eyes the title of “hero.”
2. Darren Cross
Darren Cross had everything going for him, or so it seemed. Highly qualified to be Pym’s pupil, he only wanted the respect of his mentor; irritated that Cross was too much like himself , Pym never respected Cross. Because a lot of the research Pym had done was hidden away, Cross became irritated and frustrated that Pym never respected him, so Cross worked even harder.
Driving Pym out of Pym Tech, the company both Cross and Pym worked for, Cross created a plan that would have to impress his mentor; he would make Pym Tech (Pym’s company) the most profitable company in the world by developing a shrinking suit, undetectable, and mass produce it to completely revolutionize warfare.
Hard work doesn’t pay off for Cross because of Cross’s intentions. He didn’t care if terrorists were buying his suits and technology because the profits that would be coming in would far outweigh whatever chaos was introduced, and the profits should impress his mentor.
To the public Lang is labeled as a criminal, and Cross could be considered an innovator, the audience learns that the intentions are more important than the labels by subtle hints and cinematographic tricks.
First, we see Lang’s desire to change. After being kicked out of his daughter's birthday party, Lang is told that in order to see Cassie, he needs to pay child support, get a job and an apartment. According to his calculations, in order to do that, he would be working for over a year before he could see his daughter again.
The audience sees in Lang his love for his daughter, and desperation to be with his daughter when it shows him looking at a list of things he needs to accomplish, and an estimated amount of days in order to accomplish those tasks. The scene is shot in the dark of night, while Lang is sitting alone in a car. He notes that, according to his calculations, he would have to wait over a year before he could see and spend time with Cassie. Frustrated by his wait time, Lang looks away from the future, determined to find a way to spend time with his daughter.
Dr. Pym sees the sincerity of Lang, and his desire to change, and provides with him a way to prove that he is heroic; Pym trains Lang to be a superhero by having him hone his skills as a burglar, and providing cutting edge technology that enables him to use the skills he has as a thief to bring about good deeds in the world.
In the end, in a very entertaining and real way, Marvel’s Ant-Man shows that labels don’t speak louder than actions; the renowned scientist is the villain to the heroic criminal. Perhaps, the criminals that society has a hard time giving jobs to could be successful to society if provided ways to hone their skills. It was the heroism that cleared Lang’s name and enabled him to have a life with his daughter. Ultimately, Ant-Man emphasizes that life is really all about progression, and encourages its watcher to believe that people can change when the individual takes advantage of that opportunity.