Every single Marvel origin story is exactly the same. Every one. Though, the Marvel abracadabra is how they can consistently find a way to remake the same story to give it its own unique flavor. Ant-Man is another notch on the bedpost of “all Marvel films are the same”. Since it is a Marvel origin, it is beat for beat the same as the others with the twist being that Hank Pym is actually the main character instead of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). On the surface level, it is a generic blockbuster as far as plot progression and character arc, but beyond that, it is a fun, competent, and sleek heist picture with heart and humor. What is the breaking point for retelling the same story?
Ant-Man focuses on a guy who is just trying to do the best he can in an ever changing world. He is an average schlub with huge potential but doesn’t realize it. This is almost exactly every Marvel story with a few exceptions here and there. The draw is that Scott is a very likable character. You understand his motivations, and his motivations are just to help/see his daughter. It’s something we can relate to, and it’s a grounded motivation that isn’t just “save the world, because it’s the right thing to do.” Scott Lang is the Marty McFly of the MCU. He is the true fish out of water. It’s actually kind of refreshing, but it took a real long time to get to real human character that wasn’t a supporting player. One of my favorite lines in the entire Marvel franchise is after Hank explains the situation they are in, Scott responds by saying “I think we should call the Avengers.”
So the film opens on Hank Pym, and I think this was to (secretly) establish that Hank is the main character and not Scott. Sure, Scott gets the center piece on the poster, Paul Rudd gets top billing, and he has the biggest arc, but he is the catalyst for the story rather than being the center of it. Scott’s motivation is just to see his daughter Cassie, but the central plot revolves around Hank Pym. Hank sees ingenuity, righteousness, and potential in Scott, so Scott is the tool of Hank. Not to mention that he uses Scott over Hope because Scott is more expendable than Hope. It’s another redemption story, but it is for Hank and Scott instead of just one character.
So, beat for beat, it’s nothing new story wise, but the consequences of failure aren’t the end of the world, so we get a small story, no pun intended. The heist is a good gimmick because it offers something beyond the hero just being strong and pure of heart. We get an actual plan and a team working together. It’s a mentally stimulating film, even though it’s silly. Silly doesn’t always mean bad though. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it treats the titular character like it’s a member of the audience. It gives us a break from the overly serious plots and delivers cinematic food for the soul. It also does so with a kick-ass theme.
Sure, every Marvel film is the same, but if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it (Ant-Man reference). This is Marvel’s first foray into average Joe learns to be a superhero, and it plays like Back to the Future, which I love, especially with the relationship between the Ant-Men. It has a nice subversive twist where the mentor is the focal point of the story, and the underling is the heart that keeps it grounded in the real world. It’s a nice ensemble where we see a team of misfits band together to just steal some stuff, and everybody gets a chance to shine. It does suffer from generic villain, even though Corey Stoll does give a very convincing and intense performance, and some awkward jokes, but it’s another good entry in the everlasting Marvel cannon, and shows that the same story has plenty of variation in which it is being told.