Ant-Man (And What Life Is Really About)

Marvel's Ant Man

Since I am doing research for the Marvel book, I happily trotted off to see ANT-MAN in theatres last week.

(Yes, it is research. Shush. I have a good job.)

Considered the riskiest Marvel film since GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, ANT-MAN is not a big story a la AGE OF ULTRON. Watching it put me in mind of the earlier MCU films, like the first THOR or IRON MAN or even the early SPIDER-MAN films Sam Raimi did. Maybe because it’s an origin film (sort of) or maybe because the whole thing just feels smaller stakes.

Yes, I know, it would be distastrous if tdisastrous won, but somehow that threat doesn’t seem as real here as it does in the Avengers films. To me, the bad guy and the movie’s climactic fight felt obligatory and almost beside the point.

See, ANT-MAN isn’t really about a guy trying to save the world from an evil villain. It’s actually about relationships, specifically father-daughter and mentor-apprentice relationships. Although the movie is named after one guy and is ostensibly a stand-alone hero film, it’s really about a team: the trio of Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man and inventor of the technology that makes shrinking possible), his mostly estranged daughter Hope, and Scott Lang, who Hank has picked to wear the Ant-Man suit.

(This suits me fine. I don’t like movies about lone wolves. When I first saw MISSION IMPOSSIBLE as a kid, I LOVED it for the first five minutes — until they killed off the whole spy team and the movie became about Tom Cruise doing whatever crazy things he does in it, at which point I lost interest and spent the whole film annoyed that they’d killed off all the relationships. Give me a team movie every time.)

Marvel's Ant-Man

The “estranged” part is important, because not only is this a film about relationships, it’s a film about reconciliation. Scott isn’t allowed to see his own daughter, Cassie, until he leaves his life of crime behind and starts paying child support. And Hank and Hope may be working to stop an egotistical maniac from destroying the world, but they’re working just as hard to find each other again after decades of resentment and pain.

Even Darren Cross, the villain, has a backstory that’s largely about broken relationship. (If you want spiritual parallels, compare Cross’s downfall to the classic story of Satan’s pride. It’s interesting.)

It was the relationships I really cared about in this movie. I loved the characters and wanted to see them all find their way home to each other. All that stuff about defeating the villain? Important, yeah; necessary, yeah; but the real story was always about broken relationships being healed. Being “redeemed,” to use Hank Pym’s term.

And that’s where I saw the biggest links between this film and our lives, the links I’ll probably write about for the Marvel book. We are in a real war, yes. There is a real villain and real stakes. But ultimately, our battle is already won. Jesus has defeated the enemy. We are walking out that victory “until his enemies be made his footstool,” but in so many ways, beating the villain isn’t really the point.

The point is reconciling broken relationships.

The point is bringing children back to the Father.

The point is redemption.

Our story might look like a war epic, but in the end it’s about the reconciliation of individuals who were meant to love one another deeply and live in a relationship of trust and wholeness. I’m glad to report that ANT-MAN’s story has a happy ending. Just as, it turns out, does ours.


Marvel's Ant-Man







One response to “Ant-Man (And What Life Is Really About)”

  1. Naomi Avatar

    Good stuff. 🙂

    I also had a takeaway from this movie- I always get anxious and wonder how the good guys are going to win when things get super anx’ty and difficult at the climax… But I know the good guys will win. In fact, I have soldiered through many a movie that I found terrifying for the sole purpose of seeing the good guys win and having that closure at the end.

    Much like my life, I thought. How often I worry and wonder how the good will win in this world, when darkness seems to be gaining its strength… But we press on in faith. Not because we can see it yet, but because we know that Jesus wins in the end. “Do not fear…” Our Lord’s command came to me in my theater seat for this movie. 🙂 ‘Twas a good and needed reminder.

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