Winning Wasp and peak Paul Rudd: 6 reasons 'Ant-Man' has legs

Commentary: The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is fun to the final stinger. CNET's Kelsey Adams shares her favorite parts of the picnic and lets the spoilers fly.

Kelsey Adams Senior copy editor / Reviews
CNET senior copy editor and contributor Kelsey Adams was raised by computer programmers and writers, so she communicates best by keyboard. Loves genre fiction, RPGs, action movies; has long, fraught relationship with comics. Come talk to her on Twitter.
Kelsey Adams
4 min read

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If you're looking for a "="" my="" cnet="" colleague="" rich="" trenholm"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="78ea754a-bf1b-482c-869e-401e2c6efc55" slug="honey-i-shrunk-the-superhero-ant-man-is-a-bite-size-delight-review" link-text="spoiler-free review of " section="news" title="Honey, I shrunk the superhero: 'Ant-Man' is a bite-size delight (review)" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"78ea754a-bf1b-482c-869e-401e2c6efc55","slug":"honey-i-shrunk-the-superhero-ant-man-is-a-bite-size-delight-review","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> has you covered. After he gave us more of his views on the most recent CraveCast, I finally got a chance to see the movie myself, so if you have too, let's talk!

I agree with Rich, Rotten Tomatoes and the world that it's a really enjoyable movie. I do take issue with the slogan "Heroes don't get any bigger" because on the scale of superhero conflicts this story is on the small side. The movie is mostly a series of heist plans and training montages (that's not a criticism -- it's like saying a menu is mostly fries and ice cream! I'm there!) and protagonist Scott Lang is, if not a normal guy, relatively close to one, and he takes the risks he takes for mostly personal reasons.

That's part of the appeal. I'm a big fan of Chris Evans' Captain America and the other Avengers, but it's fun to take a break and see someone who's less obviously heroic but still out there getting it done.

Anyway, in honor of the six-legged dirt-excavating monsters the movie tried to make seem adorable, here are six things I dug about "Ant-Man."

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1. We get to see Scott being a really good cat burglar. He gets a bit of an "amiable loser" intro, but when he finally breaks down and agrees to do a job, suddenly it's all gymnastic wall-scaling and improvisational high-tech safe-cracking. Awesome. When introducing a hero, it helps to show, not just tell, the audience that he's good at what he does (I've been looking for that in movies ever since the Ben Affleck "Daredevil." He's a bad lawyer and an ineffective superhero? Great, I'm really invested.) Give us a moment of "What a guy!" pretty early on -- though here they saved it for late enough so that it's a bit of a surprise as well. Nicely played.

2. Paul Rudd, aimed just right. Rudd's got that bland Simon the Likeable charm that means he can come off a bit creepy and too good to be true in some roles, but Scott is flawed enough and tired enough that Rudd's aging-college-boy face is just right. We get to hear his friends brag about all the swagger he used to have, but we don't have to listen to him do it himself; he's past that by the time we meet him. Perfectly balanced, peak Paul Rudd deployment.

3. The villain knew about our heroes' plan all along -- and that makes sense. Sometimes that trope can seem cheaty, but here, it's pretty reasonable: If Darren Cross wants to get the suit from Scott, what could be more efficient than letting him break in and corking the bottle? (Assuming you don't mind your guards getting hurt, but of course Cross doesn't, being a villainous villain.) And the audience knows it's coming from the moment we see Cross standing in Hank's living room, even if our heroes are still in denial, so we've got the suspense of wondering what will go wrong.

4. How cool was Wasp, if only for a minute? I've been enjoying her cheerful amorousness in the classic comics, but she made a striking silent hero. Like Kirk's dad in the first "Star Trek" reboot, hers is the kind of brief death scene that stays with you through the whole story, the character whose loss was a triumph.

5. And her legacy, Hope's suit. That could have been creepy and sad, if they'd handled it differently. Here you go, daughter; here's your mother's shroud that I've been bitterly saving in mothballs all these years. Wrap yourself in this cobwebbed relic of my wife and try to become her for me. Yeah, that could have come off wrong.

Instead, the way the suit was lighted and posed -- wings out, hands out -- it was a clear symbol of life and growth and, well, hope. Hank's too late to give his daughter the affection she needed as a kid, but now he's giving her the respect and trust she wants as an adult, allowing her to build her powers and risk her life. That's beautiful. (And more daring given that we've seen her show some darkness. Has he even made the right call? We don't know. Life is risk.)

Heeey, Hank had to accept that his wife shrank and his daughter grew. There's an elevator pitch for you.


Ahem. Yeah, somehow I managed to avoid being spoiled for that before going into the movie. Thanks for not mentioning that, Rich! Sorry for the loud whooping, other people who were in the theater with me! I've been waiting to see Falcon again since "Winter Soldier" and it's a long, long wait until "Civil War" so thank you for throwing us that bone, "Ant-Man," very sincerely. And the final clip after the credits. Guess the reunion won't involve too many group hugs after all.

You're wondering why I haven't mentioned Michael Peña and his character's cute expository sequences. Had to leave something for you, didn't I? What did you think of the movie?

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