The most recent establishment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant Man, proved a couple of points. First, Ant Man reinforced the fact that Marvel Studios can make a film about any of their “B” list characters and it can end up being a pretty decent film. Marvel first proved this point with the success of Guardians of the Galaxy which followed the adventure of an obscure intergalactic superhero team from the 70s. I have been reading comic books for a long time and I had never heard of this team before, and when I found out that one of the main characters was a talking raccoon, I had no idea what to expect.
This time around, however, Marvel whipped out a tale about a man who can shrink. That’s right folks, he can shrink–and he can return to his normal size as well. When Marvel originally announced they were working on an Ant Man film, I had no expectations for it. I mean, who wants to spend money to go watch a two hour long film about a guy whose only ability is to shrink? However, they won me over to go see it in theaters with the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. (Plus my little brother wanted to go see it.)
Although the overall plot of Ant Man was predictable and the dialogue was laced with profanity, the movie did have many humorous moments. But through out all of that, there is a clear message theme. Ant Man is a film about redemption.
Ant Man proves the fact that everyone has the opportunity for a second chance. The film follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who had recently been released from prison and is now trying to prove he can be a father to his daughter. Lang is recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), to stop the sale of his body armor as a weapon to Hydra. (If you don’t know what a Hydra is then watch Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier to get caught up). Pym had developed a suit back in the 80s that could shrink; he and his wife used the suit to go on crusades battling the U.S.S.R. In the present, Pym’s designs had fallen into the hands of Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) who recreated the suit to be sold as a weapon.
Pym, who has a bad relationship with his own daughter because of unresolved wounds from the past, sees a lot of himself in Lang and gives him the opportunity to redeem himself before issues arise with his young daughter. Pym says quite dramatically, “I believe everyone deserves a second chance.” Although for most of the film it seems hopeless that Pym and Hope would reconcile, there is finally healing in their relationship. By the end of the movie Lang is no longer cast out from his ex-wife’s home where his daughter lives, but is welcomed in to their lives.
So I tip my hat to Marvel Studios for not only making a “B” list superhero actually entertaining, but also for giving this summer action film a redemptive message. Through the excitement of watching Ant Man battle a supervillain and even a superhero, we get to see a man redeem himself to be the hero his young daughter needs him to be. Forget the fact that Lang is wearing a suit, she needs her father, and he gets to be in her life by the end of the movie. We get to see Lang’s friends, a bunch of hackers, help Lang and Pym prevent the sale of the suit to Hydra. Even one of Lang’s friends points out that it feels weird being the good guy for once. Ultimately we see Hank Pym and his daughter, Hope, after years of tension and hurt, heal from the resentment and pain.
Everyone deserves a second chance. Superheroes and hackers, scientists and fathers, everyone should be able to get a second chance. Consider the fact that after years of obscurity and rejection of being an “A” list superhero, the character Ant Man gets a chance to be redeemed to be a major character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this film.
We love these types of stories because they resonate with us; we have lived this story. We know someone, or we ourselves are in need of redemption. All humans can be a part of the ultimate story of redemption. Jesus Christ’s payment on the cross for our sins to redeem man from the penalty of their sins, eternal spiritual death, is the ultimate story of redemption that every human has the opportunity to be a part of (Romans 5:8). No one is beyond redemption (John 3:16). Everyone has the chance to repent of their sins, accept Christ as their savior, and be redeemed (Romans 10:9).
But there’s more. Scripture says that Christ came to set man free from their sins (Galatians 5:1). That was a literal event that happened on the cross, but it is also a process that takes place every day. It’s called sanctification. Sanctification is the process we go through that makes us more into the image of Christ. We are fully redeemed, but we will not be fully like Christ until we are before God in glory. Until then we go through this sanctification process. We have been set freed from our sins, so now we are learning how to lay aside these sins and to run to Christ (Hebrews 12:1).
The Gospel is such a powerful message because of who is behind it. The finished work of Jesus Christ has the power to transform lives; His work can bring the spiritually dead back to life (Ephesians 2:1-5). Jesus Christ redeems us and gives us a second chance to live a life that is meaningful (John 10:10), to live a life that will be glorifying to Him. Redemption is possible, not only to the hackers and “B” list superheroes, but also to the wayward sinner, the broken family, and the collapsing marriage. The greatest redemption story was not conceived by directors, producers, and comic book writers, but by the loving God of the universe who wanted to bring His people back to Him.
Transitioning back to the movie, overall I would recommend Ant Man as a fun summer action film. That being said, I will throw a disclaimer out that there is a lot of language in the film. I am surprised by how much foul language can be included into a PG-13 film now, especially when a majority of the marketing is towards preteens and kids. For those of us who follow the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is really no rush to check this one out. There is very little effort toward continuity with the other stories. They do make mention to an event in The Avengers 2, and The Falcon shows up a couple times in the film as well, but overall the story is self-contained.
Spoiler alert: foreshadowing what is to come, Spiderman is mentioned briefly near the end, and in the after credits scene The Winter Soldier makes a reappearance.
So thank you Marvel Studios for not only putting out an entertaining movie and for making the character Ant Man actually cool, but also for reminding us that everyone has the opportunity for a second chance.
What was your favorite summer movie? What was the underlying message?