Lesser-known Marvel hero looms large in a different kind of superhero film 

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While other Marvel Comics movies are getting more cosmic, Ant-Man gets it right by going small and personal.

Guardians of the Galaxy was a bona fide hit, and rightly so. Though the actors in the film weren’t unknowns, the characters meant nothing to anyone besides hardcore comic book fans.

That’s the challenge for Ant-Man, in which Paul Rudd (Wet Hot American Summer, every other movie you’ve ever seen) plays Scott Lang, a recently paroled felon who wants to go straight for his daughter.

Standing in his way: The Man. It turns out that it’s hard for an ex-con to find a good job, or any job, which leads him back to his cat burgling ways at the mansion of rich industrialist Hank Pym.

In the comics, Pym was the original Ant-Man and a founding member of The Avengers. (He actually joined the team before Captain America.) Here, played by Michael Douglas, he’s a man who left the defense industry when he found they were trying to hijack his research for military means.

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With his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly, Lost), Pym wants to recruit Lang to help him steal his research back from a somewhat deranged scientist — played with demented intensity by Corey Stoll (House of Cards, Law & Order: LA) — who took over the company.

The strength of the film is that it largely gets away from super-heroics and focuses on one of America’s most-beloved movie genres: the heist flick.

As often happens, Lang is the least-interesting character in the bunch, with shining comic performances from David Dastmalchian, T.I. and Michael Peña as Luis, who nearly steals the whole movie.

Much has been made of the exit of original director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), but while I’m sure he would have turned in an excellent film, Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) handled the comedy well, and the action was fun and easy to follow.

Ant-Man might not rise to the level of some of the earlier Marvel films like Iron Man and The Avengers, but it’s still much better than Iron Man 2, which was, seriously, kind of awful. Fans of the interconnected universe will be happy to see a few familiar faces from other franchises pop up here and there, as well.

It might not be a can’t-miss film, but if you need a fairly laid-back action flick with above-average comedy chops, Ant-Man comes through big where it counts.

Print headline: Get small. One of Marvel’s more obscure heroes looms large in a different kind of superhero film.

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