Marvel’s “Ant-Man” hit theaters this weekend and seems poised to continue the studio’s hot streak.

 

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an ex-con who just wants to get his life together so he can see his daughter again. Desperate and unable to hold a job, he finds his way into the presence of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D and original Ant-Man. Pym sees something in Scott and offers him a chance to turn his life around, in exchange for Scott’s help preventing Pym’s dangerous technologies from falling into the wrong hands.

 

“Ant-Man” works for a number of reasons; first of all, it — quite literally — exists on a smaller scale than Marvel’s other recent films. We can only see so many climactic battles involving The Avengers fighting generic bad guys before the whole process becomes tiresome. This film understands that and commits to a smaller scale action, involving fewer characters but just as many stakes.

 

The cast of heroes from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) is a sci-fi superhero film of epic proportions (collider.com)

Perhaps what makes “Ant-Man” work most of all comes from its effective manipulation of the heist genre. Indeed, it feels like Danny Ocean is just as likely to pop up during this film as any one of The Avengers. With the abundance of superhero films currently flooding the market, audiences need to see something new or interesting to keep them engaged. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” put the titular hero against the backdrop of a titular thriller; “Guardians of the Galaxy” adapted elements of a 1980’s Steven Spielberg sci-fi blockbuster; and the original “Thor” felt almost like an adaptation of a Shakespearean stage play, and benefited as a result.

 

Conversely, “Thor: The Dark World,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” felt like comic books brought straight to the big screen — much to their detriment. Nothing about those films feels unique or fresh because we have seen that type of superhero film consistently since the release of X-Men” in 2000. Audiences don’t want to see the comic book genre again and again; they want to watch genre films inhabited by comic book characters they know and love.

 

Comic book films are like tofu: bland on their own, but interesting and notable when combined with other elements.

 

Did you enjoy “Ant-Man”? What did you think of the play on genre? Comment below or tweet @connerws to tell us what you think!