Joanna Schroeder explains that there are many superheroes in the film Ant-Man, and all of them are dads.
Warning: Spoilers for the film Ant-Man below!
I was raised with two dads: my father and my step father. Unlike what you often see on TV and in movies, there wasn’t a lot of strife between my parents and their exes’ new partners, so I was always able to see my step parents as sort of “bonus” parents.
Such is the storyline in Ant-Man, even though you wouldn’t know it from the trailers, which only show the adventurous and fun parts of the film. Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a short but tough-as-nails ex-con who needs to get back on his feet in order to spend more time with his young daughter. (Side note, I think we all agree that Scott should’ve been able to spend time with his daughter regardless of whether his life was steady or not.)
His ex-wife (Judy Greer) is engaged to a new guy, a cop named Paxton, who doesn’t like Scott because of his criminal history. Scott, naturally, sees Paxton as an interloper in the family he felt he should have had, and the film begins with the two of them at odds.
But they’re not really at odds, as they discover as the movie unfolds. Turns out, they share one singular mission.
Ultimately, Ant Man is about dads. It’s about Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, a grieving widower and father, who has shut his daughter out of his life in a (misguided) attempt at protecting her from danger, and hiding her from his own grief and guilt.
It’s about Paxton’s sense of never really being good enough in the eyes of his future step-daughter, whom he’s been caring for while Scott has been in prison. She sees her dad as an idol, and because she’s just a kid, she doesn’t fully appreciate what her stepfather did for her as a dad while Scott was away.
And it’s about Scott learning that he has to grow up and take responsibility for his own actions, so that he can truly be present for his daughter. Part of that means seeing Paxton as a type of superhero himself, an everyday man who simply cared for another man’s daughter when she needed it most, all while also trying to keep the city safe in a more standard way. And Paxton has to learn about second chances.
The two dads together are stronger than just one on his own.
But ultimately, it’s about all three of them learning that they have to set aside their egos and their own fears in order to really care for the people they want the best for.
For any person raised in a happy blended family, the true resolution of the film Ant-Man comes when Paxton and Scott both recognize the heroism of each other, and the sacrifices they’re both willing to make in order to protect this one little girl they both love so much. They see one another, for the first time, not as competitors but as teammates, dads together, raising one awesome little kid alongside her mom.
For Dr. Hank Pym, his great moment of fatherhood happens when he finally tells his daughter the truth about her mom, and eventually shows his faith in her abilities by giving her her very own wings to fly, despite how afraid he is of losing her.
Yes, Ant-Man is about the little guy beating the big powerful corporation that is willing to destroy the world in the pursuit of wealth and power. But at its heart, it’s a movie about men learning to trust their hearts, as well as one another, in order to become better fathers.