In 1989, Dr. Hank Pym took his human-shrinking technology into seclusion, leaving behind a powerful agency that would have weaponized it. In the present day, his former mentee and successor Darren Cross has nearly replicated Pym’s efforts, and intends to weaponize the technology for profit. Pym’s daughter, Hope, works as Cross’ top assistant.
Hank’s relationship with Hope has been strained ever since Hank’s wife, Janice, mysteriously died. Hank went into mourning, and he failed to adequately care for Hope. Although Hope has a lifetime of anger against Hank, she sees the danger in Cross’ plans, and is secretly working with Hank to save the world from such a devastating weapon. Hank and Hope are unwittingly joined by Scott Lang, a Robin-Hoodish ex-con who is trying to regain a relationship with his young daughter. Can this unlikely crew undermine the evil efforts of Cross?
The Adoption Connection
While there is no adoption in this movie, there are several interesting family dynamic threads that could be relevant to adoptive families as well.
There is a sense of loss – Hank lost his wife, and Hope lost her mother. Both are still grieving the loss, twenty years later. Hank hasn’t shared the true story of the loss with Hope, who resents this information being withheld from her. The pain of the loss coupled with the damage caused by Hank’s secrecy has driven Hank and Hope apart.
Scott’s daughter is being cared for by his ex-wife and her fiancé. Scott is an ex-con, and his ex-wife is engaged to a police officer, who finds himself in pursuit of Scott. Many parents (and many children) will be able to relate to a parent and child being separated. People touched by foster care may also recognize the dynamic of a parent who has been separated from their child because of choices they’ve made, who now has to “earn” the right to build relationship with the child. Cassie’s loyalty to her father over her stepfather show up when she asks her stepfather whether he is trying to find her daddy. He says, “Yeah, I just want him to be safe.” Cassie replies, “I hope you don’t catch him.”
Several characters express their strong desire to be loved or affirmed by those whose opinions they value.
The film clearly and powerfully shows that a dad and a stepfather can both deeply love the same child and work cooperatively for her good.
Scott and his ex-wife Maggie work cooperatively to develop a plan that will allow Scott to see their daughter, Cassie. Scott expresses, “I want to provide [and] love her… I want to be part of her life.”
When Scott is arrested, Cassie asks Maggie, “Is Daddy a bad man? I heard some grown-ups say he’s bad.” Maggie’s answer is skillful, “No. Daddy gets confused sometimes.”
**SPOILER ALERT – When Hank does tell Hope the story of how her mom died, it brings much healing to Hope, who is able to help release Hank from some of his guilt.” END SPOILER ***
Several of the film’s protagonists are a gang of petty criminals. One character even reflects on the oddness of the situation, asking, “Are we the good guys?”
There is some gross sci-fi violence on screen; one character is turned into a small pile of bloody slime.
It might not be helpful to have such a “good vs. bad” portrait of birthfather and step- (or adoptive) father; in this film, the new dad is a police officer who pursues and tries to arrest the birthfather.
A grown man attempts to kill a young girl out of vengeance against the girl’s father.
Ant-Man is an interesting film. Is it a film that shows what it’s like to have a parent who is also a criminal, or a picture of what lengths someone will go to for their children? I think it’s the latter. The violent content and complicated good-vs-evil themes in the film help it to legitimately earn its PG-13 rating. It could be fun for kids ages 11 and up, with their parents.
The Santa Clause movies also explore the relationship between a child’s father and stepfather.
Questions for Discussion
Why hadn’t Hank shared his whole story with Hope? How might their relationship have been different had he done so?
Why does Scott deserve a second chance with his daughter?