"One should pay attention to even the smallest of living creatures for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us, and even the smallest ant may wish to communicate to people," Black Elk once noted.
Most of us give little respect to six-, eight-, and multi-legged creeping and flying creatures. Through insecticides, traps, and other methods, we conduct an unending war against them. We seem to think we can get them out of our lives. Perhaps that's because we have projected onto insects what we find to be ugly, parasitic, and chaotic about ourselves.
We can learn a lot from traditional tribal peoples who revere life in all its variety. Some insects are viewed as spiritual teachers while others are regarded as seers with helpful information about surviving in the wilderness. In Egyptian mythology the beetle is a potent symbol of rebirth. In our times, His Holiness the Dalai Lama admits that most of the time he swats mosquitoes away while other times he just lets them bite him. Most of us would not go that far but then we have not been tutored in the rigors of compassion or in the importance of purposeful encounters with insects who drop by for a visit.
All of this is a prelude to the major reason for our delight with Ant-Man and its counter-cultural modeling of the alliances that can be made between humans and insects. The newest film based on a character from Marvel Comics, may upset a few devotees because it lacks the turbulent and nonstop action and battles of such films as Iron Man, The Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, Hulk, and quite a few others. But we were pleased to see time given over to the character development of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a cat burglar who has just been released from three years in prison and wants to go straight so he can spend more time with his daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson).
He is chosen for a special mission by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientific genius who developed a top-secret weapon to win any war; then, recognizing its danger, he decided to hide it. But his protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), canned him and took over the research in order to develop his invention for money and power. Known as the Yellowjacket, it is a device that can shrink to avoid detection and capture while inflicting great damage upon its enemies.
Pym decides to resurrect his "Ant-Man" to stop Cross. He recruits Lang to wear a magic suit that enables him to shrink to ant size. Pym's daughter (Evangeline Lilly), who is upset that her father has not chosen her for the project to save the world, becomes Lang's trainer. She teaches him to fight and, but most importantly, to communicate telepathically with several different types of ants. He will not be able to carry out his mission without them.
Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed, delivers multiple delights, including a superhero we can identify with, a mission that can "redeem" this wayward young man, the humor of his former cellmate Luis (Michael Pena), and the many 3-D scenes depicting the marvels of Ant-Man as he astonishes himself and Dr. Pym with his energy, creativity, and feisty-will power.
Best of all, this Marvel/Disney production makes a huge contribution to the spiritual need of humanity to see the value of alliances with insects of all types. Let's hear three cheers for the kinship of all life on earth!
Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes.