Ant-Man is a small character who opens up huge possibilities.
Size. It began with The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), which inspired The Atom (1962) in DC's Justice League, and then Ant-Man and The Wasp (1963) in Marvel's Avengers. Unlike that film's hero, The Atom could control his size ratios, cleverly using the full range of editor Julius Schwartz's science-ed focus against criminals. Ant-Man (as Hank Pym) brought genius tech and communion with insect comrades into the mix. Similar to kid sidekicks, these heroes acted as empowerment avatars for kids imagining adventures in a world too big for them. And Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man, was a luckless everyperson who brought the story to the blue collar scale.
Subatomica. Each character in Marvel Films is a door to unique dimensions of the Marvel universe: Thor brings mythology; Captain American brings heritage; the Guardians bring the cosmology; Dr. Strange brings the metaphysical; and now Ant-Man brings subatomica. Also inspired by The Incredible Shrinking Man, Lee and Kirby first took the Fantastic Four to microscopic realms in 1967. In Harlan Ellison's classic 1971 comic, "The Brute That Shouted Love at the Heart of the Atom," the Hulk fell in love here with Queen Jarella. Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden redefined and solidified this realm as the Microverse in their brilliant Micronauts comics (1979). While Ant-Man's talent for shrinking is underscored in the film, his truly unique power is direct access to an entirely different realm of existence. Talk about macro to micro!
Lineage. In Marvel comics, superheroes have existed uninterrupted since the '40s. But in the films, they leap from Captain America in the '40s to the present day, with only Agent Carter and the evolving S.H.I.E.L.D. as the spine. With this film, the first Ant-Man and Wasp of the '70s imply a secret lineage of heroes unknown to the public, a connective tissue which allows for the introduction of other historical characters to flesh out that span.
Rudd is great in the role, bringing a freshness and light comedic tone, that some of the other films have been missing. While Edgar Wrights vision for the film would have been something different to relish, Peyton Reed ably steps in and brings an immensely watchable movie to the world.
Michael Peña brings some great character moments to the film and Michael Douglas balances it with a heartfelt and solid veteran performance.
The FX of the shrunken environments is well wrought and gorgeous to observe. All in all a fantastic addition to the MCU.