Even if you’re unhappy, just pretend that you’re happy. Eventually, your smile will be contagious to yourself. I had to learn that. I used to think, ‘I’m being fake,’ but you know what? Better to be fake and happy than real and miserable.
More meta-textually, Ant-Man may be the worst movie in the Marvel Universe for gender roles. Of its three female characters, Scott’s daughter exists to be as cute as possible so we know why he wants to be a good dad (complete with two missing front teeth), Cassie’s mother exists to prevent Scott from seeing her (and to be dating a guy who prevents Scott from seeing her) and Hope van Dyne is a highly capable corporate executive who is also an expert in hand-to-hand combat, using Pym particles and speaking to ants.
The problem is that Hope, an original character, exists because the movie knew it had to have a female lead, and understands vaguely that female lead characters should be capable no-nonsense women, but didn’t actually want her to do anything. And so it digs itself into a hole: It goes out of its way to establish that Hope is already a better candidate for leading the heist than Scott may ever be, and that it would make much more sense to let her retrieve Hank’s secret technology rather than allow a complete stranger with a criminal past that includes whistleblowing to handle it. The only thing in her way is Hank Pym and his personal issues, which stem from the film’s other looming problem with female characters: the removal of Janet van Dyne — the only female founding member of the comic book version of the Avengers — from the modern Marvel movie universe.
Janet’s limited presence in Ant-Man is a classic example of fridging, the death or torture of a female character primarily so that a male character can emotionally react to it. This overused device would be annoying enough on its own, but is employed as an excuse to corral Hope’s character within Trinity Syndrome, an increasingly common pattern in modern blockbusters where a narrative sets up a superlatively capable female character only to pass her over for a less experienced male lead. An end credit scene promising more for Hope later only raises the question, “Why not in this movie?”