I have no idea why I’ve become fixated on this, but I have, so here we go!
Scott Lang, yes, “Mr. Ant-Man” Scott Lang, is a good dad.
No, you know what? He’s a competent dad, and I think that’s the really important bit.
Scott Lang is a Competent Dad.
Scott Lang is the Best Dad in the MCU.
Fucking hell, is this even a question? Who are the other dads in the MCU, anyway? Hank Pym shipped his daughter off to a boarding school after her mom ‘died’ because he couldn’t handle the grief, and let her keep that bob haircut for God knows how long. Odin spent centuries in a blood frenzy with his oldest daughter and then when he sobered up he just locked her away in a metaphysical prison for, like, a millennia and a half, and then just makes really shitty decisions with his other kids in general. T’Chaka seemed like a good dad, but he made questionable foreign policy decisions, and he was a terrible uncle. Clint says he loves his family, but he keeps fucking off to do Avengers stuff. Tony seems fine, but there was about ten minutes of parenting in that movie so I’ve got basically nothing to go on there. The only contender here is Rocket Raccoon. Okay, wait.
Scott Lang and Rocket Raccoon Are the Best Dads in the MCU, But I Want to Talk About Scott.
Setting aside the trope of absentee/abusive/emotionally unavailable dads, even the dads who are portrayed as good dads are still…kind of not good at it? Sitcom dads can obviously love their kids and still do stuff that’s so stick-in-eye stupid, like, gee, Susan, how was I supposed to know I shouldn’t have used Kayleigh’s prom dress to buff out my car?!? And then we, as an audience, have to sit there and watch while his wife teaches this chucklefuck, this bridge troll, this absolute waste of carbon and hydrogen, that his daughter has feelings or some such bullshit. And then the rest of the family – the mega-hottie wife, the mid-twenties teenage daughter, and the hyperactive teenage son who still has his hair spiked up even though it’s not 2004 anymore – they all gather in a circle around this prehistoric rat monster perpetually wearing a foam dome and forgive him and tell him it’s okay and someday he’ll learn to stop waxing cars with clothes but, I mean, it’s unlikely. Super unlikely.
Action hero dads are pretty similar. Love their kids, but they’re so bad at either being a parent or an action hero that the kid usually ends up kidnapped and strapped to a bomb.
Then comes Scott Fucking Lang, Super Dad. He’s a superhero in an action comedy and he’s an ex-con, so whether you know it or not you’ve already been primed on what to expect. He’ll say things about loving his daughter and wrap her in big hugs, but it’s all downhill from there. He’ll be creepy and weird with his ex-wife. He’ll demand that he get joint custody even though he’ll live somewhere completely inappropriate, like a no-tell motel. He’ll sneak her out of the house for an Ant-Man field trip, endangering her and ultimately learning a lesson about being a better dad, a lesson he should have already known in the first place because why would anyone have to learn not to bring your six year old daughter on a caper through experience? You know where this is going, because this is where it’s always going.
Then the first movie takes all of that and tells you where you can cram it (it’s your butt. It’s always up your butt). In the first third of the movie:
- Scott never tries to get back with his wife. He’s over it, and he just wants to see Cassie.
- He never insists Cassie come live with him or even argues for split custody, just the right to see her. It’s not a no-tell motel, but he does live in a shitty apartment with another ex-con on top of what appears to be a 24 hour rave, and Scott knows full well he can’t have Cassie there.
- He’s actively trying to pay his child support, thus the shitty job at the Baskin-Robbins and agreeing to Luis’ plan in the first place.
These things already put Scott in, like, the 98th percentile of movie dads. These are all unselfish decisions, motivated by Cassie’s best interest and not in Scott getting a new caper buddy. The first part of the first movie also includes the birthday scene (Yes, he does show up without being invited, but that makes him more a shitty ex than a shitty dad) where Scott gives Cassie the Ugly Pink Bunny, which she fucking loves. This can be read as a little girl who misses her dad just loving whatever it is he gives her, like, he could have given her gardening gloves and she would have lost her mind. But given all of my other highly-compelling evidence, I think Scott knew specifically she would love it.
Ant-Man and the Wasp has my two favorite scenes that point to Scott Lang being MCU’s Greatest Dad. It opens with Scott and Cassie working their way through a homemade cardboard box maze that dumps out into a multiple-story slide to the backyard (Scott earns less points for this than another dad might because he’s under house arrest and, as we all know at this point, boredom is the greatest muse). But that doesn’t even matter, because the point is not the maze and the slide. The point is that before they go down the slide, Scott makes Cassie put a bicycle helmet on. It’s such a small gesture. The writers didn’t have to add that in, except they did, because Scott Lang is a great dad who would never send his daughter down a homemade slide without head protection.
The final scene is my absolute favorite, and maybe a little less obvious. It’s when they have to retrieve the World’s Best Grandma trophy from Cassie’s classroom. They get to the school, and there’s some hijinx and drama from the suit Scott’s wearing fucking up, but there is absolutely no hijinx and drama from Scott not knowing which classroom is Cassie’s, because he knows her teacher’s name. He knows her teacher’s name. Jesus Christ, do you think Mr. Prehistoric Rat using his son’s basketball uniform like a Sham-Wow knows anything about his kids’ schooling, let alone a teacher’s name? And he can’t leave his house, so he’s never been to the school or met the teacher, he just knows because he’s paying attention to his kid and her schoolwork. Holy shit. I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it. A movie from twenty years ago definitely would have turned it into a joke.
Nineties Hope: Okay, which room is Cassie’s?
Nineties Scott: Uhhhhh….
Nineties Hope: The teachers’ names are on the doors, this should be easy? Do you not know your daughter’s teacher’s name?
Nineties Scott: Uhhhhhh….it starts with an S?
Uproariously laughter turned into barf-inducing laughter when we find the teacher’s room and the name is like Mrs. Murphy or some shit, and the only reason they figure it out is because they see Cassie physically come out of the room for some reason.
But none of that happens. They easily find the trophy because Scott knows the name of Cassie’s teacher, and also can identify which backpack is hers (“Duh, I could have sworn she had a purple bag” says Nineties Scott before he chugs a Zima and smashes it on his forehead). There’s even an in-movie acknowledgment of it. Because
Scott Lang is the Best Grandma in the MCU