Ant-Man

Inciting Event: Pym CEO David Cross reveals to Hank Pym that he has cracked Hank’s secret shrinking-particle formula and has used it design a militarized suit—much to Hank’s horror. This is the “big” Inciting Event that moves the plot, but as far as main character Scott Lang is concerned, this is all happening behind the scenes. His personal Inciting Event is the much smaller moment when he decides to take on the “airtight” new job of stealing something from “some old man’s safe.” As the scene sequence extends, that something turns out to be Hank’s Ant-Man suit.

Note how even as Scott engages with the conflict, he’s still clueless about it. He doesn’t even know Cross and Pym exist, much less that he’s now a cog in their wheels. Even still, the plot moves him inexorably forward toward total immersion in the conflict.

First Plot Point: Scott—who is desperately disappointed that the big job yielded nothing but “some old motorcycle suit”—starts fiddling with the suit and eventually puts it on. He punches the button on the glove and shrinks down to nothing. Here, he irrevocably leaves the Normal World as he knew it. In his adventure world, not only is it possible for a human to shrink to the size of an ant, he’s also being recruited by Hank’s voice in his head. This the Key Event.

The First Plot Point doesn’t fully close the door on the First Act until the later scene (quite a bit later), where Scott decides to take the opportunity Hank gives him to escape from jail using the suit. Now he’s involved in the conflict up to his neck. Note how it’s his decision to step forward into the adventure world of the Second Act that moves the plot.

First Pinch Point: Pym’s daughter Hope watches, horrified, as Cross finally succeeds in shrinking a living organism—a lamb. Cross has almost completed his discovery and his ability to weaponize his Yellowjacket suit. Meanwhile, on the personal front, we’ve also got another “pinchy” scene going on, when Hank finally tells Hope that her mother died when she disabled the controls on her Wasp suit and went sub-atomic. This isn’t just a sober warning about the dangers of using the suit, it’s also an important new clue about the nature of the science involved—one which will be crucial to Scott in the Climax.

Midpoint: After his hasty training, Scott goes out on his first mission—to retrieve one of Hank’s inventions from the Avengers facility. This scene immediately launches Scott out of his reactive training phase and into full-blown take-action mode. He encounters the Avenger Falcon and beats him using his new suit and newly acquired skills.

Second Pinch Point: The timing in the Second Half of the Second Act is extremely tight. Right on the heels of the Midpoint, Cross shows up unannounced at Hank’s house, nearly discovering Hope and Scott and the blueprints they’re using to plan their heist of his Yellowjacket suit. This is a deliciously understated scene that emphasizes Cross’s danger to all of the main characters.

Third Plot Point: The reason the Second Pinch Point was timed so early was to allow the beginning of the big mission to start before the Third Plot Point. We’re already halfway into the mission by the time the Third Plot Point hits: Cross captures Scott, Hope, and Hank—and shoots Hank. He then escapes with his Yellowjacket suit.

Climax: Cross threatens Scott’s daughter Cassie, and they engage in a full-blown battle—in miniature. This is a great use of a climactic setting. It scales the conflict down to very narrow physical confines, while also infinitely upping the stakes for the protagonist.

Climactic Moment: Scott goes sub-atomic to infiltrate Cross’s suit and destroy him. This is the Climactic Moment. It ends the main conflict. But the tension continues, since Scott is now trapped on the sub-atomic level for several minutes, until he figures out how to grow back to full size.

Resolution: Scott makes up with his ex-wife and daughter and continues his association with Hank and Hope.

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