Some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are epic and involve the heroes saving millions of lives, if not entire worlds. Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Captain America and all of The Avengers movies are examples of this. Others are smaller with the stakes being a little lower like Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, Thor and interestingly all of the Iron Man movies. (One of them, Civil War, is epic while still having lower stakes.) It is entirely deliberate, I am sure, that following Infinity War where the stakes were higher than ever, Ant-Man and The Wasp falls firmly in in the latter camp. The heroes here have the least to fight for than in any of these twenty films. The plot essentially involves saving just one person.
This is fine, there is still plenty of action and it is great fun to watch but in one respect this left me a little bit disappointed. Much has been made of how this is the first MCU film to have the name of a female superhero in the title and because of this I wanted her to be standing up against a little more. I wanted her to be more important. I kind of wanted her to be Marvel’s Wonder Woman and she’s not.
I can’t criticise the movie for this, I am sure it is all part of the plan and it says more about my expectations than it does about anything else but I wanted The Wasp to really matter. The MCU has a whole raft of greats female supers now but while this lady can fly she, like her sisters, is still waiting in the wings.
There is such great potential here too. The character of Hope Van Dyne is a really strong one, more so because she was well established in the first film long before she suited up. (It’s hard not to have aspirations for someone who is literally named Hope.) In the first Ant-Man Ms. Van Dyne was a confident, strong and smart woman. Arguably she drove the plot more than anyone else in the film and she stood up to all competition. Ultimately she became the protagonist’s love interest but she was also his mentor and theirs was a well balanced relationship. In fact if anything the scales were tipped in her favour. As such she is not defined by the powered persona she has now taken on. She gets some amazing action and fight scenes as The Wasp but she essentially remains the confident women she was before. Frankly she’s a little wasted fighting gangsters. They just don’t present her with enough of a challenge. She does battle new powered villain The Ghost, also a strong woman, but she isn’t big or bad enough. The Ghost is formidable but she’s no Thanos.
There is an amusing video interview with the three main actors in this film where they are asked how their characters would have taken down the Mighty Titan if they been involved in that scuffle. Michael Douglas can’t answer the question because he knows too little about the ongoing Infinity War plot and Paul Rudd can’t presumably because he knows too much. Evangeline Lilly gets straight to it though simply saying she’d fly up his nose and punch a hole in his brain and you really believe she could. A lot of the strength of Van Dyne evidently comes from Lilly. Watch the interview here.
Ant-Man and The Wasp is a perfectly entertaining film. Having established that shrinking tech exists in the previous film they really have fun with it here, logic be damned, and there is a building that has partly been constructed in miniature and partly full size that is an example of brilliant design. All of the characterisation is strong, not just The Wasp’s, and there are some lovely scenes with Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie. Like the Han Solo film though, it all just felt a little inconsequential. If you’re okay with that then no problem.
SPOILER WARNING. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU’VE NOT SEEN THE FILM.
Still with me? I’m going to discuss the end of Infinity War too so best stop here if you’ve not seen that film either.
Still with me?
Okay so let’s talk about that scene in the end credits. Clearly the events depicted here are going to have significant implications for Avengers 4. Yep, that giant drumming ant is going save the day. He wore the ankle bracelet and next he’ll be sporting the gauntlet.
No, I’m kidding. I meant the other scene. THE ONE WHERE THE WASP AND BOTH OF HER PARENTS WERE CLICKED INTO OBLIVION! After Infinity War I suggested that it would be funny if one of the titular heroes in this turned to dust at the end but I wasn’t being serious. I wondered if they’d go there at the end of Agents of Shield but I didn’t really expect them to do it here. Taken on its own this is another really downbeat ending. Bloody Thanos!
Incidentally, if 50% of all life in the universe was extinguished then the Pym/Van Dyne family were statistically very unlucky. Maybe this means Pepper and Hogan are okay.
My first question here is in relation to the timeline. This moment is clearly a couple of days after the main events of the film so why didn’t they go and help The Avengers when they saw what was happening on the news? I have a theory regarding this that also explains why Nick Fury and Maria Hill got dusted immediately after getting notification of the attack in Wakanda when that must have been going on for some time before Thanos’ final blow. I think the inclusion of the Time Stone in the Gauntlet may have meant that some of the deaths occurred back in time a little. It’s just an idea but it plugs a plot hole.
The big thing here though is that Scotty is now trapped in the Quantum Realm. This will turn out to be important, I’m sure of it. There’s obviously magic in that place (it allowed Janet Van Dyne to retain perfect hair and makeup for thirty years after all) and Ant-Man may be about to do something a lot more impressive than card tricks.
Of course we won’t know until April next year and we’ve got Captain Marvel first in March. Please let her kick some serious ass.