Ant-man and The Wasp is another installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that came out early July 2018. We see all the Marvel movies at the theaters, so this one wasn’t an exception.
The MCU and the Movies
I’ve heard some complaints about what the MCU has done to the modern movie-going experience. With the universe-building and seemingly never-ending line of “sequels” moviegoers no longer get the benefit of walking away from a complete, single movie. Instead you’re treated to endings that always set up the next installment. And, due to the popularity of these money-making motion pictures, cinemas are chockfull of these over-the-top action adventures year-round.
I get it.
But, as it would seem, we have little control over this superhero phenomenon. And if you do try to exert your control, you have more success cementing your role as a curmudgeon than exacting any real change.
So, I’ve taken the side of curiosity. I’m curious to see where this will all go. Likely, one day the MCU, at least in its current form, will come to a lackluster end as its last several movies pull in lower and lower numbers at the box office. But what I would love to see, as we all deal with the beginnings of superhero fatigue, is for the filmmakers to take some risks and diverge from the formulaic and expected. We’ve already seen this with Thor: Ragnorak, and I think we see it again with Ant-man and The Wasp (from here on out let’s call it ATW).
With the success of these off-the-beaten-path installments, I think we’ll see the MCU continue to take risks, and I’m optimistic about where this will lead.
Ant-man and The Wasp: Go, Wait or Skip?
This edition of Rachelsey at the Movies delivered a unanimous “Go!” from everyone involved (special guests on the show this week!).
The live “studio” audience had me a little nervous, so although I gave a few reasons why anyone should go and see this movie, I wanted to explain a bit more here.
What I Liked
Making regular sized things tiny, and small things giant is funny. It just makes for good comedy. And ATW does this without overdoing it.
The villains! Yes, there’s more than one. First, there’s some white collar gangster types. They’re not necessarily integral to the storyline but it makes for some variety in the story, breaking up the monotony.
The main villain: Ghost. It’s been said the MCU has trouble with its villains, Loki and now Thanos being exceptions, but I think Ghost, otherwise known as Ava, can be added to the shortlist of well done villains.
Ava is complex and the character invites the audience to empathize. We learn that Ava lost both of her parents in some sort of a quantum explosion that she survives, but with lasting molecular effects that leave her fading in and out of existence. Ava explains that she was drafted by Shield where she was trained and weaponized. We can infer that Ava never processed her childhood trauma and that the Shield training just further traumatized her.
On top of her complexity as a villain, the whole situation is not over-the-top. What I mean is that Ava is not out to destroy all the Avengers, lift a country into the upper atmosphere and drop it, or end of the lives of half of the beings across all the universe. Rather, she was in a tremendous amount of pain, physically and emotionally, and this is driving her to find a solution–no matter the cost.
We see her as a child, losing her parents, and we see her pain as an adult. Although her pain doesn’t give her the right to hurt anyone, we understand as we have all made poor decisions when in pain.
Outside of that, the movie had a lot else to offer. The relationship between Scott and his daughter is great. The family dynamics between Scott, his ex-wife, her husband and his daughter also work well. Scott’s business partners are a genuinely welcome addition to the movie, their characters playing so well against so many of the other characters. And, even though it’s expected, the growing connection between Scott and Hope also works. The pair are a nice onscreen duo with their opposite personalities, Hope hopelessly type A and Scott a little more of a risk-taker and creative, complementing one another. They even save one another from disaster at different times. This is a welcome change of pace from the modern character set of the smart-and-always-right woman alongside a bumbling idiot.
On top of all that, we also got the rescue of Hank’s wife, Janet. I thought for sure this would be an ongoing backstory always trumped by bigger threats in the MCU. But I’m happy to be wrong. Janet is played by the still beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer and, should there be more on the big screen from ATW, I think she’ll be a wonderful balance to Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym.
Then we had the addition of a former associate of Hank Pym, Bill Foster, played by Laurence Fishburne. This brought another layer of complexity to the story as Bill shares a point of view that doesn’t put Hank in a particularly great light. But, as most things in real life, it seems that the whole story has more going on, and that both Bill and Hank have made missteps and assumptions over the years.
I think one of my favorite things about this movie is the complexity of the characters. With the exception of the white collar gangster, no one is fully evil or good, super smart or hopelessly stupid. Rather, all the characters have strengths and weaknesses, have made good and bad decisions. Even the new husband of Scott’s ex and the lead FBI agent aren’t painted in the usual way that invites the audience to dislike or ridicule them. For the writers to take the extra time to develop all the characters is really admirable.
Lastly, we took our nieces and nephew to see this movie, ages 9 to 17, and I have no regrets in doing so. With the exception of one very short scene where Luis recounts a fictional connection between Scott and Hope and we see them vigorously making out, there wasn’t much else inappropriate for children (that I can remember; do your own research). Yet, the movie didn’t come off like a child’s movie. You probably don’t need sex scenes and crude language for adults to enjoy a movie.
What I Didn’t Like
I can’t really think of much. The only critique I have is that some of the jokes fell flat. This movie leaned heavily on dry wit and at times it just didn’t land.
Otherwise, I just think it’s a really good movie for what it is.
Sure, it’s unlikely to stand the test of time, stretch your thoughts and ideas or reach anyone on a particularly deep level. But, as another installment in the MCU, I think ATW stands apart from the rest and made some admirable choices with character development.
So, go see it! Get some friends and family together and have a good time at the movies.