Here’s another installment of me rambling about movies with your favorite podcast, The Wages of Cinema! This time we put Ant-Man & The Wasp under the microscope. This is a good installment for fans of self-indulgent tangents! My text critique* follows below with minuscule spoilers, although commercials already spoiled the final post-credits scene. It’s delayed in the UK due to the World Cup, which is not scaled to hold a planet without Pym Particles.
Let’s get some things out of the way early: I thought the first Ant-Man was pleasant despite Edgar Wright’s departure, although I shockingly failed to write a Brobdingnagian review with which to link. Secondly, this film is superior to Avengers: Infinity War! Instead of trying to condense multiple movies into one for an epic crossover event whose ending is undercut by Marvel Studios’ release schedule, Ant-Man & Also The Wasp focuses on being a single movie of modest ambition that it completely aces. Director Peyton Reed is two for two on incredible shrinking movies!
This movie is primarily a comedy. Fortunately it’s a funny one. Its Lilliputian leads earn gargantuan guffaws! (My laughter has been confusingly described as lovable & terrifying by the same people.) I haven’t cackled this much since I watched the second season of GLOW. (“The Good Twin” is a legitimutant masterpiece!) Although it doesn’t obliterate the fourth wall like Deadpool 2, The Wasp & Ant-Man takes the inherent goofiness of the concept & runs with it without invalidating its stakes. (I’m still reeling from how the MCU botched Mr. Fish!) Even its recurring jokes don’t get stale.
The Wasp & Also Ant-Man capitalizes upon the eponymous duo’s size manipulation. It keeps finding new ways to liven up the action scenes with this. Scott’s size regulator being on the fritz contributes to its share of sight gags. Surprisingly the films seem more creative with this ability than the comics of theoretically infinite budget. The special effects for the scale shifting, phasing, & the Quantum Realm are engrossing.
As punishment for that nefarious Steve Rogers tricking him out of his hard earned freedom, Scott Lang is now under house arrest. At least he can see his daughter, unlike being imprisoned on The Raft. The opening scene of Scott & Cassie playing reminded me of Dave Made A Maze, which is an excellent film that you should see post haste. As opposed to the first film, Scott is on such good terms with his ex-wife & her new husband that I suspect they have threesomes. Although attempting not to run afoul of FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Now we can have an Agents of Atlas movie!), he’s sucked back into being Ant-Man again.
Small Paul Rudd continues to be effortlessly endearing. Thankfully they excised the gray bits from his Civil War suit & punched up the reds.
My biggest gripe about Ant-Man was that Hope Van Dyne never suited up as the Wasp. The sequel finally delivers on this, & Wasp was well worth the wait. it only took a decade for a woman to get second billing in the title of a Marvel Studios movie! Evangeline Lilly is a kickass superheroine. Her costume’s not as shiny as expected, but fortunately not as dull as the first promo picture looked. Michelle Pfeiffer replaces Hayley Lovitt as Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp & her mother! (She, Laurence Fishburne, David Dastmalchian, & Michael Cerveris have all portrayed DC Comics characters previously.) I still wish the Wasps had bio-engineered wings in their backs instead of mechanical wings in their costumes.
Hannah John Kamen, who you may recall from Killjoys, Black Mirror, Ready Player One, & two scenes in Tomb Raider, plays the Ghost. (She brings along Walton Goggins from Tomb Raider too. I like his name because it sounds made up.) She does have a creepy intense vibe when she first talks to Scott, although she’s mostly obsessed with not dying. She tries to stabilize herself in a chamber of Fresnel lenses. Baba Yaga is more appropriate nickname for her than John Wick. They also made this formerly male Iron Man foe the daughter of Elihas “Egghead” Starr (played by Professor Pyg in a flashback cameo), the archenemy of Hank Pym besides Ultron. (Does Egghead have any fans to be aghast by this?) They did not maintain the character’s atrocious hygiene & anti-corporate ideology. Whereas comics Ghost’s intangibility is via his costume, movie Ghost’s powers are internalized via mad science. So they swapped Ghost’s & Wasps’ means of empowerment.
Curmudgeonly Hank Pym’s silver & red inner-space suit evokes Ant-Man’s armor in the Avengers: United They Stand cartoon. (I searched “Avengers cartoon nobody likes” & somehow that wasn’t the #1 result. Way to not be evil, Google.) The dubious ethics of him & Scott mind-controlling ants for slave labor is still unaddressed.
It’s refreshing to see the protagonists building something together. In another movie, the Quantum Tunnel could’ve easily been a doomsday weapon. Here it works like it’s supposed to & helps save lives. It’s pro-science propaganda for once! To make a mountain out of a molehill, the superscience still doesn’t make much sense. Pym Particles violate the square-cube law! The prismatic Quantum Realm is basically the Microverse. They can’t say Microverse because it’s part of the Micronauts rights Hasbro owns now. I prefer Microverse. Scott’s previous jaunt there allows Janet to telepathically control him while the Quantum Tunnel is turned on. Ghost believes lethally siphoning Janet’s essence will cure her based on seemingly nebulous evidence. Living in the Quantum Zone for decades gave Janet miraculous powers & a new shawl!
True to most Marvel movies, the romance is undercooked. The abrupt liplocking of Scott & Hope has chilled since he got arrested again. (Somehow The Sokovia Accords make Hope & Hank criminals as well even though the Ant-Man gear predated it.) Then it’s back on by the end. They make great action partners, but I wouldn’t necessarily have pegged them as romantic partners. I don’t dislike it though. Hopefully they’ll devote future films to their love blossoming instead awkwardly dropping it as is Marvel’s wont. Go full Talk To Her or go home!
2 Ant-Men 2 Wasps is such an uncynical film. All the characters are likeable & have relatable motivations. It even works out well for almost everyone without feeling like a cop-out. A major conflict stems from a refusal to communicate, but that feels organic to characters’ backgrounds rather than artificial plot contrivance. It’s not reductive to say it embraces its small scale. The story isn’t complex, but it’s very well executed. I’m not used to wholesome upbeat blockbusters. This is an ideal “all ages” film because it’s entertaining for viewers of any age not just younglings.
Instead of getting its own Marvel Legends series like the first Ant-Man, MCU Wasp & Ant-Man are being slotted into the second batch of Infinity War figures. So Ghost is probably snubbed until Hasbro makes Marvel Studios: The Second Ten Years anniversary sets. They did produce a Toys R Us exclusive set of comic Scott & Stinger, Cassie Lang’s best codename, just in time for TRU to implode.
If you told me a decade ago that I’d be more enamored of an Ant-Man sequel than a cosmic crossover, I would’ve thought you were the crazy one. Can we have Whirlwind, Stilt-Man, & The Living Eraser as the villains of the next installment?
*This was written under the influence of truth serum.
And now for some random Marvel musings:
Rumor has it that the next Avengers film is titled… Avengers: Endgame? Not Avengers: Infinity Crusade, Avengers Disassembled, Avengers Forever, or Avengers’ Half-Off Sale? The Mysterio movie guest starring Spider-Man is subtitled Far From Home? But I insisted on Prom! Then the grand finale would be Graduation. Or if you want them to all be dance themed, the middle installment could be Winter Formal.
“Darcy Lewis will return in Avengers: Nick & Norah’s Infinity War Playlist.” Or she could team up with Sif & Valkyrie for Asgard’s Angels. Patti Smith should score the scene where they meet Beta Ray Bill.
Marvel Studios’ replacement Robert Downey Jr. for future films has been leaked. They’re getting their money’s worth since she’ll pull double duty for Chris Evans too. All we need is photographic evidence of her hefting Mjolnir to declare Becky Lynch a one woman Avengers team (or a Super-Adaptoid).
Hot Toys 12″ T’Chaka looks so keen & costs so much! Why couldn’t we have gotten him in Black Panther’s toy line instead of Black Bolt (who should’ve been a Walgreens exclusive like the other Fantastic Four characters)?
They just had to make the MCU Red Skull costume I prefer an SDCC exclusive with an overpriced novelty light but no Tesseract-Luger to execute failed underlings.
Do I even want to start watching Cloak & Dagger if they’re not empowered by magic heroin?
Elevator pitch for Skyscraper: It’s like Die Hard … IN A BUILDING! I’m not reviewing it, but please come back for next week’s blog anyway.