Real Talk By: CMack The Don
Warning: Spoilers Are Below
The first Ant-Man was a surprise MCU-hit for me, considering I’ve never really thought of Ant-Man as a big deal (Jokes, son! Stay sharp now!) even as a massive Marvel fan. The other creepy-crawly based Marvel hero, one of the arachnid variety, definitely casts a bigger shadow in people’s minds and at the box office than Hank Pym and Scott Lang. It seemed like Marvel knew this and made a movie that acknowledged how frankly ridiculous of a character Ant-Man is, and how silly the premise is, in a family-friendly action/comedy with a great cast that combined elements of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and a heist movie, and squished it all into a superhero film. There’s few superhero movies like it, and because of its humble and self-aware approach, Ant-Man really gained a lot of credibility with me, as well as a hilarious cameo in Civil War.
The sequel is here, and Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, rapper T.I., Michael Pena, and Michael Douglas all return, with newcomers to the series Laurence Fishburne, Hannah Kamen, and Vice Principals star Walton Goggins all delivering solid performances.
The acting and effects are great, the sub-atomic world that Ant-Man and the Pym family can access through hyper-powered shrinking still looks incredible, and the size-shifting powers are put to great use in awesome fight scenes and action sequences that the whole family can enjoy.
The biggest strength of this movie is Evangeline Lily as Wasp, one of Marvel’s most classic heroines, who was set-up in the first film, but never truly realized until now. You can tell that aside from her character that Lily in real life was definitely waiting to get her chance to be a hero as well, and it shows in her performance, because she brings it in every scene where she’s The Wasp. Her costume looks amazing, and her powers, complete with her “Stingers” (wristbands that fire concentrated blasts of electricity to your nerve-endings) and super-sonic wings are all represented really well. The action really kicks into gear in the few scenes where Ant-Man and Wasp use their shrinking and growing powers in tandem to team-up against their enemies. The movie could’ve used a lot more of this.
The story involves the Lang/Pym family facing new challenges after the Sokovia Accords have made being a non-government registered superhero illegal. An old colleague from Pym’s past shows up, not having left Pym’s organization on the best of terms, as well as a character who’s more of an Iron Man villain in the comics, Ghost, who has a great costume design and formidable invisibility and matter phase-shifting powers. Meanwhile, Walton Goggins plays Sonny Burch, a crooked technology dealer who’s looking to get ahold of the Pym family devices and sell them for the highest prices to criminals worldwide.
So while AM&W has a lot of great things going for it, the area it falters is the villains and the way they’re worked into the story. Yellowjacket was a great villain in the first Ant-Man, an over-eager partner of Pym who actually admired him, and got carried away in trying to advance the tech to the point it made him insane, and he had to be stopped. In the sequel, we find out that Ghost isn’t a true villain, her only motivation is to heal herself from the accident that gave her the powers she has, and aside from that, she doesn’t really want to harm anyone or doing anything else that affects the story. A sympathetic villain like Killmonger from Black Panther is great, sure, but you have to make sure they aren’t so sympathetic that they never do anything wrong. She might kick and shove a few security guards, but Killmonger was ready to use the weapons and resources of Wakanda to wipe out millions of people, he even threatens to kill children and assaults old women, they made sure to balance out the background and character development they gave him with enough hate and insanity to make sure we knew he was the badguy.
In Ant-Man and Wasp, Ghost does very little to impact the story and really only wants to get healed from the life-threatening condition that she is, so all of the fight scenes with her after we find that out fall flat. Not to mention that the movie has so much else going on before the final showdown that it’s cut-short abruptly when it’s getting good. Marvel has been at this long enough to know that if anything, the last confrontation between hero and villain is a special thing, and if anything can always be made longer and more intense.
Goggins’ villain is more of an annoyance and comedic character since he doesn’t have powers, and his crew is really just more about causing a headache for the family instead of an actual threat.
It’s a great moment when Michael Douglas as Hank Pym finally rescues his wife Janet VanDyne played by Michelle Pfieffer from the subatomic world, and it’s really nice to see Wasp reunite with her mother that she thought was dead. But it all should’ve been centered around a massive, pulse-pounding action scene that really had a strong meaning to the story, and instead it all just kind of happens.
Don’t get me wrong, Ant-Man and Wasp is still a great, fun summer-flick with some hilarious moments and great comedic back-and-forths. But they needed to remember that it’s an *action* comedy and not just a sitcom, and that audiences have rightfully come to expect a lot from Marvel. They’ve set their own bar very high and have nobody else to blame, but by default, Ant-Man and Wasp is one of the lesser Marvel entries in this phase, simply because it stands up against Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, which have all been massive hits.
One more thing before I go: Ant-Man and Wasp sets up some huge things for the future of the MCU. When Janet VanDyne gets rescued from the subatomic world, she returns with energy-projection powers. When asked about how she gained these abilities, she mentioned that the sub-atomic world wasn’t just a place she adapted to, it caused her to evolve. I don’t know about you, but I hear evolution+Marvel, I think of only team of natural-born superheroes with powers that the world hates and fears. With a merger between 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios in the works, maybe Marvel is introducing the concept of evolution-based powers into its stories as a way of setting the stage for the return of one of the company’s biggest franchises.
Another element that you must see if you’re a Marvel fan is the end-credits scene. It provides more story for the future MCU than the whole rest of the movie, and connects to Infinity War in a way that made the audience in my theatre gasp.
See it in theatres if you loved the first, wait for it for home release if it was just okay for you, and if you didn’t really dig Ant-Man and just like Marvel casually, you could honestly skip this one.
Ant-Man and The Wasp buzzes in with a 3 MFs out of 5. Small but mighty.