06 July 2018

An Ant-Man and A Wasp

Boy, it's been a while since a Marvel movie, hasn't it?! Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018) makes it three on the year for the studio that's having a non-stop party rolling in billion-dollar bills. Well, only three billion dollar bills. That's still pretty good.

BBF: Best Bug Friends
We may not see the same kind of insane numbers for Ant-Man and The Wasp as we did for Black Panther (2018) and Infinity War (2018), though. Then again, I'm not sure anyone expected Black Panther to be the film to actually outperform Infinity War (and currently rule Marvel's all-time domestic tally. Ant-Man (2015) followed Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) in similar fashion - providing an entertaining little mid-level clever side jaunt from all the dread and serious world-ending of the main storyline.

In this way these films have done better than anything else at world-building on the periphery of the big name Marvel folks like Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. That's a weird sentence to say, but that's where we are now. Ant-Man made about the same as Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), THOR (2011), and a bit better than The Incredible Hulk (2008). It's thus a weird reminder that these films weren't ALWAYS box office juggernauts (still, $180 million isn't anything to laugh at). It serves its role well, though, which is just having some fun.

In the wake of Infinity War where everybody died, it's nice to have a little reprieve. It's a pallet cleanser. Just some madcap heist fun. At the same time, though, it's notable to check in with Paul Rudd's Scott Lang, who did appear in CIVIL WAR (2016) and was observably absent from Infinity War. That alone has piqued some curiosity - where exactly was he and why not in on the action? Does Ant-Man and The Wasp even take place before or after half the world went ploof? There are some serious implications there. I could probably look this up easily, and you may even know, but I'm INFINITE-ly curious yuck yuck.

This how this series has become self-sufficient. I don't really care about Ant-Man. I didn't even see the first one in the theaters. BUT it's still a way to keep involved in this overall grand story they're telling. And to be fair, Marvel seems to have done a better job lately of only peripherally tying in stories, but Infinity War was so monumental and game-changing that its universal implications can't be ignored.

Having said all that, this film does have some exciting merits on its own. Besides Paul Rudd being the greatest superhero ever, a supporting cast of Michael Pena, Michael Douglas, Lawrence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Evangeline Lilly is pretty spectacular. Let's focus on those last two:

Fist, Pfeiffer. She's obviously an immortal 90s actress, but I've actually dug her a lot in some terrible recent movies like Dark Shadows (2012), The Family (2013), and mother! (2017). It's this rare older actress career resurgence that's been wonderful. She's also one of the original superheroines (villains, probably?) from Batman Returns (1992). You what this means, right? Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer are now both in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's your Infinity War 2 (2019) right there. Can we get Danny DeVito to play Mole Man and Chris Walken to play Tyrannus in some underground war Hulk movie? We need to get into the weird underground Kingdoms, people. I want that movie now.

Anyway, Pfeiffer plays the original Wasp, who was lost to the Quantum Realm by taking Steve Martin's advice and I guess she's back. There are a lot of theorists out there that think this Quantum business of existing in multiple states at once is the key to solving the Thanos flinger snapping riddle, which is super-possible.

If the Pfeiff is the original marvel heroine (sidebar, we've got Peggy Carter, Wonder Woman 1984 [2019], and a 90s-set Captain Marvel [2019], why the hell are we afraid of contemporary female heroines), then Evangeline Lilly is good to take up the current mantle, sharing the spotlight with Paul Rudd in a way expanded capacity here that looks to be more than a cheeky War Machine-style sidekick. She's a great character and has been a huge comic and cartoon show presence for years.

Not only this, people, but we get a sweet villain who isn't a carbon copy of the hero - Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen. I don't know too much about the actress, but Ghost is a real bitch of a villain with a power set that's complimentary, not derivative of Ant-Man. She phases and turns intangible, Ant-Man avoids capture by shrinking. She's a tech whiz that can interface with tech, Lang's shrinks and fixes shit manually. It's a nice diversion from usual Marvel doppelganger crap. Also how do you catch a Ghost? Proton packs?! It's all fun and weird and clever and out there in a way that feels really refreshing right now.

What do you think? This certainly shouldn't present any tough moral challenge or arduous blockbuster to ponder on in darkness, but looks like the kind of summer fun very few other studios understand right now. I mean...Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom (2018). It may not be something we're discussing years down the line, but does that even matter anymore? At this point it's all more garbage on the same pile. What say you?

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