Marvel’s latest superhero block-buster Ant-Man & The Wasp is a light-hearted heist movie about a crook turned superhero. It’s also about found family, the criminal justice system and women in science. Also the Mexican community’s profound love of Morrissey. It also features the MCU’s 1st Woman of Color villian. Narrative Strategist and life long geek Felicia Perez joins us to talk about the movie.
Feliciais the Innovation Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy (one of the organizations behind Black Panther #FanActivistCon). She previously worked at the United Workers Congress, ACLU of Southern California & was a high school social studies for twelve years in the Los Angeles Unified School District where she was also an active union leader and chapter chair for United Teachers of Los Angeles.
This is the palate cleanser we needed after the heaviness of Avengers: Infinity War, and like the first Ant-Man, guaranteed to leave you smiling ear to ear. However, as a film, and grading on the curve of what we expect from recent MCU movies, it falls a bit short of the recent genius of Black Pantheror Thor: Ragnarok.
But is that really fair? Do we judge the sorbet, pickled ginger, or simple fruit compared to the course before it? If you eat some apple slices after a particularly hearty main course, shouldn’t you just compare it to other apples? Ant-Man and the Wasp is a particularly good apple, even if it’s a lesser part of the feast of the MCU.
Our story centers back on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, finds himself in the last few days of a two-year house arrest, during which time he has had no contact with Hope Van Dyne (EvangelineLilly) or Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). They are reunited after he has a vision of Janet (Michelle Pfieffer) whom Hank and Hope have been trying to rescue from the quantum realm, avoiding detection by the authorities with a truly “mobile” lab they can shrink to a rolling suitcase.
Unfortunately, their activities have also attracted the attention of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) a former S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, who needs their tech to fix her condition which allows her to phase through solid matter, but is also extremely painful. They’re also being pursued by billionaire Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and FBI Agent Woo (Randall Park) and aided by Scott’s friends from the previous movie, led by Michael Pena. And we get a glimpse into Hank Pym’s past with the introduction of Dr. Bill Foster (Lawrence Fishburne) who previously used Pym’s technology to grow larger and become “Goliath.”
It’s a lot of characters. And most of the movie ends up being a giant game of keep-away with the lab/suitcase while our stars tell jokes and superhero wackiness ensues. While the first Ant-Man played like a generic heist film, this is more reminiscent of the specific sub-genre of a 60’s caper film which was as much about the romantic chemistry of the two leads as its plot.
Full of sight gags and visuals of little things turning big and vice versa, the film plays with its main conceit of being able to shrink and grow at will, sometimes almost to a fault. It also uses its setting of San Francisco to great effect. The film also depends on the audience being willing to accept a lot of super convenient plot turns to keep everything moving, including the biggest deus ex machina of the entire MCU to resolve its central conflict.
One of the biggest impressions we’re left with from this film is “women do it better.” Hope Van Dyne’s Wasp is infinitely better at her job than Scott is at being Ant-Man, and Ghost as an antagonist is infinitely better than Corey Stoll’s super-weak Yellowjacket in the last Ant-Man film.
The other important thing here [possible spoiler alert?] is the idea that this film exists without a singular villain, continuing Marvel’s recent spate of complex villains with an actual beef and moral weight to their arguments. While Ghost is certainly the antagonist, she is a person acting out of severe pain from her “powers” and more akin to a terminal patient looking to do anything to get palliative medical care. And Goggins, while always fun to watch in a villain role, really doesn’t do enough to qualify as a “villain” in the true sense– other than just being a greedy capitalist.
So this movie has a lot of heart, spectacular visuals, great jokes and performances from its supporting cast, and some nice character moments, but falls short of some of the spectacle, fun, and other recent MCU films. But as a palate cleanser? It works really well.
Until [again, possible spoiler alert, but this is predictable] in the post credit scenes we see what happens in this corner of the universe when Thanos snaps his fingers. Then it leaves that ashy, sad taste in our mouth again. If you want to preserve the fun and good feelings this movie gives us, you may want to leave at the credits, just this one time.
This is a fun movie which should keep you smiling for almost the entirety of its runtime. While not as good as, say, Incredibles 2, it’s worthwhile just as some fun escapism from the heat and the stresses of summer 2018.
Real heroes. Not actual size. Watch the brand-new trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The film has Paul Rudd returning as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/The Wasp, Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Judy Greer as Maggie Lang, Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie Lang, and Micheal Peña as Luis. New characters and actors include Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost, Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch, Randall Park as Jimmy Woo, and Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster/Goliath. Peyton Reed returns to direct.
After its initial success with Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Thor, Marvel Studios quickly realized that it had a formula for success on its hands and seemed ready to take advantage of it. To do so though required a plan, and studio head Kevin Feige soon had broken down the movies into various phases, with the most recent Ant-Man signaling the end of phase 2. Aside from the developments inside the movies, there have been some developments outside the movies which have affected the universe as well, chief among those the partial reversion of the rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel, or at least the use of Spider-Man inside the shared universe in a collaboration with Sony.
At the moment, we kn ow the entire lineup for phase 3, starting with Captain America: Civil War and continuing through two new Avengers movies and the Inhumans. What might be expected in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The release of the newest Fantastic Four might signal some of the changes which we can anticipate ahead (there are some spoilers below).
Ant-Man and Wasp
Many expected Ant-Man to be one of the bigger disappointments thus far in the MCU, due to its ongoing problems with the direction, after it passed from Edgar Wright to Peyton Reed. It seemed as though the studio was not going to take any risks with the character as they could not even confirm his role in any future movies. This presumably will all change now that the movie has been released. Although it can’t compare to the financial success of the year’s other Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, it also is noteworthy as being a better critical success, with a better rating at Rotten Tomatoes than Avengers. With both financial and critical success it seems as though there will be more to come from these characters. As was hinted at the end of the movie, there is still a lot of story left to tell as well, as the end hinted that Janet van Dyne might not be truly lost. Furthermore Hope van Dyne was presented with a Wasp suit by her father. There could be a lot of places to take the story of the two heroes, though one in particular might make the most sense …
The Micronauts are a bit of an oddity in comics. They started out as a line of toys, who were written into comics after in the 1970s after Marvel writer Bill Mantlo saw his son open a box of the toys. The series started as somewhat of a standalone, but slowly was incorporated into the Marvel Universe, with appearances by some other mainstream characters. While the rights for the characters do not presently rest with Marvel, there is a long publication history with the characters and as the rights rest with other smaller comic companies, it would likely not be too difficult to reacquire the rights. Furthermore for the film studio that might try to replicate the runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy, they might look smaller instead of bigger and find their next surprise hit there. There would be some hurdles, but also there might be a few benefits, as Janet van Dyne disappeared into the smallest dimension, the Microverse. This small universe is not in itself small, but the pathways to enter it are, and could give an explanation as to where the character disappeared. They might find Janet in the Microverse, but they might also be able to find some other heroes there as well…
The Fantastic Four is one of the best known Marvel properties that does not lie within the company’s grasp at the moment, instead being controlled by Fox. While Fox has managed to control the X-Men franchise strongly enough with some decent movies, the Fantastic Four has mostly been a sequence of failures. The first of the series was good enough to warrant a sequel, but this was before the wake of Marvel movies changed how fans expected superhero movies to turn out. Marvel Studios was looking to be innovative, not just rehash generic action/sci-fi plots with superheroes thrown in. The most recent attempt by Fox to revamp the Fantastic Four might have been an attempt to do the same, to get some new excitement into the mix, but it evidently did not turn out that way. Critical response (and probably financial) will mean that the characters will have to be shelved for a while before the public has forgotten enough about them. Using the Sony/Spider-Man approach, lending the characters back to Marvel Studios might be a wiser choice, one that would probably make more money for both, and one which would keep the fans happy. By this point though, with two origin movies behind them, it might make sense to jump straight into the Fantastic Four with them already established as heroes. They could exist in a similar sense to Hank Pym in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unknown but still present. More so, one of the places that is visited by the Fantastic Four is the Microverse, and if they were stuck there then it would be an easy bridge between Ant-Man and the return of Marvel’s first family.
It is not entirely clear where the rights to Namor presently rest. Kevin Feige has indicated that Marvel, if they desired, could make a Namor movie, but that there would be some “entanglements”. Rights to the movie have rested with Universal, but seem to have at least partially lapsed. What remains is speculated to be the same arrangement with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, that Marvel creates but Universal distributes. While it was not a problem when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still nascent, it seems moving forward that Marvel likes to create and distribute, and to get rewarded financially at 100% for its efforts. It might make exceptions for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four but maybe less so for Namor. Another factor to consider is what DC Comics will manage to do with its own movies. The other of the big two comic companies is playing catchup, but also has the benefit of controlling the movie rights to nearly all of its characters. They have already greenlit an Aquaman movie, but it remains to be seen just how well it will do. Aquaman is after all a hero that is taken not so seriously in pop culture, but if DC can make it work, maybe it will give Marvel second thoughts about its own underwater hero.
The fact that DC Comics is playing catchup in the movie game can also be to the advantage of Marvel. Marvel has already taken its gambles and seen those pay off, as with Guardians of the Galaxy. DC Comics, who are eager to catch up, are also taking their own gambles, and chief among those is the Suicide Squad. Featuring a group of villains forced into a heroic role, it might catch on, or it might flop. Fans certainly will not be very familiar with the concept, and the concept in itself is strange enough that it might not work. On the other hand, it might work, and if yes then it could serve as a gamble that Marvel gets to witness the results of without gambling anything itself. If popular it could use its own villain-turned-heroes team the Thunderbolts and catch the wave of people wanting more Suicide Squad before a sequel to the DC movie comes out. If played right as well it could help quieten those that think that the MCU’s villains are the weakest part of the movies.
Marvel is already a long way along in its development of the Doctor Strange movie, and holds the exclusive rights to the Hulk as long as he is not the featured character in a movie. A Namor movie could be forthcoming depending on the success of Aquaman, and if Fox sees the benefits of doing so, a collaboration might be in the works to return the Fantastic Four and associated characters to the MCU, which would include the Silver Surfer. Those four make up the original four members of the Defenders. For those that are getting a bit tired of seeing the Avengers over and over again on the big screen, it might be an excuse to feature this other Marvel team (although Marvel is working on a street level Defenders television show as well.) One interesting aspect about this team is that as opposed to the Avengers that the original team is made up of all non-street level characters, meaning that the stakes could be higher and that bigger things might happen as a result, such as …
World War Hulk
This has been a long rumored development in the MCU, but also not one that has not yet come to fruition. Marvel has been careful to include in story arcs from the comics, and it has made for some great connections for fans of both mediums. Although World War Hulk is not necessarily the best all time Hulk story, it is up there, and would be a better vehicle for putting a new spin on the Hulk stories, more so than what we are seeing at the movies, with both Hulk movies fitting the same general pattern of the Hulk being hunted by the government after smashing up a bunch of stuff. It would also allow the character to move beyond the Avengers, which is a connection that is not as strong in the comics. Also if all the pieces fell into place, it would mean that a lot of the major players from the crossover might be able to make it into the movie, save for the X-Men.
Rumors abound that another major character will die in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (especially that there are pictures from the set of a funeral sequence), and without any other way to verify this other than by seeing a movie that will not be released until 2016, it still seems likely that one of the characters that might be easiest to kill off would be Hawkeye. He is among the less popular of the main characters in the MCU, and has been almost a footnote to the movies series, appearing to provide fans with another superhero, but also one that doesn’t really do much. Even if he does not die in the movie, it is also worth noting that the character is one which is on the verge of retirement, being somewhat older than the other heroes and with responsibilities to his family. This could leave open the possibility for a Hawkeye movie except not as we might expect. As the movies expand in popularity it makes sense to be closer to four quadrant movies, and one way to do this is to introduce more female characters. If Clint Barton were to retire on screen, it could open the door for Kate Bishop to step up, providing the MCU with another superheroine, and one with a lot more of an edge than Clint.
She-Hulk and Spider-Woman
On that same note, if Marvel is looking to keep its female fans happy it might look to develop these characters as well. Most of the main Marvel superheroines would be tied up elsewhere, with most of the major heroines being members of the X-Men, and other such as Sue Storm or Medusa mostly only operating as parts of teams. Others such as Elektra and even Hellcat are tied to the television series, which mean that only a few major female characters would be left to get the big screen treatment. She-Hulk and Spider-Woman could both be strong contenders to hold down their own movie, especially if Marvel did something unexpected and went off the script with the Spider-Gwen version of Spider-Woman. It would also help to fill the ranks of the Avengers, a team which needs to be mixed up a bit from time to time to keep the roster fresh and the fans intrigued.
Ka-Zar is one of the longest running Marvel characters, but also one that has not had a very solid fanbase in modern years, although unquestionably popular among many. Although Marvel is keen on taking risks, could it make the Savage Land work the same as it made Guardians of the Galaxy work? The Savage Land is the source of many stories within the Marvel Universe, though most of them with the X-Men. Why might the MCU be interested in the Savage Land? It is a fantasy setting, and while it does not match up with other heroes, could still serve as an explanation for the re-appearance of some characters who also happen to be Avengers – Hercules, Tigra or even the Black Knight. It might be a stretch, but Marvel will be looking for new blood for its Avengers as it moves forward, as is evident from the new roster after Age of Ultron. Tigra especially might be interesting, as she not only is her own character, but is also indirectly responsible for the development of Hellcat, whose non-superpowered version is already set to be introduced in the Marvel television show Jessica Jones.
Iron Man 4
This is perhaps the biggest question to solve in phase 4. A big part of what made the MCU so popular is that it based its hopes on the initial movie, Iron Man. If this movie had failed so too would the plans for the shared universe. Success would probably have still come the way of the studio, but it would have been a longer road. Part of the runaway success of the original Iron Man was that Robert Downey Jr. was perfectly cast as Tony Stark, what some might say is not even really acting as he seems to be mostly playing himself. That having been said, superheroes never really age but actors and actresses do. While the studio can get a few more years out of Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson (all in their early to mid 30s), and even a lot more out of Paul Bettany (whose character the Vision wears so much makeup as to be ageless) and Elizabeth Olsen (who is in her mid 20s), it can probably expect less out of Robert Downey Jr, who is now 50. They might push him for a couple more movies, but eventually he will need to be replaced, and the biggest question would then be by who, as the character is one that is of highest importance to the MCU. There might be no bigger question heading forward in the MCU than who will fill this role.
Marvel is pleased to present your first look at Ant-Man & The Wasp #1 (of 3), featuring the work of acclaimed Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley! In left corner, Dr. Hank Pym – founding Avenger, scientific genius and the hero currently known as The Wasp. In the right corner, Eric O’Grady, roustabout, reformed criminal, and Secret Avenger trying to make good for… his theft of Pym’s Ant-Man armor! But before they settle their differences, these two generations of size-shifting Marvel heroes will forced to team-up — and shrink down — to rescue the soul of the former GOLIATH, Bill Foster, from the clutches of AIM! It’s danger on a whole new scale this November in Ant-Man & The Wasp #1 (of 3).