Many of us still haven’t forgiven Marvel for the heart-breaking Infinity War earlier this year, but still we corralled ourselves into the cinema for their next venture, what promised to be a light-hearted, fun-filled blockbuster. Ant Man and the Wasp provided levity by the bucketful, but sadly little else.
As can be expected by the title, AMATW is much smaller in scale than many of the other entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shrinking away from the world-shattering, skyscraper-toppling stakes of its predecessors. While this grounds the film to a certain degree it also denies it any real investment from the audience. At no point do we feel that any of the characters are in true danger. The antagonist was no more serious. An uncompelling and timeworn backstory that should have made us connect with the “villain” only killed time until a predictable conclusion.
When Paul Rudd is at the helm of a film, humour is almost always guaranteed, and Ant Man and the Wasp is certainly no exception. With one-liners and ongoing jokes shimmied into every scene, the film was stuffed to the antennae with comedy. Not every quip hits its mark, but the charismatic ensemble kept things going; before you even begin to cringe at one misfiring joke you’re already chortling at the next. Of course, any amount of levity is welcome after the sunken place that Infinity War took us to. One glaring difference between this film and its predecessor, Ant Man, is the lack of Edgar Wright’s influence. While Wright didn’t finish production on Ant Man, his ideas and sensibilities were still there – things that Ant Man and the Wasp could have greatly benefitted from. Peyton Reed put on an admirable show but couldn’t quite emulate what made the first film tick.
Disappointingly, Ant Man & the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) wasn’t as heavy on the Wasp as you might hope. Being the first film in the MCU’s ten-year tenure to feature a female character’s name in the title, audiences would naturally expect to see plenty of that character. As it turns out, the title is a mislead, and the main story arc instead hinges on the previous generation’s Ant Man and Wasp (Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer). With the exception of a single badass fight scene in the first act, Lilly’s Wasp had a very limited amount of screen time compared to her male counterpart. Despite being referred to as a partner throughout the majority of the film she was little more than a sidekick – an oversight that could really damage Marvel’s reputation considering their existing lack of female representation in their films.
Not only does the film crave progression, it also lacked for a lot of depth. The emotional beats don’t stick the way they should – reunions were obvious and hackneyed, while resolutions were dreary to anyone who’s seen any film before. However, Ant Man and the Wasp tackled the repercussions of life as a superhero with much more potency and success than other films. Rudd’s Scott Lang isn’t a billionaire superpowered alien genius, he is just an average man who has been thrust into an extraordinary situation. The way the film deals with how being an outlawed superhero impacts his relationships is one of its highlights.
Ant Man and the Wasp isn’t as progressive as Black Panther or DC’s Wonder Woman, though the potential was certainly there. Swapping depth for thrills and comedy boxes the film into an easy-to-watch family caper. While this will work for children and the casual viewer, diehard Marvel fans may come out disappointed with its dearth of connections to the other films (save for a mid-credit scene with long-lasting implications).
Image: Marvel Studios