In some ways Ant-Man and the Wasp is the kind of movie I wanted Ant-Man to be: namely, a refreshing antidote to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s not just the light, breezy tone and the witty gags. Humor is nothing new to the MCU; on the contrary, obligatory Guardians-style whimsy has become a jarring and even cynical tonal anomaly in apocalypses like Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.
But there’s a lightness to Ant-Man and the Wasp that goes beyond the gags. No one even mentions Infinity Stones, and the fate of the universe, the planet, or even Asgard or Wakanda is not at stake.
There are no obligatory cameos by other heroes, like Falcon in the first Ant-Man (or Iron Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming, another relatively small-scale MCU excursion). After their mutual absence in Infinity War, I half expected Hawkeye to show up in Ant-Man’s new adventure, but he doesn’t, thank goodness.
There’s some talk about the epic airport battle in Germany from Captain America: Civil War, and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, the neophyte Ant-Man, can’t help name-dropping “Cap.” In general, though, Ant-Man and the Wasp is less shackled to the rest of the MCU than any post-Avengers Marvel sequel — at least until the downbeat mid-credits stinger.
There’s an antagonist called Ghost who is not out to exterminate or enslave, and in fact doesn’t particularly want to harm anyone (but is willing to). Laurence Fishburne shows up as an old partner-turned-rival of Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and turns out to be a more interesting character than you’d expect. A gang of petty thugs led by Walton Goggins supply modest levels of menace.
It’s all extremely not extreme.
Three years ago, when Marvel first announced that Ant-Man would be getting his own movie, I tweeted, “I don’t care how much money Avengers makes. The world does not need an Ant-Man movie.” Ant-Man, I felt, was too minor a hero, too obscure and inconsequential — in a word, too small — to warrant the big-screen Marvel movie treatment.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.