Ant-Man and The Wasp was one of two movies whose cinema release was delayed in the UK because of the FIFA World Cup, the other being The Incredibles 2, a stereotype defying decision that had comics fans in shock at the thought that they might share a love of superheroes with football supporters. In the event, it was a wise decision as a super hot July meant holiday makers had better things to do than sit in a sun free cinema, I know I did. And in any case the warmth ensured everyone had enough ants and record numbers of wasps to deal with in real life.
On this occasion the magic of Hollywood has pulled a Schrödinger’s cat out the hat, a film that fluctuates between a grown-up summer blockbuster and a children’s adventure. This may be because my view point was a cinema packed full of young boys and girls who had brought their Mums or Dads along to meet the demands of a 12A certificate. Or it may be because the appropriate trailers accompanying the move were more obviously child-like Fahrenheit such as The House With a Clock in its Walls, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. But principally, the film features a lot of children as protagonists; particularly Cassie Lang (Madeleine McGraw), Scott (Ant-Man) Lang’s daughter, who feature in the film’s opening scenes with the pair acting out an adventure with an elaborate labyrinth of cardboard boxes.
The film is motivated by two McGuffins: one, the hunt for Janet Van Dayne (the original Wasp) here played as an adult by Michelle Pfeiffer and, two, a amusingly ridiculous chase to rescue Henry (Michael Douglas) Pyme’s office block which has been shrunk to the size of aircraft cabin case complete with handles. Chasing an luggage sized office around the streets of San Francisco proves to be a right carry-on, with Ant-Man becoming Giant-Man, often at random. Mildly amusing consequences ensue. But really, it is the family dynamics that give the movie heart. We care about Henry Pyme’s search for his wife, who fell into the quantum realm while shrinking to defuse a missile and his Fatherly concern that his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) , won’t suffer the same fate while larking around with Lang.
It’s an incredible tribute to the film makers that they manage to actually reflect the audience’s own dynamic of parental guardians and their wide-eyed offspring working together to sort things out. The film certainly raise many vocalised questions in its audiences’ minds such as “Mummy, what is happening to that man?”, “What are those things?” and “Why does that woman keep disappearing?” “That woman” being the film’s ostensible super villain, The Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen, here a troubled young woman with a severe case of quantum untanglement that causes her to phase in and out of existence.
What is impressive is the film’s confidence, its breezy mix of family drama, special effects, and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) continuity. The film is set two years after Captain America: Civil War, repetitively referred to as that time in Russia and is brought bang up to-date with mid-end credit nod to Avengers: Infinity War. There is a scattering of ant jokes and the various ants (some acknowledged in the credits) are entertainingly all over the place: helping Henry Pym build a quantum tunnel, providing seagull fodder, and helping Lang convince the authorities that he is still at home obeying his tag enforced probation.
I smiled wryly when Henry Pym’s former partner in weird science Bill (Laurence Fishburne) says that the pair worked together on a projected called ‘Goliath’ and, indeed, a scene featuring him as (Black) Goliath was apparently considered. Personally, I hope that we will get to see some of Ant-Man’s sillier super villains including Egg Head, The Human Top and the Porcupine, who shoots various noxious gasses out of a suit made of quill like tubes. These days that sort of thing is known as ‘fan service’ which grants fans far more power than they actually have. As Ant-Man and the Wasp shows, Marvel movies serve a wider audience parents, children and football fans too.
• Ant-Man and The Wasp is still in UK cinemas | Official web site
• The Ant-Man and the Wasp blu-ray and DVD release date is estimated for October 2018 and availabity on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes is estimated for October 2018
All images copyright Marvel
A freelance journalist and Doctor Who fanzine editor since 1978, Tim Robins has written on comics, films, books and TV programmes for a wide range of publications including Starburst, Interzone, Primetime and TV Guide. His brief flirtation with comics includes ghost inking a 2000AD strip and co-writing a Doctor Who strip. He reviewed comics and films in posts and podcasts for the Mindless Ones until he became a net diva and forgot to name check the rest of the team at a San Diego Comic Con panel. The Mindless Ones gave him the nickname ‘Tymbus’.
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