A turning point in Marvel’s universe | Daily News
Ant Man and the Wasp

A turning point in Marvel’s universe

The 20-film-long Marvel Cinematic Universe is made up of dramatic male superheroes with mythic backstories and fantastic powers. When it comes to Marvel, big, macho stories seem their recipes for success.

On the other hand, Ant-Man aka Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an average man who fights crime haphazardly, often ant-sized. The newest film in the series, Ant-Man and the Wasp takes another step forward, pairing Rudd with actress Evangeline Lilly, introducing, for the first time in the Marvel Universe, a female lead in the title.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is couched between two other Marvel movies-the storyline progresses two years after ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and dovetails with the apocalyptic ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Unlike the rest of the Avengers cohort, Lang’s actions have real-world consequences. ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ starts with Lang under house-arrest, after he and several Avengers broke the Sokovia Accords, (that require them to get UN approval before using their powers), in Civil War. In real-person fashion, Lang accepts his two-year sentence, using the time to focus on being a good father to his daughter, Cassie.

However, just three days before the end of his sentence, Lang is reconnected with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the inventor the Ant-Man suit, and to Pym’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Van Dyne, who was introduced in the first Ant-Man as Lang’s love-interest and fighting coach, slips naturally into the role of the Wasp. In addition to the Ant-Man powers of shrinking to the size of a bug and beyond, van Dyne’s suit includes wings and blasters. Her extra powers are indicative of the fact that the Wasp as no mere sidekick. She proves herself not only a capable, elegant fighter, but also a humorous character addition to a series that relies on personality. When Dr. Bill Foster (a scientist and contemporary of Hank Pym) and Scott Lang compare their experiences expanding in the Ant-Man suit—“My record, twenty-one feet. You?” “Sixty-five feet.” Sixty five!”—van Dyne mocks their excessive masculinity, asking if they “are finished comparing sizes.”

The plot of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ centres around the characters’ search for Pym’s wife and van Dyne’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who was known to be lost forever in the subatomic realm. They realise that when Lang slipped into the subatomic realm in the first film, he and Janet van Dyne experienced a quantum entanglement. Their connection through time and space allows the characters to locate Janet van Dyne in the subatomic realm, and attempt to rescue her.

The main villain of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ is the semi-corporeal character Ghost, aka Ava (Hannah John-Kamen). After suffering an atomic-level catastrophe as a child, Ava is able to pass through matter, and because of them, she worked for years as a government assassin under the alias Ghost. But her powers are a vulnerability as well, slowly killing Ava and causing her immense, unyielding pain. Weeks away from disintegrating herself, she dons her identity as Ghost, and steals Pym’s technology to restore her molecular structure.

Despite its superficially complexity, the film’s plot feels a bit stuffy and anti-climactic. The characters are less than multi-dimensional, and the film works best when it falls back on the ‘Ant-Man’ series’ unique formula of humour and mini-tech. Seeing the Hot Wheels cars expand and shrink is endlessly entertaining, and the concept of the rolling-suitcase-laboratory was particularly inventive.

While the Wasp character is given some excellent action scenes—including one where, bug-sized, she dodges knives, meat tenderisers, and smashed vegetables in a kitchen fight-scene-for such a hyped-heroine, the Wasp feels like a dramatic appendage to Ant-Man’s everyday life.

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ provides the levity that the Marvel Universe so often lacks. It was a welcome reprieve after the intensity of the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ conclusion. But perhaps the film was not chosen as the ‘Infinity War’ successor for that reason alone. In the final scene of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’, Lang explores the subatomic realm once more for particles to heal Ava. Pym and the van Dyne women are outside of the quantum tunnel, directing Lang. Suddenly, Pym and the van Dynes become piles of dust, just like half of the Avengers in ‘Infinity War’, and meanwhile Lang remains safe in the subatomic realm. Possibly, Lang’s survival offers a clue to the future of the Avengers series, and the survival of the characters turned to ash. For this reason, it seems likely that Ant-Man will play an important role in the next ‘Avengers’ movie.


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