Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (in theaters)
Post-Blip Scott Lang has his life together—he’s in love with (engaged? Married to?) Hope, who is running PymCorp in her father’s absence. Hank and Janet are having fun reconnecting and playing indulgent grandparents to Cassie, and he’s now a famous Avenger. He’s even written a book, and has a life that 95% of all working authors wished they had—sales and people to show up at the readings. But Cassie is a chip off the old block and she just wants to help. In between protests, she has worked on a device that will let them explore the Quantum Realm safely, like launching the Hubble Telescope into the Microverse (yeah, I said The Microverse. More on that later.) Janet, who spent 30 years in the QR, maybe didn’t mention that, on top of everything else going on there, it’s also the repository of Kang the Conqueror.
Phase 4 of the MCU has been fraught with digital naysayers, flipping out that Disney made Hulk into a woman. While it’s safe to completely ignore them for dozens of reasons, the overall vibe amongst the faithful is that Marvel has lost a step. I disagree. They are still making steps, very deliberate ones, and those step involve walking away from the characters and comics that hit me in the feels and moving towards the comics I’m not as personally invested in.
It's pretty obvious that the Bronze Age stories are giving way to the post 2K stories, featuring younger iterations of the characters that have been a part of the Marvel stable of heroes going back 80 years in some cases. In geological time, this is an eyeblink, but for younger comic book readers, many of whom were too young to remember hoarding beef jerky and bottled water during the Y2K scare, they’ve never known any different.
To put this in perspective, the Young Avengers first showed up in 2005. They are, as a concept, 18 years old. They will be old enough to drink when they finally get to be in a movie. Compare that with Spawn, which premiered in his own comic book in 1992. The Spawn movie came out in 1997. I’m bringing this up simply to curtail the objection that the Young Avengers haven’t paid their pop cultural dues, or what-have-you. In fact, the Young Avengers are literally a new generation’s heroes.
What’s more, Disney/Marvel is giving them their due—in fact, they are introducing these characters in a time-honored tradition—within a larger story involving the current heroes. That’s every single sidekick ever. That’s every legacy hero, passing of the mantle, take up the old family business story ever written about these characters, with very few exceptions.
I’m going to play the generational card now. For my peeps (GenX), this is...well, we knew it wouldn’t last forever. Most of us are simply thrilled that we finally got our day in the sun. Moreover, what we got from Marvel Studios made up for Reb Brown’s motorcycle helmet, Lou Ferrigno’s green flip-flops, Rex Reed’s ninja costume, David Hasselhoff, Roger Corman, and last but certainly not least, Nicholas Hammond’s metallic disco ball-sized clothesline extruder.
For GenZ, why wouldn’t this be the next thing? The only problem is they aren’t doing it fast enough, bro. The technology is there, and has been for their entire lives. But better late than never, I guess.
As for the Millennials, I suspect they are the ones currently losing their damn minds online about stuff they think the movie got wrong. They also make YouTube videos where they talk out of their ass about aspects of comic book history that they could easily get the facts on if they bothered to research, read a book, talk to someone older than them, etc. but that’s not the way to get clicks, so instead, they make a funny face on their video cover and crap on stuff that wasn’t meant for them, and then get offended when new stuff coming out doesn’t match the specific thing in their head. I mean, it really seems to jam them up that a certain storyline deviated, or a character wasn’t included, or that this one thing that meant so much to them was somehow omitted from the two hour movie.
All this to say, yeah, of course, I’m not going to have the same emotional reaction to Cassie Lang/Stinger as a 50+ year old man that I had to the first appearance of Scott Lang I bought off of a newsstand for two quarters and biked home to read at the age of 10. These movies no longer dovetail with my experiences, not really. And that’s cool with me, it really is. But starting with this movie, the kick-off to Phase Five, the Marvels films will have to stand on their own merit. And in this respect, I liked Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quadromania, but I didn’t love it.
Conceptually, it mostly takes place in the Quantum Realm, a place I strongly suspect will be expanded to include The Negative Zone (to help us get the Fantastic Four onscreen) and the Microverse (and oh, how sweet would a Micronauts TV show be? NO SLEEP ‘TIL BUG!) I enjoyed my brief forays into Dr. Strange’s magic realms, and the pop-ins to the Quantum Realm in movies past, but this whole movie is another version of the Star Wars cantina scene, writ large, and it even includes a guest appearance by Nick Rivers, for crying out loud.
There are a few things I loved about the movie, but that would be a spoiler. There are a few things I liked about the movie, which would also spoil stuff. And there are a couple of things, mostly technical nature, that I did not like about the movie. On the whole, yeah, it’s a good baton hand-off from Ant-Man and the Wasp to Stinger. I think they did a fantastic job of showing how Cassie grew up to be exactly like her dad. Also, the movie has the best repurposing of the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song of all time. Darren Cross’ fate is also revealed, and it’s both wonderful and sad. Unfortunately, it’s the special effect that kept kicking me out of the story, despite me saying, “Well, I never thought in a million years I’d see that guy in a movie.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quadromania both giveth, and it taketh away. My suggestion is to go see it in 3D. It’ll rock your socks off. And treat it like it’s the 31st installment for a series with at least another 25 chapters to go.
Oh, and if you think the Chuckleheads of YouTube are upset about this? Just wait until November 10th when they hate-watch The Marvels. On second thought? Don’t.
And I am really okay with that. I think it’s healthy to know that not every genre movie fired out of Hollywood is aimed at or intended for you (the Royal you, I mean). I frankly think it’s exhausting trying to keep everything straight these days. I am looking forward to The Flash movie, though.
Nice essay, and it reveals to me why I'm not nearly as interested in the MCU as I once was. I had a much older brother-in-law give me a lot of Marvel comics in the late 60's. Spiderman #1, FF #3 where they get their costumes, Avenger's where Cap joins and Hulk leaves, and Strange Tales where Tony Stark offers the directorship of Shield to Sgt. Fury. I missed Hank Pym as Ant-Man. I remember him mainly as Giant Man and later Goliath. I had the issue of Tales of Suspense where Hawkeye was introduced as a villain. My knowledge of Marvel disappears by the early 70's. I kept up with Superman and Batman until sometime in the 80's. So all the newer stuff, from Guardians of the Galaxy (with the stupidest person ever leading them), She Hulk (actually, I've never liked the original Hulk much either), etc. have absolutely zero interest for me. So obviously it's a generational thing for me, being a tail-end Boomer. I'm no longer the target market. You everyone knows how much Boomers hate not being the target market ;)