How do our favorite micro heroes factor into the snap heard ’round the MCU?
As far as Marvel headscratchers go, Ant-Man and the Wasp seems like an obvious self-contained story with very little tissue connecting the film to the looming horror of Avengers 4. As was the case with the original, director Peyton Reed supplies a palate cleanser to the dark and gloomy tragedies of the Avengers event movie. On the other hand, where Ant-Man 1 could simply dive into a heist comedy structure a la Ocean’s Eleven, throughout its runtime Ant-Man and the Wasp has a terrifying inevitable doom hanging over its head. Thanos has gotta snap.
What is there to explain about the latest Marvel sequel? The climax is basically a chase to the Quantum Realm between two superpowered factions and one wannabe player. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) gets there first, donning a new suit, and piloting an exploratory vessel into the microverse. While he navigates a hazardous path through ravenous tardigrades, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) battle the phasing attacks of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), her meddling mentor Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), and the MCU’s latest diabolical businessman Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins).
After a quick case of bodily possession, thanks to their Quantum connection, the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) uses Scott’s body to establish a tether between realities. Pym follows this signature and discovers that his wife has been living a miniaturized Mad Max lifestyle since the eighties. As an added bonus, Janet van Dyne now has the ability to channel Quantum energy and restore Ghost’s physical structure, cleansing her of an all-consuming rage.
Sonny Burch gets a taste of his own medicine when Luis (Michael Peña) and his X-Con cronies (T.I. and David Dastmalchian) zap ’em with a taser and give him a dose of “truth serum.” Scott races back to his house before the FBI can catch the supersized ant wearing his ankle monitor, and all is right in the world. Happy ending, high-fives all around.
The Marvel fanatic, of course, knows not to get out of their seat when the theater lights initially brighten. They also know that the mid-credits tag has to address Infinity War’s heinous disintegrating gauntlet snap. If Spider-Man and Black Panther are nothing but dust in the wind, how can Scott Lang survive such brutal judgment?
We fade back in on Scott, Hope, Hank, and Janet conducting another fact-finding mission into the Quantum Realm. The Pym laboratory has been made more portable and placed in the back of the X-Con van. Before Scott goes subatomic, Janet warns him to avoid those pesky “Time Vortexes.” Practically incapable of worry, Scott dives into the realm once thought unreturnable, and Hank tracks his course via his computer set-up.
While Scott awaits being fished out of the Quantum Realm, Thanos has snapped his fingers across the seas in Wakanda. Half of the human population fades from existence, and that includes Hank, Hope, and Janet. What was mostly fun and games at the movies is suddenly transformed into a real downer. Even for Ant-Man and the Wasp, there is no escaping the cold arithmetic of the Mad Titan.
Return to credits, and the Marvel zombies await the second stinger that will hopefully lift their spirits. We scroll through the countless digital artists responsible for the 20th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and our patience is rewarded with the horribly hollow tone of the emergency broadcast system. Inside Scott’s delightful townhouse is his supersized ant wailing away on the drums. The world has gone to hell, but the ant is lost in his Scott Lang mimicry.
What was once joyous is reduced to a monstrous question mark, “Ant-Man and the Wasp will return…?” Peyton Reed gave us a brief respite from the misery of Infinity War, but his film still manages to leave us full of dread. Thanks a lot.
Fear not. Our heroes will be back. The secret lies within the Quantum Realm. Marvel’s tiniest Avenger has a tremendous amount of untapped potential at his fingertips. The trick will be accessing that resource without the smarts of Hope and Hank. Also, there is Janet’s not-so-throwaway line about “Time Vortexes.” Obviously, that will have to come into play at some point.
There has been some speculation that Hope Van Dyne is still alive despite the Thanos snap. Not sure how that works, but again, “Time Vortexes” could cure all. When Scott finds himself sucked into one, the first person he’ll travel towards is The Wasp. Partners till the end.
Plus, if Bill Foster and Ghost were not snapped, then they could provide Scott with some much-needed backup. In what initially felt like a deleted scene left inside the climax, Foster finds Ghost huddled in disillusion. He convinces her to keep going, not to flee into self-loathing, but to allow him to continue to help her through her metamorphosis. While Janet may have cured Ghost of her pain, she probably didn’t erase her superpowers. Maybe what Janet did through the process of Quantum healing was to access Ghost’s capability to control her mutation.
At the very least, as we postulated last week, Ant-Man and the Wasp has opened up the possibility of several new narrative avenues, including a solo Wasp movie. We’re already screaming for Black Widow, Shuri, and Okoye spinoffs, but now we’ll take a Ghost and Bill Foster/Goliath film as well. Or more frankly, give us our damn all-female A-Force film already. That should be the mega event Phase 4 builds towards next.