Welcome back to another edition of the YOMYOMF Blockbuster Showdown, where a group of Offenders watch this season’s biggest Hollywood releases and see how they hold up. Here, we express our VERY SPOILERY OPINIONS on all the big Hollywood tentpoles. For this edition, we review the last Marvel film of the year, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. Was it better than the original? Does it propel some of the cliffhanger narrative threads from INFINITY WAR? Read below and find out!
1. OK, so here’s another Marvel sequel, and also the final Marvel film of the year. How was ANT-MAN AND THE WASP?
BRIAN: So. Much. Fun. This is what a summer blockbuster is all about. What they’re doing with ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (and THOR: RAGNAROK, for that matter) is making an old-school, action-comedy, but instead of cops (BEVERLY HILLS COP, MEN IN BLACK) they’re using super heroes. And while movies about shrinking had their heyday in the 80’s with INNERSPACE and HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, AMATW uses CGI to truly master the childhood wonder of growing and shrinking to fantastic sizes, all in fresh and frenetic ways.
While I was bummed when Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, BABY DRIVER) dropped out of the original ANT-MAN, let’s give it up to Peyton Reed for an astonishing job (see what I did there, nerds?) balancing big laughs with some of the best action direction (from the Wasp kitchen fight to the SF car chase) I’ve seen in awhile. Also, I think Paul Rudd is the male Sandra Bullock. He’s freakin’ delightful in everything.
LAUREN: I can’t believe we’re at the final Marvel film of the year already, and it’s only July. Disney REALLY needs to spread out these films more.
LIZ: Lauren, I think Disney has so many franchises now that they’re spreading them out in seasons. I believe Marvel gets the summer blockbuster dates and Star Wars gets the holiday blockbuster period. But that’s just me hypothesizing in my living room so you know it’s super insider info. LOL.
LAUREN: Anyway, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP was a fun movie. While I saw the first one not by choice, it was entertaining enough to where I had to see the follow-up. I like the concept behind being a superhero that has both the capability to grow and shrink as needed. Also, maybe I’m biased, but the fact that it’s set in San Francisco is always a win.
BRIAN: Shout out to the Yay Area and the Berkeley campus!
LAUREN: YEEESSS! I swear, every scene that was CLEARLY shot in the Bay Area, I thought to myself, “I could have been an extra in that scene and that scene, had I known where to go and when.”
LIZ: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP had everything a summer blockbuster needs: incredible fight choreography, spectacular chase scenes, charismatic actors like Paul Rudd and Michael Peña. Plotwise it felt cluttered. The first movie was super clear in that it was a redemption story for Rudd’s character. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP was all over the place and suffered from the “let’s add more bad guys to throw the audience off” moments. We had less scenes between Rudd and the con-crew, which was part of the magic of the first ANT-MAN. But was it a fun romp? Sure. Was it as fun as THOR: RAGNAROK? No.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I agree that it was not as good as THOR: RAGNAROK, however, I think I enjoyed it a tad more that you, Liz. What I like about the ANT-MAN movies is that they’re smaller in scale (yes, lots of puns in the review) and don’t deal with the “end of the world” scenarios like the other MCU films. I would equate it more with SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING and how it was very much a story that takes place in its neck of the woods (Queens).
I liked the first ANT-MAN more, because it was a heist movie and was tighter plot-wise, but AMATW really expanded the scope of the Quantum Realm and I loved the tie-in with MCU history, especially with S.H.I.E.L.D., which sure, the first one had too, but this was definitely rooted more in the lore, especially with Hank Pym’s work and the consequences of his actions, intentional or accidental. Plus, Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp totally kicked ass. She stole the movie for me.
2. People say that the ANT-MAN series is inconsequential to the overall MCU grand scheme. Agree or disagree?
BRIAN: I loved the original ANT-MAN for how small it was in the grand scheme of the MCU (how many ant puns can we fit in this blog?).
LIZ: *snaps fingers for Brian in appreciation*
BRIAN: But non-comic book nerds may not know that both Ant Man and the Wasp were original Avengers back when the comic book premiered in 1963. So it’s fitting that Marvel’s 20th film hat-tips to two of Marvel’s O.G.’s (although the Wasp gets the shaft in the top-billing – hey, it was the 60’s).
That said, randos on the Internets are positing that Ant-Man may be one of the most important characters in the future MCU. And signs are pointing to the “quantum realm” being a key component to bringing all the dusted heroes back from AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. It would be fitting for the smallest, and seemingly least powerful, hero to be the one who saves the day.
LAUREN: As I’ve reiterated many times in past discussions for other Marvel movies, I’m not as in tune with this universe to really have a say on such matters as that. But given what happens in that one credits scene, I think Ant-Man’s role is about to become much more grand in the larger scheme of things.
LIZ: Kevin Feige is the only one who knows all. I honestly have no opinion if Ant-man will be a big or small player in the MCU overall storyline, but I’m here for Ant-man saving the day. It’ll definitely be a win for the “little guys.” (PUN POWERS ACTIVATED).
ANDERSON: Well, if that first end credits teaser in any indication, then it can go either way. With Ant-Man stuck in the Quantum Realm, I can see it greatly affecting him and perhaps he will gain some kind of new power that could have him cross over with Doctor Strange in a later MCU film, but I think he will be sidelined during AVENGERS 4.
3. This is also the first Marvel film where a female superhero is not only a co-star, but shares title credit. How was Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne aka the Wasp?
LAUREN: I liked her. It was clear from the first film that if given the opportunity, she would have kicked butt in the Ant-Man suit. We finally get to see her do so as the Wasp, making her the proficient badass as predicted. And before the snarky trolls of the Internet start going off about her being a Mary Sue, I honestly beg to differ. Remember that she’s been in this game way longer than Scott.
With that in mind, you have to ask yourself: If one of the two characters was made a sidekick rather than a partner to the other, who would it have been? It’s pretty clear that Ant-Man would have been suited for that role.
BRIAN: I grew up reading comics. And truth be told, I always thought the Wasp was the lamest character. She was kind of like Tinkerbell in spandex, constantly hovering around the action, but never really doing anything.
But good-god, Evangeline Lilly kicked so much ass in this film. I mean, for little girls around the world, I think the Wasp just dethroned Wonder Woman as the top female superhero.
LIZ: HARD NOPE BRIAN. Wonder Woman is WAAAAAY cooler than Wasp. Not even close. All Wasp wanted to do in this movie was see her mom again. Wonder Woman wanted to save the world from the God of War. Marvel still can’t figure out how to make cool female superheroes without having a guy be the lead in a movie. Did Evangeline Lilly have great fight scenes? Yes. But did we ever see great emotional depth and change in her character? No. She never had a moment of change in the film.
BRIAN: I agree her character could have gone on a bigger journey. Although I’d argue that finally finding her mother made her whole again – and there’s a father-daughter redemption theme throughout these films. But who needs change when you’re the Wasp and you can eat Black Widows for breakfast? HARD YES LIZ. I will not be denied my hot take. WASP > WONDER WOMAN! Anderson, settle this, school-yard, nerd-style: Who would win in a fight between Lilly’s Wasp and Gadot’s Wonder Woman? I say Wasp because science.
ANDERSON: Why am I being presented with this Sophie’s Choice? I do agree that DC has the more iconic superheroes that are household names — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman — But Marvel has the scrappier heroes with attitude. Wonder Woman is definitely grander in scope, but Wasp had her own personal journey and it was a narrative continuation from the first film. Both Hope and Hank were driven with this rescue mission and yes, it’s myopic, but emotionally it made sense.
Like all Marvel heroes who are not gods or from outer space, they were relatable and Evangeline Lilly played it both cool, driven and definitely always in control.
LIZ: IMO, Wasp always felt secondary to Ant-man in this movie. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP wasn’t a partner movie, it was all about Rudd’s journey. If Marvel wants to do a true female superhero movie, they need to make one with a woman as the lead. Not just an equal co-star.
BRIAN: CAPTAIN MARVEL says “Hold my beer…”
ANDERSON: Nah, the Wasp owned this movie. My gripe is with Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. I kind of think he was a bit too buffoonish in the sequel and a regression of how he was introduced in the first film. He was a cool cat burglar, but in this one, he kept fucking up.
4. OK, let’s cut to the chase. How were the teasers during the end credits? Let’s geek out!
LAUREN: So I didn’t see INFINITY WAR, but I know what happens in it. It’s just that I got so caught up in watching this movie, that I forgot that that former movie existed. My mouth dropped open when Hope, Janet, and Hank had all disintegrated, which really sucks, given that they all JUST reunited as a family.
I can’t even imagine how Scott is going to react when he finds out what happened to them, but given where he was when it happened, something tells me he’s going to play a role in getting them, along with the other Avengers who disintegrated, back.
LIZ: OMG OMG OMG. It was so cool seeing the Van Dyne family working together. Plus, Look at Scott Lang being a team player with the Van Dyne’s getting all subatomic to help Ghost alive and then…
Mama, Papa, and Baby Girl Van Dyne ALL GOT DEMADE BY THANOS.
Yeah. That shit happened. Scott is stuck in the subatomic realm and now everyone’s dead. So you know what that means? LOWER REAL ESTATE PRICES IN THE BAY AREA!!! YAS!!! Let’s go buy up some property in SF!!!
BRIAN: I get it, Liz. So the end may have been a little “ant-iclimactic” (PUN POWERS REACTIVATED).
ANDERSON: OK, the puns are getting out of hand now.
5. Ghost was the main villain in the film. Cookie cutter villain or up there with Loki and Thanos? Thoughts?
LAUREN: I can’t draw comparisons to Thanos, for he is a villain I am not that familiar with. As for Loki, Ghost is way more sinister than him. Loki wanted a throne; she wants to live. You can’t blame her for some of the things she does, making her someone you can sympathize with.
LIZ: Was Ghost the main villain? OR was it Dr. Bill Foster? OR was it Sonny Burch? OR was it the FBI? OR was it time???????????
Look, Ava/Ghost was cool. I thought the effects they did with her character were dope. But she was pretty one-note and god bless Hannah John-Kamen for reciting that boatload of exposition to get the audience up to speed on her background. Jesus that was a long one. I wish they had established what the rules were of her being solid and being ghosty were. That was confusing. But was she up there with Loki or Thanos? Nope. But did she have fun fight scenes? YAS QUEEN.
BRIAN: But wait. Was Ghost a villain or an “ant-ihero”? Okay, I’ll really stop now.
ANDERSON: Neither. I think she is closer to the Winter Soldier. They were both made this way by experimentation and the main villain was Hydra, who used them as assassins over the years. She’s collateral damage and it would be great to have Ghost come back in future MCU movies. Maybe as part of the long rumored all female Marvel team-up movie?
6. Any Asians in the film?
LAUREN: Fellow Offenders, Randall Park is in the house!!! When I first heard he’d be in this film, I got pretty psyched to see him. He brought the kind of humor that he is known for to the character of Jimmy Woo. He was one of many reasons why this film brought numerous moments of laughter to me.
LIZ: Randall Park was awesome in every single one of his scenes I WAS HERE FOR ALL OF IT. His moments on screen with Rudd were delightful. Can we ask him to do close up magic in the next film he’s in?
Also, let’s give it up for Divian Ladwa as Uzman. His back and forth with Michael Peña about the truth serum had to be one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. Delightful delightful stuff.
BRIAN: Randall Park needs a spin-off, half-hour, Netflix comedy about a San Francisco FBI Agent, trying to catch super-villains like Stilt Man, who just wants reasonably-priced Warriors tickets. They could call it JIMMY WOO: ACCIDENTAL AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
ANDERSON: Damn, Brian. Your comic nerd prowess is on full force in this review. What did you do to Dominic and where is he stashed away?
7. Where does the MCU go from here? Predictions on next year’s CAPTAIN MARVEL and AVENGERS 4?
LAUREN: If done right, I can only imagine CAPTAIN MARVEL being just as – if not more – successful than DC’s WONDER WOMAN. As for AVENGERS 4, like I said before, I can already see Ant-Man playing a much bigger role in it than originally anticipated.
LIZ: OMG. If CAPTAIN MARVEL ended up being Marvel’s WONDER WOMAN I would cry. It only took Marvel HOW MANY YEARS TO MAKE A FEMALE SUPERHERO MOVIE????? Thank the lawd it’s finally happening and they better not screw it up.
In regards to AVENGERS 4: HIT DA FLOOR, only our lord and savior Fiege knows. But if it ends up being something dumb like “it was all a dream” or using an infinity stone to turn back time, imma be real angry.
BRIAN: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Keep giving us fun, unexpected, emotional stories that happen to have kick-ass superheroes in them. Let’s see a woman pry that Infinity Gauntlet out of Thanos’s hand and save the Marvel Universe. Let’s work out that Fox deal and see a proper FANTASTIC FOUR film. And if all that doesn’t work, I’ve got a pitch called JIMMY WOO: ACCIDENTAL AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
ANDERSON: They are so setting up Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers as the savior that will make it all right in AVENGERS 4. She has cosmic, alien originated powers and will bring something crucial to the table. I still think, and hope, it will be a bloodbath and that there will be some real casualties with some O.G. heroes staying dead or the ones who didn’t burst into ashes, will be dead. I can’t wait!
8. Rate it! 1 Banana (Bad) 4 Bananas (Great)
LAUREN: 3 Bananas. I was entertained in the way that only an ANT-MAN film can, and so in that regard, I was satisfied. Beyond next year’s AVENGERS film, I wonder where this particular story can be taken next.
LIZ: 3 Bananas. From the out of the box fight and chase scenes to the onscreen charisma of Rudd and Peña, I had a fun time watching this summer blockbuster. The story was a little weak but it was a fun popcorn romp.
BRIAN: 3.5 Bananas. It’s like superhero summer camp. A cinematic high-five. Pure summer fun. Can’t wait to go with my daughter so she can have her own superhero to cheer for.
ANDERSON: 3.25 Bananas. It was a lot of fun, but I agree with Liz that the story was a bit all over the place, but I thought the characters, especially Ghost, were strong. There’s definitely a more loose improv style to the comedy that was all Rudd and even Randall Park that I really dug. Not all of it landed, but it’s refreshing to see stuff like this.
Lauren Lola (@akolaurenlola) is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of the novels A MOMENT’S WORTH and AN ABSOLUTE MIND. She has had writing published for Entropy Magazine, Kollaboration, Multiracial Media, Hapa Mag, and other publications. She is a regular contributor to YOMYOMF. More information about her and her work can be found on her website, Lola By The Bay.
Brian Watanabe (@BrianWatanabe) is an advertising creative, blogger, screenwriter and Star Wars nerd. His screenplay THE ROGUES GALLERY was turned into the film OPERATION: ENDGAME starring Rob Corddry, Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin and Zach Galifianakis.
Liz Ho (@TheLizHoShow): Is a fortune cookie: a crispy-Asian-American-treat that will give you useless advice & lotto numbers. She loves STAR TREK, al pacasso, STAR WARS (IV-VI), working on her YouTube Channel, reading, and taking daily pictures of my rescued ewok dogs, Cooper and Coco. She is also an actor.