July 4, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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MCU Rewatch Issue #20: Ant-Man And The Wasp

After the dire circumstances of Infinity War, Marvel lightens the mood a bit.

We’re a day away from Endgame, what better time to review the first film that takes place during…uh, before?…oh I give up. It was released after Infinity War anyways.

tomk: Ant-Man and the Wasp

jimmy: I’m most curious to see if this holds up for Watson.

tomk: I thought it held up great as a nice movie with (no pun intended) small stakes compared to the rest of the MCU outside the Netflix stuff.

watson: It really did. I’ve seen it a couple of times since and I still really like it. Still a 9 or 9.5. The humor of this one just nails it. I didn’t love the first one but this one is great comedy.

Michael Pena still cracks me up. Randall Park is almost as funny. And Paul Rudd is a breath of fresh air even when he isn’t holding up my picture in disgust.

tomk: I want a buddy movie of some kind with Pena and Walton Goggins.

watson: Or Pena and Park.
Or Pena and (fill in the blank).

tomk: Pena and Evans?

watson: I will concede this: the entire A-plot is just filler for me and I still like this movie. Like whatever scam they are running in an Ocean’s 11 movie, the superhero stuff here is an excuse for Rudd and his knuckleheads to cut it up.

That is why Evangeline Lilly sticks out like a sore thumb in this movie. She really has no personality. Same as with her role of Kate in Lost. She might just be a one dimensional actress.

tomk: I can agree with that. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as you did, but I look at something like Goggin’s Sonny Burch and I ask myself why this guy is so involved in the plot and the answer I come up with is I don’t care because he’s so entertaining as are most of the cast. Sure, they may waste Bobby Carnivale and Judy Greer this time around, but it’s just a fun movie.

watson: Goggins seemed to be there so there could be a “real” villain so Ghost could be more of a sympathetic antagonist.

But like you, I’m glad he was.

And Tom?

That WAS truth serum.

tomk: Stuff like that just points to this one being a more solid movie than the first, seeing as how that one was probably pieced together with whatever Edgar Wright left behind and this one was more or less all Payton Reed’s work.

watson: Eh. I like the second one better than the origin story most times. The fun starts quicker.

tomk: And Park does some nice info dump setting up the plot in the beginning.

jimmy: I thought it was the same as the first time I watched it. Perfectly fine, but completely irrelevant. Pena’s great, but the “fast talking recap” just seemed like sequelitits. And I liked the post credits scene for what it was, but the timing of it in line with Infinity War still bugs me. Yes, I’m a nerd.

tomk: The MCU could use more irrelevant. Not everything these characters do needs to be a big everyone-is-in-danger scenario.

jimmy: Well, it certainly didn’t help that both times I watched this was right on the heels of watching Infinity War.

I get your point, but it didn’t do a lot for me. Like I said, before Watson wakes up and accuses me of being a hater, it was fine. Just nothing special. Certainly not a 9/10. Definitely not better than Jumaji. 🙂

tomk: Well, Jimmy, stop watching the light-hearted caper flick after the “Spider-Man dies!” movie.

watson: (Alarm Clock Goes Off)

Jimmy is a f*&^ing hater

jimmy: There it is.

watson: Listening to you two bickering on about this film’s necessity in the MCU made me realize why I liked it so much (and why I don’t like you guys): this movie succeeded for me despite being in the MCU not because it was in the MCU. Not every movie should have to build toward Thanos. This movie was a fun caper with hilarious characters. Enjoy THIS movie and not its role in bringing about Endgame. Because if that’s your standard, the MCU is going to be mighty boring post-April 25th.

tomk: Were we bickering?

jimmy: I get that. And not everything has to be a huge cosmic threat, that doesn’t mean they can’t be better. Homecoming was low key and that was great. The original Ant-Man was low key and that was…better than this.

watson: Hmm. Those are legitimate arguments, Jimmy. Well thought. Well reasoned. I shall offer an equally thoughtful retort.

You’re shit.

tomk: You know one thing I noticed about this movie that I really liked? It didn’t take the final action sequence off somewhere remote where the only witnesses are participants. I came across some MCU criticism that points out that since Whedon left, many MCU movies put the final action setpiece where the only people in any real danger are the heroes themselves. Even Homecoming did that when Spidey took Vulture off to a remote beach to defeat in the end. But no, plenty of witnesses here snapping pics…

watson: The first Avengers movie? Does the final confrontation with Loki in Stark Tower count? The big action was in NYC.

jimmy: Often it is on purpose to avoid potential collateral damage.

tomk: I said “since Whedon left”.

watson: Ah. Got it. Still having my first coffee.

tomk: Whedon stuck his action scenes in the middle of crowded cities.

watson: I thought it said a criticism OF Whedon.
“Steer clear of civilians” would seem to be in the Superhero 101 playbook, though…

tomk: Compare that to the Russos where Civil War’s big fight takes place in an empty airport and a remote mountain base or how the streets of New York clear out pretty quick when the Children of Thanos show up.

And that’s a good rule, but it does take away from the sense of peril for outsiders if superheroes are supposed to be saving lives.

watson: I wonder how much the criticism of Man of Steel played into that?
Which I never understood why MoS got criticized for mass destruction while Avengers got a pass….

tomk: Well, Metropolis has a giant crater at the end of MoS. that looks bigger than a football field.

watson: Those monsters were ripping down buildings in Manhattan. At least a million people had to have died that day.

tomk: MoS shows Superman mostly trying to stop Zod (as he should) but he doesn’t seem to be really trying to save lives until he does his own version of The Snap. The Daily Planet people were doing more to save lives during the fight. But in Avengers, we do see people scrambling and the Avengers taking time to help onlookers. Look how Cap jumps in to save that building full of people in the middle of the fight.

watson: Divide and conquer works better with a team. Superman’s best way to save lives IS to stop Zod.

tomk: True, I am not denying that. But we actually see people in danger in Avengers. MoS mostly shows the destruction. And I do like MoS.
And that’s just a general criticism of the MCU. Everything lately seems to be where only the heroes are in danger.

watson: Or they gloss over the danger and ignore it with a sunny camera filter.

tomk: I’m fine with that, and it doesn’t cover every movie (Ragnarok for example), but I notice it here when Ant-Man has to go through a crowded city to save the lab.

watson: Yeah, but there really wasn’t any catastrophic danger. It was a car chase and then a giant hero thumped a guy in a suit on a ferry.

tomk: But isn’t part of the fun of a superhero story the general awe of seeing superheroes do stuff?

jimmy: I’ll give Ant-Man and The Wasp this…it was better than Man of Steel. 🙂

tomk: Jimmy really wants that hater label.

jimmy: Or Watson Troll label.

tomk: Watson is an expert on trolling.

jimmy: True. And I am on record many times for my dislike of MoS.

watson: And I am on the record many times for my dislike of F*&^ING JIMMY!

tomk: And I am not really on record yet for wondering if Hank’s shrinking buildings have indoor plumbing

watson: Teeny tiny turds.

tomk: No working sinks. Better hope those things generate their own energy. He’s not hooked up to the power grid either.

Can we all agree that despite tossing everything including the kitchen sink into the movie, where the worst I can say is Goggins’ mob boss doesn’t quite fit but I don’t much care, that this was a pretty well-balanced movie where once it started, it didn’t really slow down?

jimmy: It was fine. :-p

Lost in the shuffle is the fact that Ben Foster was Goliath at some point in the MCU. Though I don’t think they say he went on any missions

tomk: It always knocked him out before he could pose for a picture like on the cover of the Marvels trade.

watson: Jimmy…a thought exercise….if this movie had come out in 2010, would you have liked it more? Have your expectations for superhero movies grown so high that a simple film like this one can’t thrill you anymore?

jimmy: Maybe. I wonder that about lots of sequels. Like, say, Guardians 2. If that had come first would I like it more? I still liked it (a lot) but it felt very repetitive of the first one.

I didn’t find this suffered too badly in the sequelitits department, outside of the Pena fast talking scene, though that was still fun.

watson: Alright. We’ve talked this one through. Grade time. What do you guys think?

tomk: Solid 8.5 out of 10 hungry sea gulls for me.

It held up well and seemed even better in retrospect compared to the first time I saw it.

That and it looks like thanks to James Gunn’s firing and rehiring, Payton Reed may be the first Marvel director to do a full trilogy.

jimmy: 7.5 screwy MCU timelines out of 10. Maybe a bit low. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

tomk: Does this mean Jimmy needs to fire up the Calcutron 2049 again?

jimmy: Man…there’s a lot of dust on this thing. I’ll clean it up and feed it our grades once Watson sends his.

watson: I gave it a 9.5 last year in real time. It holds up, but I do need to downgrade it a notch to a still-high 9 Close Magic Lessons out of 10.

tomk: I think the important thing here is we all agree this movie was better than Iron Man 2.

watson: Funny enough…I have this as my 7th favorite MCU film, and that didn’t change even with the grade drop.

tomk: Where does Captain Marvel rank for you?

watson: #11. Behind Avengers #1 and before Civil War.

jimmy: Having trouble firing up the Calcutron.

*Tries start mechanism. Nothing.*

C’mon you bucket of bolts!

*Kicks Calcutron. Nothing.*

On his way to the Austin East Ciders room, Ryan stops and sees the trouble we are having. He walks in, and with a fisted right hand, gives Calcutron a single knock. It starts immediately. “Aaaay!” he calmly declares as he continues on his way.

File photo of Ryan
File photo of Ryan

Thanks Ryan.

So, here are our MCU Rewatch rankings up through Ant-Man and The Wasp. Slightly skewed since we only have 3 grades for this one.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 10.0
Avengers: Infinty War 9.7
Thor: Ragnorak 9.6
Iron Man 9.4
Guardians Of The Galaxy 9.4
The Avengers 9.3
Black Panther 9.3
Spider-Man: Homecoming 9.0
Captain America: Civil War 8.9
Captain America: The First Avenger 8.7
Ant-Man And The Wasp 8.3
Thor 8.0
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 7.8
Ant-Man 7.8
Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.6
Doctor Strange 7.4
The Incredible Hulk 6.7
Iron Man 2 6.6
Iron Man 3 6.6
Thor: The Dark World 6.6

That seems about fair…

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