Fresh off an apocalypse, the MCU returned to the theaters to show a much lighter side this past weekend. Ant-Man and the Wasp barely mentioned Thanos’s finger-snapping and featured a stand-alone story, an affable Paul Rudd, a comedic powerhouse performance from Michael Peña (again), and a lot of size-shifting sight gags. It was a nice reprieve, and afterward, Ringer staffers convened to offer their thoughts on the movie.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Ant-Man and the Wasp?
Sean Fennessey: This is sort of like if Robert Caro decided to press pause on his LBJ series of biographies and write a PDF-only pamphlet about Hubert Humphrey. I liked it!
Andrew Gruttadaro: It didn’t even feel like a Marvel movie! I mean that as a compliment!
Zach Kram: Captain America aside, the sequel has typically been the worst entry in every MCU franchise, but unlike Iron Man 2, Dark World, Ultron, and Guardians 2, the Ant-Man sequel was a delight. I keep paying for these movies, and that’s because I haven’t been disappointed in a pretty long time.
Kate Halliwell: Paul Rudd as Scott Lang as Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne was the best acting since Helena Bonham Carter as Emma Watson as Hermione as Bellatrix Lestrange. (If you know you know.)
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Gruttadaro: Michael Peña’s truth serum sequence and the way they Drunk History’ed it.
Halliwell: Michael Peña’s truth serum storytelling had my entire theater cackling.
Fennessey: Every moment of Michael Peña talking. All of them.
Kram: Put Michael Peña in every Marvel movie.
Surrey: Everything Michael Peña. Marvel isn’t exactly bereft of new ideas, but I’d watch the crap out of Luis, Kurt, and Dave in a X-Con Security spinoff. (Imagine Agents of SHIELD, but good.)
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Gruttadaro: Walton Goggins’s haircut.
Surrey: Unfortunately, Ant-Man and the Wasp succumbs to the “villain has trapped the heroes and meticulously explains their own backstory” trope in a way that wasn’t silly or self-aware enough in an otherwise silly, self-aware movie.
Halliwell: The faux-science mumbo-jumbo didn’t do it for me.
Kram: Everything that happened in the real world was more fun and engaging than everything that happened in the quantum realm. Also, they sure went from “don’t go quantum; you’ll die” to “this isn’t that dangerous” pretty quickly.
Fennessey: I just feel bad for Judy Greer at this point. Is it possible she’s trolling herself by taking the same part as the skeptical but loving mom who has three scenes too few?
4. Finish the sentence: “The villain Ghost was …”
Halliwell: … a classic Marvel villain, in that she was functional but forgettable.
Fennessey: … transported from a Doctor Who episode? (I’ve never seen Doctor Who.)
Surrey: … necessary, I suppose? There needed to be some sort of conflict, even if it was just to set up the next punch line. Ghost wasn’t that great or memorable of a villain, but I don’t think Peyton Reed intended for her to be.
Kram: … only about 60 percent as interesting as she should have been. Even judged against the low baseline of an MCU villain, she was devoid of personality.
Gruttadaro: Here is my ranking of ghosts:
1. Ghost, the direwolf from Game of Thrones
2. Boo, the ghost from Super Mario Bros.
3. Ghost, the movie
4. Kids See Ghosts
12. Wendy’s ghost pepper fries, circa 2015
98. Ghost, the villain from Ant-Man and the Wasp
5. Which Ant-Man and the Wasp actor was most underutilized?
Halliwell: Michelle Pfeiffer, obviously. She could have been on screen every second and still have been underutilized; it’s impossible to have enough Michelle Pfeiffer in anything.
Surrey: Honestly, I could’ve used another 20 minutes of Michael Peña telling rambling, incoherent truth serum stories.
Fennessey: Pfeiffer > Goggins > Greer > Peña > T.I. > Cannavale. (What was he doing there?) Randall Park was expertly used.
Gruttadaro: Man, there are a lot of options (Peña, T.I., Walton Goggins, Judy Greer), but the easiest choice is the right one: HOW WAS MICHELLE PFEIFFER IN ONLY, LIKE, THREE SCENES?!
6. What was your favorite small-to-big (or vice versa) sight gag in the movie?
Surrey: ANT-MAN USED A TRUCK AS A SKATEBOARD!
Fennessey: The uncontrollable size-up in Cassie’s school, when Scott filled the entirety of the open space in a janitor’s closet.
Halliwell: I loved the malfunctioning suit gags, especially the one in the school. There was something wildly entertaining (and slightly creepy) about child-sized Scott Lang running around an elementary school.
Kram: Is it cheating to pick the whole extended car-chase scene? Car chases are a genre unto themselves, and the various visuals the movie provided there—new, whimsical, and fulfilling of immense creative potential—demonstrated exactly what makes this lower-stakes MCU franchise fun.
Gruttadaro: I just really liked how Pym would sprout a giant office building wherever he felt like and no one would ask questions. Don’t you need a permit for that?
7. Do you wish the movie were more directly connected to Infinity War?
Surrey: Nope! I don’t need Thanos’s apocalyptic doom and gloom in friggin’ Ant-Man. The most this film needed was a Hawkeye-under-house-arrest cameo. Alas.
Gruttadaro: God, no. As much as I thought I wanted to have some questions answered, it felt really good to not have to care.
Halliwell: Not one bit; getting a breather from the impending doom was refreshing (until that absolute downer of a post-credits scene).
Fennessey: Not even a little. (Get it?) (I’m sorry.)
Kram: The isolation worked; there’s nothing wrong with tasty snacks between well-spaced-out gluttonous meals. We’ll have time enough to explore the ramifications of Infinity War’s cliff-hanger in 2019, but for now, the best Marvel movies of late—see: Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther—have stuck to their little corners of the universe.
8. Rank the MCU’s 2018 films.
Halliwell: Black Panther > Infinity War > Ant-Man and the Wasp (but they’re all slam dunks in my book).
1. Black Panther
2. Paddington 2
3. Infinity War
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Gruttadaro: Black Panther > Ant-Man and the Wasp > Chris Hemsworth’s arms > Infinity War.
1. Black Panther
2. Ant-Man and the Wasp
3. Ocean’s 8 (basically a superhero movie and my personal Infinity War)
4. Infinity War
1. Black Panther
2. The good parts of Infinity War
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp
4. The bad parts of Infinity War