by Ian Morton
Back when Marvel was in the process of completing its first phase of world domination, all eyes were on the next stage of development. Playing it safe with its central Avengers, head honcho Kevin Feige decided it was time to gamble and take a series of risks in order to keep the public spewing with excitement. As James Gunn took the helm over on the newly announced Guardians of the Galaxy adventure, it was the development of a long-gestating script – penned by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish – that most intrigued the mass of MCU fans.
With a string of comedy hits packing out his CV, a Wright led Ant-Man movie soon became the talk of the MCU as well as the film nobody knew they desperately needed. Just as the cameras started to roll however, Wright left the project, citing the all too familiar ‘creative differences’ as his reason for escape. Prompting the first (but certainly not the last) debate surrounding the future of ‘the shrinking suit’, Feige scrambled the troops and Peyton Reed was quickly signed on to oversee the rest of production.
Although plagued with a series of ups and downs, the first Ant-Man eventually made it to the cinema in the summer of 2015 and proved another success for the Marvel powerhouse. While still enjoyable – as well as financially successful – the finished product was slightly marred with what could have been; giving us just a glimpse behind Wrights curtain rather than give us the superhero version of the Cornetto trilogy. As Ant Man and the Wasp hits UK theatres this weekend, I still find myself mourning what could have been rather than fully absorbed in Scott Langs newest adventure.
Much like its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp plays a similar hand as before, opting for a more tongue in cheek approach in order to spring off the dramatic events of Infinity War. This slapstick approach works in its favour, particularly in its connections to the wider universe, by shrugging off the heavy burden of being the 20th entry in the ongoing series and quickly diving into its plot.
Even though it suffers from the same issues the franchise is known for (throwaway villains, unnecessary number of plot points etc), it still manages to deliver the same harmless, easy to watch fun of the original. It never tries to be anything other than what it is, revelling in its simplicity rather than trying to defend itself. In a strange way, it’s this very uncomplicated approach that gives it its own voice, rather than competing with the more brooding characters the universe has on roster.
Paul Rudd is still the engaging everyman at the centre of it all, while Michael Douglas reprises the straight laced – and more serious – yin to Rudds yang. Evangeline Lily proves that females can kick arse just as much, if not more ass than her male counterparts as Hope Van Dyne takes on the mantle of The Wasp. All while the loveable rogues, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and T.I are back as the bumbling, fan favourite side kicks. Although it would have been nice to spend some time with some of the new faces, the sheer number of people in this film alone (without mentioning Laurence Fishbourne, Michelle Pffeifer and new villains, Walton Goggins and Hannah John-Kamen) show the need for simplicity the film desperately craves.
As much fun as the film is however, Ant Man and the Wasp is ultimately still haunted by the ghost of its past. In its efforts to keep things the same, Wright’s signature can still be felt like a dull echo in a long forgotten cave. As the action unfolds, you can’t help but desire a Hot Fuzz supermarket showdown or Baby Driver car chase. It’s not to say that what’s happening on screen isn’t enjoyable… it just makes you linger on what might have been.