Thought Bubble Thursdays #16 - Quantum Quandary

in writing •  5 months ago

I was supposed to post this last week, but life got in the way and another week has gonr down the drain pipe. Oh how time flies so quickly! And yet... sometimes, it feels like forever to get through a minute. Isn't that strange? Well, speaking of time, I won't waste yours with another long-winded intro. That's for another week. For now, let's head on straight to your favorite TBT. Let's Talk 'Bout That-Juggernaut-Called-The-Marvel-Cinematic-Universe!

Oh hey, if DC doesn't want to be an afterthought, they really need to step up their game.


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So, Ant-Man and the Wasp rolled through theaters last week and secured another winner for the House of Ideas. Another film, another number one blockbuster. And don't give me that "Marvel follows a formula" excuse, just don't. Let's just state the obvious. The reason why Marvel has sustained its success for the past decade is because the leadership has a solid roadmap and, most importantly, they listen to the audience. Case in point...

VILLAINS

Now, we all know that the antagonist could make or break a film the same way the protagonist can. So, it's a given that filmmakers and writers need to focus on the villain just as much as the hero. For years, the main chink in Marvel's armor is their supposed lack of depth with regard to their villains. Heck, they've been a butt of every joke across the whole industry. Personally, I don't agree with the whole criticism, but I do admit that some villains leave me wanting. It's not like DC was doing any better, amirite?


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To be fair, every villain seemed to have been compared to Heath Ledger's Joker, so it's a high bar. Fortunately for everyone (well, except for DC and detractors like James Cameron), Kevin Feige and the crew listened to the complaints and have since rectified the situation. For a long while, Loki was the standard-bearer for the dark side, even though he has been known to flip-flop from time. But, during the back half of the decade, antagonism has really stepped up their game.

Misguided AI that aimed to cleanse the world by exterminating humanity.


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Soldier who lost his family because of the Avenger's carelessness.


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A real estate mogul who rose through the ranks to destroy a country from the highest position...


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Wait... what?

Father who lost his livelihood due to big corporations and resorted to theft to help his family get by.


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Orphan who wanted to reclaim his birthright that was unjustly taken from him.


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Outcast who wanted to solve a problem plaguing the entire universe.


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To name a few.

Onions. Everyone, an onion!


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What made these villains stand out was their complexities and characterization. These baddies had more layers than most onions, yet they were very relatable (well, except for Trump). Their reasoning behind doing the things they did speaks to our very humanity. Given the same resources and drive, they make us feel like we could be capable of the same deeds. And that's scary.

I mean, who would want to be compared to a moustache-twirling, world conquering mofo, right? I'm sure some wouldn't mind, but most people would reject that comparison. They made the villains so sympathetic that one couldn't be blamed for rooting for them during parts of the story. We not only feel for them, but we feel bad for them when they don't accomplish their goals.

With every film, these villains seem to evolve. They're not only foils or dark reflections of the protagonist anymore, they've grown to be caricatures of society. The so-called antagonists have now been used as a vehicle to discuss real-world issues.

Marvel has always pride itself on telling stories of "a world outside your window." I would argue that it's more true now than it has ever been. Never mind flying hammers, giant men and aliens falling from the sky. Issues like equality, poverty, and many more are being addressed in between cinematic action.

Breaking the Mold


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Their latest outing continues the trend. Not only did it try to rid the formula stereotype, but it also made further steps in solving the villain problem. How, you ask? Well, put simply, Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn't have any villains!

Well, there are, but not in a classical (or biblical?) sense. If you must point some out, they're antagonistic in the sense that they have a differing agenda with the supposed protagonists, but none could really be considered evil.

If you care to continue this deep dive, I must warn you that there are tiny (heh!) spoilers ahead.

I'm not kidding.

Turn away now while you still can.

Go on now... git!

If you like what you've read so far, perhaps you would consider upvoting. BUT CLOSE YOUR EYES ON THE WAY DOWN! Watch out for those pesky spoilers!

Last chance, buckeroo.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Le sigh...

Let's get to it. Before we tackle the main players, let's briefly discuss the main nuisance in the film. Burch is your archetypal arms dealer baddie so it's easy to mistake that he's a villain. What did he really do in the film other than trying (and failing) to steal Pym's laboratory? Sure, he's indirectly responsible for deaths, but on-screen he never even hurt a fly. I mean, those damned sea gulls killed more ants than Burch ever did.

Moving on to Wu, the federal agent assigned to Lang. He doesn't really fit the "villain" mold, but he serves as an antagonist of sorts seeing as he's preventing Scott from fulfilling his heroic potential. But, he's a good guy in the sense that he has a moral compass, a law enforcement job (hmm debatable) and he doesn't seem to have a selfish agenda.

Bill Foster, the former Goliath, lied and deceived the heroes to do something good. His aim was to help rid a poor woman of an ailment that's slowly killing her. In doing so, he inadvertently kicked off a chain of events that could lead to the original Wasp's death. However, once he realized it, he relented and try to think of an alternative method. Not only that, he stuck with his ward even after everything. If that doesn't scream hero, I don't know what does.

Then we get to the "big bad" of the film, the enigmatic Ghost. Well, not that enigmatic. They reveal her identity immediately after her clash with the heroes. Then, they reveal her motivation not long after that. Then, they reveal her tragic backstory. SPOILER ALERT: she developed a condition as a kid because of her father's botched experiment, which was only made possible because Hank Pym fired him unceremoniously. Now, she's dying, and her only saving grace is by sucking the quantum energy (oh how I wish that was a euphemism) out of Janet Van Dyne (the original Wasp, Hank's wife, Hope's mom, and the person at the center of the rescue operation). Siphoning Janet's quantum energy could kill the OG Wasp, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

I mean, if you were dying, wouldn't you exhaust every possibility there is to live? Siphoning Janet's quantum energy has a chance to kill her, but it's not like it's a 100% probability, neither is it what Ghost really wanted. She just wants to live. Doesn't everyone?

That struggle speaks to the very heart of what it means to be human. The need to live, to survive. It's engraved in our DNA, and it's an instinctual reflex that can't be denied. It's like saying that Ghost was a villain because she just wanted to find a way to live because she's dying from a condition that she had nothing to do with.

Finally, we get to Hank Pym, the man at the center of everything. If it wasn't for him firing Ghost's dad, the latter wouldn't have needed to do a DIY science experiment which led to Ghost's affliction. If it wasn't for him, Hope wouldn't have grown up without a mother and Janet wouldn't have spent half her life in the Quantum Realm. If anyone's a villain in this film, it would be him, wouldn't it?



Thanks for reading!
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And as always, Ant-Man approves this post.



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Ouch, I missed it! I missed the post but I caught it now! As ever I wish I had the opportunity to immerse myself in this bloody universe. I keep feeling I am missing out!!

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Feeling? Myceliar PeronosBROmycetes, you truly are! Think about it, when was the last time you have really loved a woman? I mean, really, really ever loved... a woman, huh? Also, how much is that doggy in the window really worth? These are the questions that keep me up at night. They haunt my very existence.

I can't blame you though, a post the size of an ant is not not hard to miss, even with an eagle eye such as yours! You are here now, and the skies are cleared up. Everything is right in the world. Everything is as it should be.

Seeing Trump in there made me snort with laughter, and actually I think it's appropriate- there's no way I can see it as anything but theater after the ludicrous debates and election, but at least he affords some comic relief, I think the other villain running against him would have been a painful person to continue to hear about hee hee.

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You can't make that stuff up! Hahaha! It's a case of reality being stranger than fiction. Sometimes I feel like the Earth orbited into a black hole without anyone noticing. We have passed the event horizon and we are living in a reality that doesn't abide by any natural law. Our society has been so immersed in reality TV that we have become caught in some strange otherworldly reality show. The higher beings must be laughing their asses off while witnessing how our world is disintegrating!

read half of it to avoid spoilers :P What you mentioned though is completely true. Villains have totally transformed those movies and series. I was really bored watching over and over the new AI robots or the new aliens that came out of nowhere for a stupid reason to conquer earth.

Adding personality traits to the villains make people come closer to them sometimes even like them more than the heroes and as natural the movie will become in the eyes of any viewer more real and thus better!

Also in series that they have the time to develop every character way more i have to say that in daredevil, kingpin was amazing. I liked him better than the hero :P Also in Gotham (it's dc i know :P ) they did a pretty good job with all the villains. They develop them so much that you get to see them from their beginnings, see the reasons they became the ones we all know as well as their whole development in every aspect in those 4 seasons. For some you may say ok he is crazy and take 100% the side of the hero but in a couple of others you may start wonder as to if something was different now he wouldn't be a villain, or blame the police, the government even the hero!

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It's funny to think that Marvel was being laughed at for having weak villains five years ago. How the tables have turned! I didn't even touch on the TV side, which has equally compelling villains. Man, Bushmaster overtook Kingpin for me! I was rooting for him to finally get revenge by the end!

I dropped Gotham during Season 1 though. I couldn't force myself to like it haha I mean, spoiler alert, Bruce becomes Batman. I just think the notion of the villains superseding Batman was just too ridiculous. But, that's just me. I respect how far they have come.

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indeed how i forgot about bushmaster :P Still kingpin was the best one for me maybe because i didn't like the actor playing daredevil, it reminded me somewhat of a pathetic person while previously i had imagined him as a badass

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Kingpin's coming back in a big way, so you're in for a treat next season!

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i will be locked in my home to see that season in peace :P

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Haha! Oh fun fact, Luke Cage, Bushmaster and Iron Fist are in my country now :D I saw it on Facebook and my wife and I are kicking ourselves because we were too lazy to get out of bed earlier.

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haha go and find them. While you approach them they will think that you gonna ask for an autograph of the 2 heroes. Go straight to Bushmaster and tell him "i want your autograph" (Long Live The Villains :P)

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You know, that's exactly what I thought of doing, but instead it would be me tilted back with my hands up in the air as if trying to initiate a hug and then shouting "Wagwan, mi dads!" hahaha!

The stories without obvious heroes and villains are the kind that I like writing, though they have historically confused people. Hopefully I'm a better writer now XD

Nice to see comic universes doing something about that superficiality, it was one of many reasons why I stopped reading the big house comics so very long ago. Having said that however I do know of some people who aren't happy with the added depth and complexity as they enjoyed the shallow escapism a lot of these types of superhero comics offered. Can't make everyone happy though right XD

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I'm sure you are, FYN-ish line! You do have a point though, some people don't really care for the moral complexities, but it does add that sort of wrinkle to the whole thing. You can't help but cheer for some villains, even though you don't want to. It mirrors life too much!

Having clear cut heroes and villains seem to be a thing of the past, at least for most contemporary stories. Gone are the days when vanilla heroes are the norm. People like that don't exist in the real world anyway, but I guess that's why they call it fiction haha!

Wow this is totally amazing the way you went about this, I was getting entertained as well as informed, I don't really watch too much of movies, I rather watch series, but the times I've seen marvel I think they keep people entertained despite the fact that the villains gets to die, we love them anyway.

Orphan who wanted to reclaim his birthright that was unjustly taken from him.

Isn't that the villain in black panther?

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Surely is! He really carried half the weight of that movie. Heck, I think more people talk about him more than Black Panther himself! Shuri was more talked about than both of them though haha!