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.
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...
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?
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.
Soldier who lost his family because of the Avenger's carelessness.
A real estate mogul who rose through the ranks to destroy a country from the highest position...
Father who lost his livelihood due to big corporations and resorted to theft to help his family get by.
Orphan who wanted to reclaim his birthright that was unjustly taken from him.
Outcast who wanted to solve a problem plaguing the entire universe.
To name a few.
Onions. Everyone, an onion!
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
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.
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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