Film criticism is a very dude-heavy industry. According to a 2016 study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, men account for 73% of the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, resulting in men often shaping the narrative of what makes a "good" film or a "bad" film—what's worth seeing and what's not. And even the most well-meaning, wokest of men wouldn't necessarily catch the microaggressions or tropes that tend to define whole genres.
So, as our answer to years of male critics driving and basically shaping the movie industry with their opinions, Fangrrls on Film re-reviews films from a fangrrl perspective.
Ant-Man and the Wasp was a rollicking adventure full of action and laughs. But in its final moments, it set up some potentially major elements as the MCU moves from Avengers: Infinity War to Captain Marvel and the yet-to-be-titled Avengers 4. To speculate on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, FANGRRLS called in Kristy Puchko and Sara Century, the former versed on all things MCU, the latter an expert on Marvel comics. Together, they discuss how Ant-Man and the Wasp may pave a road to Avengers 4.
WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Kristy: Let's begin with the end, or specifically: Ant-Man and the Wasp's mid-credits sequence. Thanos's actions have turned Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) to dust, trapping Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in the Quantum Realm without apparent hope of rescue. So, in Avengers 4, how might Scott escape the Quantum Realm!? It took decades and a sequel to get Janet out.
Sara: Ah, but now they have precedent. In Ant-Man, Hank claimed that anyone would lose their entire sense of reality in the Quantum Realm, but Janet was FINE. More than fine, she just pops in like, "Listen, fools, here's how you save me."
To me, that speaks to Janet's character, and it was one of my favorite parts of the film because it really nailed her essence as being able to go through literally anything and come back out as a gentle, funny, kind person. In that way, I think Scott resembles Janet more than most MCU characters do, although he struggles a bit more with it. Like Hope was for Janet, his connection with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) is undoubtedly going to be what pulls him through. And I think we're going to see an Ant-Girl.
Kristy: Oooo. In Avengers 4 or beyond? And what makes you think they'll give Cassie the superhero upgrade?
Sara: It might be Avengers 4, or it might be in another sequel. They were already setting her up because she was encouraging her dad to take risks, asking to be his partner. And Scott said that he would think about her every day to get through if he was ever stuck. In the comics, it's more or less agreed she'll eventually follow in her dad's footsteps.
Kristy: How might Scott escape the Quantum Realm? I'm thinking the key might be in something Janet warned him about: the Time Vortex. Could he fall into it and end up somewhere else in the Infinity War timeline? Could he leap back to join the battle in Wakanda? Or might he dive back to the '90s, when/where he could resurface in Captain Marvel, which opens ahead of Avengers 4's release!?
Sara: Yes! All of that is more than plausible in the world of Avengers 4.Kristy: The phrase "time vortex" is new to the MCU movies. Does it have a history in the comics?
Sara: Not that I remember. The thing with comics continuity is that there are multiple characters that have already mastered time travel. So, while there might be a vortex in addition to that, it's not exactly unheard of that a character could escape it with a little outside help.
Kristy: Let's say Scott will use the Time Vortex to escape the Quantum Realm. Where do you think/hope he might turn up, and how might that impact the next chapter of the Avengers' story?
Sara: Well, it's kind of limitless. They could definitely have him pop into Captain Marvel. They might have him be the deus ex machina of Marvel for a minute. I don't think they'll fully bring him back in Avengers 4, but I think his presence will be felt over the next few Marvel releases. What do you think?
Kristy: Well, the Time Vortex's powers are vague. But if they're having Ant-Man time-travel, I suspect he'll make some sort of appearance in Captain Marvel, though it might be as a post-credit scene teaser. I'd like to think they won't have their first official female-fronted MCU movie essentially gate-crashed by a male hero. Beyond that, it'd be kind of lame to just have him swoop back to early in the Infinity War timeline to fix things, like say, smacking some sense into Star-Lord before he accidentally foils the grab-the-Gauntlet plan with his overwhelming emotional outburst. I suspect that Scott won't have control of where he ends up, which will keep the MCU from rehashing Infinity War scenes.
Sara: Yeah, I definitely think it'll be out of his control. It'll be a motivation for Cassie to take on the role of superhero, and it'll help to set up Young Avengers, whatever else happens.
Kristy: Of course, it could be that the Time Vortex is integral to defeating Thanos, but not how Scott escapes the Quantum Realm. The post-credit scene did not reveal who else in Scott's life might have been eradicated. So, we don't know if Cassie, her mom (Judy Greer), her stepdad (Bobby Cannavale), or even Luis (Michael Peña) and his partners in crime-prevention (David Dastmalchian and T.I.) survived. So, who—either in Ant-Man's immediate circle or beyond—might intervene to get him out of the Quantum Realm?
Sara: Well, I guess it probably goes without saying that Luis will be involved somehow, even if just by helping to mentor Cassie a bit in his own funny way.
Kristy: Bruce Banner and Tony Stark survived Avengers: Infinity War. But neither has a connection to Ant-Man. Scott was on Cap's side of Civil War, and Banner was out in space Ragna-rocking out.
Sara: Yes. Neither has a friendly connection with Scott. As in the comics, Scott is kind of a well-meaning but controversial character. People have always been apprehensive to trust him.
Kristy: The other possibility for who might be able to help Scott escape the Quantum Realm is Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). At the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, they're on the run. But they know a ton about this niche science, so maybe Luis enlists their aid?
Sara: Ah, yes! Good point.Kristy: Is there a bigger role Ghost might play in Avengers 4?
Sara: Oh I hope so. I loved her. In the comic, Ghost was male and a pretty obnoxious pseudo-anarchist so I was a big fan of the changes made. We might see Foster return as Black Goliath, which would be cool.
Kristy: Right! His superhero past was alluded to in Ant-Man and the Wasp. So maybe he'll come back as an out-of-retirement hero in Avengers 4! And perhaps helping save the universe (or what's left of it) will be healing for Ghost, allowing her to see herself as more than a formerly enslaved assassin.
Sara: I am interested in seeing a redemption arc with her.
Kristy: Speaking of the healing, Scott was traveling to the Quantum Realm to get more of those special healing particles. How might they come into play in Avengers 4? Could they—say for example—reform a living creature from a pile of ashes? Could Ant-Man be that big a deus ex machina?
Sara: Yes, definitely. I mean, in the comics, half the population of the universe was wiped out as well. But it was very brief, and characters were returned to life very quickly within the series. For now, I think Marvel will drag it out as long as they can, but it'll likely be a similarly easy fix in the end. Just, poof, they're all back now!
Kristy: In the comics, how do they all come back?
Sara: Adam Warlock gains control of the Gauntlet and undoes what Thanos has done. I don't believe Warlock has appeared in the MCU as of yet. But if they bring him in it will very likely be to fight Thanos, as that is such a driving factor behind the character.
Kristy: He's teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. And Adam can wield the Infinity Gauntlet because...?
Sara: It was more user-friendly in the comics, like literally anyone that put it on had its power.
Kristy: So if they introduce Adam Warlock in Avengers 4, they'd also need to establish why he has the power to wield all those stones when touching one as a group nearly killed the Guardians.
Sara: Yes. In the comics, which were by Jim Starlin and featured a lot of his characters (he created much of "cosmic" Marvel), his Thanos is serving a philosophical point at all times. It's different in the movies, with him as more of a fascistic pragmatist, so I'm interested to see where they take it from here. Personally, I think they'll take it in a different direction so it's not just one dude shows up throws on a glove and fixes everything. Again, that all happened within a single mini-series in the comics, so the stakes are a little different with these multi-million dollar movie franchises.
Kristy: So, having discussed all of this, what is your final prediction of how Ant-Man and The Wasp will play into Avengers 4?
Sara: I think Cassie will become a prominent character, as will Foster and Ghost. Maybe Ghost's connection to the Quantum Realm will come into focus, developing an intrinsic ability to harness and control its energy. I think we'll see a return to a hero role from Foster. And the absence of Pym and his technology will be important. Marvel is currently missing all of its Pym tech scientists with the exception of Foster, so someone is going to have to take that up to figure out this quantum realm stuff.
Kristy: My theory is that Scott will fall into the Time Vortex, and that might mean he spins into the '90s popping up for a cameo in Captain Marvel. I suspect you're right about Foster and Ghost's returns, and I think they'll pull Scott out of the Quantum Realm with the help of Luis. Marvel would be insane to not include this scene-stealing fan favorite at every opportunity. Then Ghost, Ant-Man, AND Black Goliath join the battle against Thanos!
As you pointed out, the MCU is very different from the comics on a lot of fronts. And you're right, letting Adam Warlock swing in to save the day and unkill millions would be way off-brand especially as he'd be a new to the MCU character. So, I think the healing particles will become key, either in bringing people back or in girding the heroes as they try to take back the gauntlet together. Perhaps like the Guardians reclaimed an infinity stone in their first movie, minus the dance off. Though if Rudd's involved, I'm down for more dancing.
Sara: I just want a prequel that's all about Janet Van Dyne. That's all.