Ant Man And The Wasp: A Critique Of Marvel MoviesPosted: July 30, 2020
When I watch a movie from the Marvel Comics empire I have to remind myself NOT to view this material with an adult mind. It’s better to watch with minds like those of my grandchildren, aged ten and thirteen.
Last night we watched “Ant Man And The Wasp”. My grandkids loved it. I endured it. Marvel movies are bloated with filler, that is, every “BOP! POW! And WHAM!” takes up screen time and makes for a longer film. Each mighty punch sends characters toppling end over end until they land with such force that their booties excavate the pavement or shatter all the windows in an office building. Such destruction! Miraculously, no one is crushed by the falling buses or lethal shards of sky scraper glass. unless that injury is an important plot device. Otherwise, the hordes of innocent bystanders are blessed with hair’s-width escapes from catastrophe.
It seems to me that good writers are those who go the extra mile. Lazy writers are those who go right up to the mile before the EXTRA MILE, then dust their hands together and stop. That’s what’s frustrating about Marvel movies. The producers know that they can inject a liberal amount of fake fighting and harmless destruction into the script. How much? Fifteen minutes? Twenty? Maybe half an hour of combat-without-consequences?. IF (and we are) raising children with this stuff establishes a dangerous idea, that is, “THERE ARE NO REAL CONSEQUENCES”. There are just provisional outcomes that can always be changed by using a time machine or some deus ex machina, some easy way out. Kids absorb this data hungrily and without critical thinking. They love the bop!bam! stuff and don’t seem to be frustrated by the relative emptiness of the script.
“Ant Man And The Wasp” deals with some heayy concepts, like the world of Quantum Mechanics, the realm of the minute sub-quark particles. The visuals are pretty amazing in their depictions of these mysterious areas. “Someone” I thought (but did not speak aloud) has been smoking some DMT or ingesting psilocybin.”. I took a few moments to explain Quantum Mechanics to my grandkids. They’re super-bright little people who are inherently more evolved than I am. But they’re still kids. I have to tell myself to chill; watch the Marvel Universe with a clear mind and just have fun. The kids understood my explanation of quantum reality as “part of a continuum, from the mighty sizes of galaxies to the infinitesimal sizes of sub atomic particles. BUT..if you live in any of these places then it all looks normal-sized to you and your friends”. Right? Right.
A few minutes ago my grand-daughter came into my office and asked “Whatcha doing, Poppa Art?” I said that I was writing a review of the movie we saw last night. I explained my point of view and she seemed to grasp that a world in which no one REALLY dies is a bit fatuous. I explained that Marvel’s tactics remove the real terror from their productions. We all know that none of the heroes will die. That there’s always some last-minute rescue, or the sequel will resuscitate the seemingly annihilated people.
Haven’t our movies and TV shows always been like this? The soft-peddle American media archives are full of plots with happy endings. The hero always triumphs; the frustrated couple always get their passionate kiss. Yeah, it’s always been like this but in 2020 we are seeing the maturation of world-shaking technology that is changing the tenor or our lives from the ground up.. There’s more technology, more ways to soften the blows of so-called REALITY. As if to compensate, REALITY amps up the blows, grows more furious with each passing year.
For my grandkids, I fear that reality has never been less real.
The soundtrack of “Ant Man And The Wasp” brings a relentless rhythmic figure, a continuous percussive BAH BAH bu BUH BUMP BUMP that induces an excited state in the viewer. It is so pernicious that my sleep was disturbed last night until I got up at around three in the morning and quietly played some Joni Mitchell. THAT was the last thing I heard before returning to bed and snoring away the next four hours. It’s important to understand this level of aural hygiene. The last sounds you hear remain in your head until you hear something else. If you want to sleep, you need to ditch the agitating sounds in favor of something soothing. It works that way for me, anyway.
I explained the thrust of this essay to my granddaughter: that none of the heroes REALLY die and that makes the movies way less scary. I think she grasped my point but I don’t really know. The universes in which we live are so different. We’re family, we’re close but I can’t escape the sense that people live light years apart despite being in the same room.
I’m less worried about the future when I see how these kids cope. Quantum Mechanics? They don’t care; its just something people say that means invisibly tiny stuff, like stuff that makes bacteria look HUGE by comparison!
They get it. They know that bacteria are too small to see, so why not even smaller stuff that makes invisible germs look huge?
If we take care not to squash the imaginations of these grandchildren, they will be better prepared for the turbulent future that is roaring towards them with all of its dangers.