“The Avengers: Infinity War” bought Marvel/Disney a lot of good will, bringing audiences the villain they always dreamed of in Thanos, and delivering an ending that simultaneously leaves room for an even better sequel, while also keeping us on the edge of our seats.
But I’m not sure I love the film enough to really care about Ant-Man, nor do I think general audiences will.
Don’t get me wrong, 2018 saw the release of two stellar Marvel films in the case of “Black Panther” and the already-mentioned “Infinity War,” and from what early reviews can tell us, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is leagues above the first one — though to be fair, the first “Ant-Man” was about as cookie cutter as you could get — but I think 2018 is starting to reach critical mass, at least this part of the year.
Let me explain.
We’ve already had two Marvel films — one of them being the biggest Marvel film on the face of the plant — a “Star Wars” film audiences already couldn’t be bothered to see, a new Pixar film, a new “Jurassic World” film, “Deadpool 2,” “Ready Player One,” a “Pacific Rim” sequel, a terrible “Tomb Raider” reboot, “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Rampage,” a “Super Troopers” sequel; and we’ve just started summer. My point being, general audiences have had a lot of competition for their dollar recently in a very short amount of time, and while 2018 seems devoid of any real contenders at the end of the year save a “Fantastic Beasts” sequel and that “Bumblebee” standalone Transformers movie, right now the average household might be crunched for movie dollars. And then there’s the mental exhaustion of having so many big name films shotgunned at us in such a short amount of time.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” will also have to compete with “The First Purge,” a film that opens two days before “Ant-Man” and that I am infinitely more intrigued in than a film about Paul Rudd being sort-of funny in yet another CG-heavy Marvel film.
Playing devil’s advocate, I think “Ant-Man” will do fine if it’s good. Good Marvel films can spread like wildfire and establish their own brands pretty quickly — such was the case of virtually every valuable property in the MCU, from “Iron Man” to “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Unlike a property like “Batman” or “Superman,” most Marvel films, especially ones in young franchises, often cannot rely on people seeing their films off of name recognition alone, especially when they focus on a lesser-known hero like Ant-Man.
But I can’t help but think the cards are stacked against this film. “Ant-Man” 1 wasn’t a strong film, but we’ve seen Marvel salvage uninspired franchises before, like what they were able to do with Thor in “Thor: Ragnarok.” But as a whole, while Rudd’s Ant-Man just isn’t that interesting, and I feel like the close releases of “Infinity War,” “Solo” and “Jurassic World” might have fatigued general audiences, something I’m not sure “Ant-Man” has the strength to shake.
I also suspect that we’re reaching a point with yearly releases where people just aren’t as excited as they used to be to see movies. “Solo”‘s lackluster reception was an indicator of that. I can’t help but notice how little people were excited for that film and make connections to how little people are excited for “Ant-Man,” with the difference between the two films being that “Ant-Man” gets to ride off of the coattails of a very successful installment in its shared universe in “Infinity War,” while “Solo” had to carry the dirty laundry of “The Last Jedi.”
I think “Ant-Man” 2 will make plenty of money, just not as much money as an average Marvel film, but it might surprise me. Though it is important to note that making enough money to continue onward doesn’t necessarily mean most people cared about the movie itself.
I think it would have helped if it wasn’t set before “Infinity War,” but who knows? Maybe it’ll contain some small insights into what will happen next that will convince some “Infinity War” fans to check “Ant-Man” out.
You know, like how a shared universe is supposed to work. Why would I feel obligated to see a random anthology film that has nothing to do with anything, especially if it’s just an average, ok movie?
If “Ant-Man” is good, maybe I’ll care about the next one. After all, I didn’t start caring about Thor until his third movie, and Marvel is on a hot streak when it comes to bold new and interesting stories (at least the movie division is).
May the odds be in Marvel’s favour. This is their chance to repent for driving Edgar Wright away from the first “Ant-Man,” but seeing as they brought “Ant-Man” 1 director Peyton Reed back to direct this one, I wouldn’t be surprised if history repeats itself.