Hope all of you caught at least one of my Facebook posts from the Shore Leave Science Fiction Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland last weekend. The con was a lot of fun, as always, with the cosplayers showing all their creativity and Captain Kirk himself making an appearance.
One of my traditions post-Shore Leave is to check out a new film in the theaters on Sunday night before I head for home. This year’s multiplex offering was Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Wasp, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly (with Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer and Lawrence Fishbourne along for the ride).
The main body of this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man is just as much slapstick fun, with all the smart-alecky banter and size-jokes you might expect from the franchise. Michael Pena on truth serum is a hoot, Michael Douglas can roll his eyes with the best of them, and I love Walton Goggins (who played bad guy Sonny Burch) in just about anything.
So, [GREAT BIG SPOILER ALERT] why didn’t the filmmakers (director Peyton Reed, writers Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, et al) quit while they were ahead? The answer is, apparently, that the folks at Marvel have lost their minds and gone on a homicidal (or maybe suicidal) rampage. The victims in this case were the inventor of the “shrinking” technology, Dr. Hank Pym, his lovely-and-just-recovered wife Janet Van Dyne (the original Wasp), and the new Wasp, their daughter, Hope Van Dyne. All were reduced to ash by an unseen something in a “bonus” scene that unfurled as the credits rolled. Thanks, Marvel!
[MORE SPOILERS, IN CASE YOU’VE BEEN LIVING ON A SPACE STATION SOMEWHERE.] It all started with last spring’s Avengers: Infinity War, in which half the Marvel Universe’s superheroes died in a bloody battle against the mega-villain Thanos. Yes, poor, pitiful little Peter Parker/Spiderman dies weeping in Ironman’s arms. Marvel’s newest and coolest creation, Black Panther, goes down swinging. If you liked a Marvel hero, chances are pretty good he or she bit the dust in the last brutal half-hour of that film. Oh, a handful survived, I suppose so they could feel guilty and mope uselessly through the first half of the next film. Can you tell that I hated that film?
For the same reason (or ONE of them) I hated the ending of Batman vs. Superman. I don’t appreciate having my emotions man-handled for no other motivation than corporate profit. [YOU GUESSED IT, MORE SPOILERS.] We all know there is no such thing as true death in the superhero world. You can’t kill Superman. And, as all you grieving Marvel fans out there will soon discover, you can’t kill Spidey, or Black Panther or any of the others who died such glorious and (sob) touching deaths in Avengers: Infinity War.
Why? Because, for one thing, these characters are too valuable to their corporate owners. For God’s sake, Black Panther just set attendance records all over the world; do you honestly think Marvel is going to permanently kill off its most profitable Golden Goose before Panther has even had a chance to film a single sequel? No.
So, the deaths in Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and The Wasp and Batman vs. Superman are blatant and irrelevant manipulation of the audience’s emotions merely to get folks back into the theater for the next go-round. Are the filmmakers really so unsure of their abilities to come up with a good story line for the next film? I suppose it’s either that or recycle yet another oldie but goodie from the Hollywood vault, since original stories seem to be so hard to come by these days.