Right now, Ant-Man and the Wasp is falling below box office projections and is on track to become Marvel Studio’s lowest grossing sequel. I think that, because of Marvel’s string of massive hits (Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War) raised the superhero movie bar for moviegoers; being a good superhero film is no longer enough to truly succeed at the box office.
And that’s what Ant-Man and the Wasp is. Despite the generally positive critical reception, Ant-Man and the Wasp is regarded as a good, but not great superhero film. It’s nice to see, but not a must-see film. Which is a shame because Ant-Man and the Wasp is a good film, with just a few flaws here and there that kept it from becoming a better movie.
With that said, I want to talk about a few minor tweaks that I think could have made Ant-Man and the Wasp better. Marvel Studios’ 20th film had the potential to be an amazing movie, so it doesn’t need any major overhauls at all. Since I will be talking about specific details of the movie, you may want to click away if you haven’t seen Ant-Man and the Wasp yet.
Ant-Man and the Wasp’s main conflict involves a choice between two lives: Janet van Dyne, who has been lost in the Quantum Realm for 30 years, and Ghost, the victim of an experiment gone wrong who is slowly dissipating into nothingness. Based on the research of Bill Foster, Ghost apparently needs Quantum Energy in order to cure herself of her ailment, and they plan on draining whatever Quantum Energy from Janet van Dyne’s body, despite knowing that the process may kill the latter. So the main characters are faced to choose between risking Janet’s life in order to save Ghost’s, or risking Ghost’s in order to preserve Janet’s.
Problem # 1
Right off the bat, Ant-Man and the Wasp’s main conflict has a simple but fatal flaw: the stakes between the opposing parties are not equal. You see, the film’s protagonists are racing against the clock because they only have a small window of several hours to save Janet from the Quantum Realm – miss that window and they may have to wait for several years, even as long as several decades, for their next opportunity.
During the events of the film, Bill Foster explicitly states that Ghost still has several weeks before her condition becomes fatal. Despite all the pain that she is experiencing, this fact immediately puts her on the wrong side of the argument. If she’s got weeks to live, why isn’t she giving Hank Pym the chance to save Janet and have all three of Pym, van Dyne, and Foster work on finding a cure for her?
While this means that by default, audiences are going to root for the film’s heroes, this means that Ghost has nothing to lose if she loses the conflict. And that’s exactly what happened – she lost the final battle, but she remained alive anyway.
And this is the first small tweak that I have for the film – instead of giving Ghost weeks to live, have Bill Foster say that her condition has worsened and he no longer knows how long Ghost is going to last. This small change increases the urgency of Ghost’s situation and can allow her to believably act with more desperation (now, she’s truly fighting for her life and not simply being impatient). And a more desperate opponent automatically becomes a more threatening antagonist.
Problem # 2
Ant-Man and the Wasp’s bigger flaw involves how the film resolves the main conflict. The choice between Janet’s life and Ghost’s life boils down to… a non-choice: Janet is able to easily transfer Quantum Energy to Ghost with no clear risk to her own life. Not only is it a cop out, but it makes Ghost’s actions quite petty and unreasonable (if all she needed to do was wait for Janet, maybe she should have helped the heroes instead of standing in their way). The supposed hard choice is no more, lessening the impact of the film’s supposed stakes.
To fix this, I have two different suggestions:
Solution # 2-A:
Have everything play out as it did in the film, up until the final conflict between Ghost and our two protagonists. Instead of getting beat, have Ghost come out on top and if possible, have her completely incapacitate the Wasp. Ghost is then able to keep drawing the Quantum Energy from Janet, slowly killing the latter.
Instead of overcoming Ghost physically, have Ant-Man (or alternatively, Bill Foster) plead with Ghost not to continue. Through Ant-Man’s (or Foster’s) pleas, have Ghost realize that she is effectively taking Wasp’s mother away from her – the same thing that happened to Ghost when her father’s experiment went wrong. This would give Ghost the hard choice between giving up her own life and taking the life of someone else’s mother. And as part of her redemption arc, Ghost chooses to give up her own life so that the Wasp can reunite with her mom. This way, there is a clear resolution to the hard choice that is presented by the film.
Via this route, the film can proceed normally, save for one minor difference – instead of going into the Quantum Realm to help Ghost, the Pyms and Ant-Man venture into the Quantum Realm to continue studying it, keeping our Avengers 4 lead-in mid-credits scene intact.
Have everything play out as it did in the film, up to the point wherein Ghost is defeated and Janet van Dyne is rescued successfully from the Quantum Realm. Rather than simply having Janet heal Ghost without any cost, have Janet make the hard choice – will she allow Ghost, a woman who is the same age as her daughter, to simply disappear from existence?
Being consistent with how her character was presented in the original Ant-Man film, Janet decides to give up her own life to save Ghost. Before this though, give her one more intimate moment with Hank Pym so that he can have closure; Janet can further inspire Pym by asking him to continue his research of the Quantum Realm and ask him to continue using his scientific mind to help other people again. More importantly, give Janet and the Wasp their own moment and have Janet be the reason for the Wasp to become a true hero (note that we’ve never really seen the Wasp use her powers for the good of others).
So Janet performs her self-sacrifice, Ghost is cured and the Pyms are able to find their closure. Both Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym are now motivated to pursue heroics, and we can still have the Avengers 4 lead-in mid-credits scene – only without Janet in it.
With these small tweaks to Ant-Man and the Wasp’s script, I think the film becomes much better. The stakes are still real and will be felt up until the movie’s conclusion, and we would see the growth of several characters. Alas, the film has been made as we know it and there’s no changing it anymore, so consider this as either constructive criticism of the movie or my personal fan fiction.
What did you think about Ant-Man and the Wasp? Do you agree with my proposed changes? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or two below!