So after a number of weeks operating under a "boycott" of sorts (and because my dad wanted to see it), I went and saw Ant-Man. The reason that I had decided to skip it was the very issue I covered in my previous post: representation in films from Marvel Studios is, and always has been, skewed. That's not to say that there's an obvious message of straight-white-male supremacy, but rather that ONLY those types of characters have been given a proper spotlight. And so, in knowing that the Ant-Man film would focus on Scott Lang, I ultimately opted out of picking up a ticket. But now, I decided that taking a look at the latest creation of Marvel Studios would allow me to monitor their progress properly. After the showing, I can only safely say that the studio is still trapped between fan wishes and old habits.
Female representation is undoubtedly one of the biggest issues for the MCU. The only female characters in the entire film (basically) are Hope van Dyne, Cassie Lang, Janet van Dyne (in a non-speaking bit part) and Scott's ex-wife, Maggie. While Maggie is essentially meaningless in the bigger plot and Cassie is a child-aged damsel-in-distress, Hope is actually (rather impressively) strong and independent. She is never thrown into the line of fire as a helpless victim and she moves along with the plot and characters wonderfully. Despite a brief moment of leg-fighting (that's what I call it when a female character fights vaguely sexually) and some apparently-obligatory remarks from other characters about her "beauty", she is never explicitly objectified onscreen. Her strongest moment is undoubtedly the Wasp post-credits scene, where, in response to the unveiling of the suit and of Hank's plans to give it to her, she responds with a curt "it's about damn time" (PERHAPS A SECRET MESSAGE TO THE FANS THAT BETTER REPRESENTATION IS COMING????).
Lastly is the small (no pun intended) part of Janet van Dyne. Her inclusion is highly successful, as she is explicitly referred to as a "hero" for sacrificing herself in protection of the United States and is only seen as a person that is also a woman. Far too often are women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe given things to do SPECIFICALLY because of their gender, and Janet is the most removed from this trend I have ever seen (aside from, perhaps, the villain-killing Pepper in Iron Man 3). Wonderful thoughts about the future of MCU representation were running through my head aside from the leg-fighting and one other (truly frustrating) moment: the kiss.
Now, from what I can find from skimming online, the comics have NEVER found Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne in any kind of romantic or sexual entanglement. But, in true comic book movie fashion, and after ALL of the competent decisions made with Hope as a character, she and our hero were found inexplicably sucking face behind a door by Hank Pym in his own house. Why must the female lead have some sort of romantic moment with the protagonist? ESPECIALLY if it's not canon?! And not only is it placed awkwardly in the resolution, but it serves basically no purpose other than "hero kisses woman". The two were almost entirely platonic and weird with each other from the start, and yet it still happened. At least Scott was the one given the up-and-down while shirtless, and not "the woman".
One other slight issue I found was the reduction of any prominent non-white characters to comic relief (Michael Pena's Luis especially). While actor Michael Pena delivered a truly entertaining, utterly scene-stealing performance as the ear to the ground and the burglary organizer, nothing will be truly right until these characters are given the central focus.
Other than the problems listed here, Ant-Man continues the trend (at the hands of Marvel Studios) of moving marginally closer to better, stronger, more progressive representation with each film. We're waiting on you, Jessica Jones/Black Panther/Captain Marvel/female Thor!!!
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: I did have an okay time at the movies with Ant-Man. Entertaining science fiction, belly chuckles, and impressive effects were aplenty. Just a lot of gripes that I'm really seriously infuriated by that I hope will be fixed through future films. Thank you so much for reading!)