Ant-Man has not had overwhelming fan support: from its first announcement most people wondered why it was being made. The movie had a pretty modest domestic box office gross of $178 million in the US, ranking it far below the previous Marvel film, [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) ($459 million in the US alone, over $1 billion worldwide). Critically, Ant-Man recieved mixed reviews but most people agreed that it was an enjoyable, lighthearted adventure with snappy dialogue. It was fun, overall. And now it's getting a sequel. But is this a fatal move on Marvel's part?
Ant-Man & The Wasp Announced
There's certainly lots to look forward to in Ant-Man and The Wasp. For me, the best thing about this news is that Wasp is finally appearing in the MCU, and in the title of a movie no less!
Considering Janet Van Dyne was cut from the original Avengers film, Wasp has been waiting a long time to finally fly into the MCU. Of course, this Wasp refers to Janet's daughter Hope, and the first Ant-Man movie made a pretty big deal of the fact that Hope kicks all kind of ass and is far better suited to being a superhero than Scott Lang.
Evangeline Lilly is a fantastic actress, and having her as one of the eponymous protagonists of Ant-Man 2 can only benefit the movie (and Marvel in general, in my opinion). So that's definitely not a problem with the film. And neither is the fact that Ant-Man is getting a sequel in general: if the writers can deliver another irreverent yet exciting script then there's no reason Ant-Man 2 won't be just as fun as the first. The problem comes when we consider scheduling, and how Ant-Man & The Wasp falls in the greater MCU context.
Delaying Marvel's Most Anticipated Films
By announcing 11 movies for Phase 3, Marvel already set a very high bar for themselves and risked fan criticism every time they shuffled the schedule around to accommodate changes. There have already been several delays to release dates when Marvel acquired Spider-Man from Sony, and the hero who is bearing the brunt of this rescheduling is Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel was originally announced for July 2018, but as soon as Sony acquired Spider-Man they were quick to include their own Webslinger movie in Phase 3, and Captain Marvel was pushed back to November 2018. With the announcement of Ant-Man 2, Captain Marvel was pushed back again to almost a year from her original release date: we can now hope to watch the solo movie in March 2019.
Of course it's entirely possible that Carol Danvers will appear before her solo film, but this delay is still very disappointing. This news, along with other major Marvel shakeups have also caused rumours of the Inhumans movie being delayed (though reports of cancellation proved unfounded). But beyond individual movies suffering, the MCU as a whole could be negatively affected by Ant-Man & The Wasp...
The meteoric rise of superhero movies in the last decade has prompted many people to predict a declining interest in the genre. The most famous theorist is Steven Spielberg who recently made his feelings on this matter known.
"Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us."
This does make a lot of sense: superhero movies can get very samey, and people aren't going to be interested in this forever. In fact, you could argue that the success of Guardians of the Galaxy was in part due to the fact that it blended superhero and scifi genres to do something that appeared new, and the fun of Ant-Man was also because of a genre shift - it was for the most part a heist movie.
But a genre shift isn't something that can be employed for Marvel's other properties, especially the highly anticipated [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027). And obviously it's not just Marvel who have a slew of movies coming out: the DC universe will get pretty crowded after [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870), and of course Fox have plenty of X-movies planned too.
So could Ant-Man & The Wasp herald the end of interest in superhero movies? The movie will be released in July 2018, so we've still got Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 before then. Whether Marvel's superhero flicks have longevity remains to be seen, but it could well be that by the time Ant-Man 2 rolls around, superhero fatigue will well and truly have set in. Which will of course leave subsequent movies (Captain Marvel and Inhumans in particular) to a dwindling audience.
I'm sincerely hoping this isn't the case, as Marvel's first solo female-lead feature deserves to be released during the superhero heyday. But maybe by then the superhero will have gone the way of the Western after all.