With an entire universe of hyphenated heroes to choose from, my wife declared the other day that she wants to be Ant-Man. I believe her desire was not based in the man part, but the ant part. Perhaps she wants to be Ant-Woman or Ant-Person, but definitely not the Wasp. Who wants to be a wasp? And, really, who wants to be an ant? People pretend to be impressed by their work ethic and strength, but at the end of the day those same people will step on them without a second thought. I would have to dig deeper.
Her announcement came before we went to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp on opening day. We had only the most vague recollection of watching the first movie, but we had a good lingering feeling about it. We knew we had liked it, but didn’t remember why. So we re-watched the original Ant-Man in preparation. Going to see a Marvel movie requires homework beforehand and afterwards a strong enough bladder to see what happens during the credits. So much discipline and effort.
During the review session with the original film, my wife, L, repeated her goal and elaborated a bit. It wasn’t his sense of humor, his quirky friends, his cool suit, or his dedication to family that appealed to her. It was his ability to get really small while still packing a punch. “I’d crawl in all sorts of places and punch people in the face,” she said matter-of-factly. I looked down suspiciously at the bruise on my calf.
“Why don’t you just become invisible?” I asked naively.
“I’d still be the same size. Harder to sneak in places. Besides, I don’t want to be wandering around naked–invisible or not. My luck, I would become visible in a church or something.” I imagined her failed mission to punch a priest in the face. Obviously, she had thought this through. Seeking vengeance and exacting justice on bad people without the possibility of being seen must be her goal. She wants to be a physical computer hacker.
Soon we were at the new movie, reclining as far as possible in those new movie seats that everyone has now and that seem so comfortable until you start imagining the body that reclined before you. We enjoyed the new Ant-Man in much the same way we enjoyed the first–knowing that we will soon forget the details but will have lingering happy thoughts about going again when the next one comes out, maybe Ant-Man, the Wasp, and The Stink Bug. Or maybe Ant-Man, the Wasp, and L. Her goal of becoming a super-powered ant was cemented and intensified by watching the latest movie.
“When he gets big, he gets tired,” I said.
“Well, he shouldn’t get big,” she said.
L figures small is the key advantage Ant-Man has. She has no desire to go into the quantum realm of weirdness or smash cars like the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Those elements in the Ant-Man movies are distracting for her and reflect a lack of imagination and appreciation for being ant-sized on the part of the writers. She doesn’t want to be the Ant-Man that continuously pulls off his mask. She wants anonymity. She wants to be able to crawl into places and see what’s going on, hear what people are saying–with or without punching.
“Oh, and I would like being able to control the ants,” she says. In her eyes I see her fantasizing about calling on huge ant armies to do her bidding–cover cars, crawl in the ears of evil-doers, pick up her chap stick when it falls to the ground.
She is Ant-Man. I watch a line of ants serpentine on the floor of the porch and wonder if she is leading them on a secret mission.