Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Avengers: EMH "The Man in the Ant-Hill"

This series of Micro-Episodes/actual episode was more of a mixed bag than others, being comprised of four semi-unrelated stories. So let's discuss each one in turn.  

Pym in Wakanda 
Not too shabby. It sets the stage for both Klaw and Pym, and shows off Pym's powers quite well.  

Ant-Man, Wasp, and Whirlwind 
Pretty good. We see what makes Wasp and Hank tick, and we get a nice action sequence out of it.  

The Big House 
AWESOME. The cameos are more than enough for any Marvel fan, and we see the shades-of-grey world of Nick Fury clash with Pym's idealism. Not to mention the chilling sequence where Mad Thinker predicts the events of the "Breakout" two-parter  

T'Challa's Origin Story 
Meh. It's a standard retelling. But seriously, the right to rule by combat? That's a terrible tradition that should have led to a corrupt government long ago. In the comics, the writers finally realized how dumb it was and had T'Challa abolish it. But aside from that, the story is told well, but it just feels so disconnected from the rest of the episode.  

Henry "Ant-Man" Pym 
Pym is the odd man out in the Marvel Universe. Most superheroes are about hitting the bad guy until he falls down, but Hank wants to talk them through whatever issues they have. Sure, that might not help someone like, say, the Kingpin. But someone like the Green Goblin? That could work wonders. And certain blondes would still be alive.  

Here's a question, though. What is Hank Pym a doctor of? I mean, look at all the stuff he's done. He's worked with Vibranium, developed a theory about size-changing particles, discovered them, used them to shrink and grow matter, works with ants, made a helmet to control them, replicates insect DNA, invented a bunch of robots, and designed a tiny prison. 

So the list of possible fields of expertise includes geology, theoretical physics, particle physics, regular physics, entomology, engineering, biology, genetics, robotics, cybernetics, and architecture.

Clearly, he is proficient not just in science, but in SCIENCE.  

Hank Pym: the Leonardo da Vinci of the Marvel universe.
Janet "Wasp" van Dyne 
She wants to fight crime. Badly. I'd even say it's like an addiction for her. With an offhanded mention of how she basically takes care of his financial problems, as well as a few shots of her wearing a fancy-schmancy diamond collar, she's hinted to be a bored rich girl. Now, there's more to her, but I'm saving it for when I discuss her relationship with Hank.  

Ulysses Klaw 
He's evil and wants Vibranium. Not very complex, but he's not really a "main" villain of the show. Still, he serves his purpose well, and moves the story well in Pym's plot and the Wakanda plot. Really, he's the only link between all the stories. Mark Hamill does as fine a job as ever. Seriously, the man's voice drips with gloriously unsubtle evil in this role. It's truly fine work. In fact, I'd honestly say it rivals his work as the Joker. No, really. The character's not really written to be much of a villain, but Hamill's performance is just... perfect. The voice he uses is so much fun to listen to. His voice sounds like it's gleefully sneering. It's a semi-raspy, semi-accented, croak of a voice. Imagine if Bane didn't need the breathing device, but instead smoked a pack a day for fifty years. And also had an unidentified European accent. Pure. Evil.  

Shame that he's only a C-list villain.

He's your standard warrior prince avenging his father. It's a good adaptation of the character, but the character itself is nothing new under the sun.

What? They're nice, polite robot guards. What makes you think they're going to wind up evil?  

You raise a good point.
And now, my promised rant on Hank and Jan. But before we begin, there's the can of worms that I must ensure remains sealed for the purposes of this analysis.  

The relationship between Janet and Hank is... complicated, both here and in the comics. But I'm DISREGARDING THE COMICS FOR THIS ANALYSIS. I'm talking about the versions specifically in this show.  

Hank and Jan's Relationship 
When it comes to their relationship in EMH, I have empathy for both of them. Jan wants to do what she wants to do, and Hank wants to do something different. I completely understand. I'm an aspiring actor/writer/comic book fan, and my girlfriend is a NASCAR-watching zoo assistant. In fact, yesterday (well, the day before I sat down to type this) I spent the day at the track with her, watching the cars go round and round. And when we spend time at the comic shop, the roles are reversed. I've been the uninterested newbie, and I've been the only person having fun. I understand both sides of this dynamic.  

But you know what my girlfriend and I do? We compromise. You know, the way people who actually like each other do. We each go with the other to the thing the other person's interested in, because it'd make them happy.  

Janet wants Hank to be a superhero with her, while he'd rather be doing science. And even when he goes along for superheroics, he'd rather focus on rehabilitating the criminals rather than hitting them in the face. And Janet basically says that Hank owes her something after all she's done for him, with the grants and suchlike, but we see nothing telling us that Hank even wanted her to do that stuff in the first place.  

The big question: Whose "side" am I on?  

I'm on Hank's side. Please allow me to explain my position before anyone accuses me of misogyny, or whatever. Hank may worry about Jan getting hurt fighting crime, but he's not forcing her to stop. Meanwhile, Janet is trying to force him to be Ant-Man. And this will eventually help lead him toward dissociative identity disorder. (Spoiler alert.) Pym accidentally building a genocidal robot won't help, either. (Spoiler alert.)  

I will admit, I went a little overboard when I called her "a needy, insensitive, self-centered whiner who needs an emotional punching bag of a boyfriend" in a previous Recap... but, to be blunt... she is. Janet VanDyne is simply not very good at empathizing with Hank. I'm sure that the character doesn't mean to be so self-centered, but she is. And down the line, it'll take its toll on him. And that's why I'm so hard on Janet. Because the way she treats him will literally drive him insane.  

But there is one big redeeming feature of the character. She's pretty hot. Just kidding. No, she is hot, but that's not the big redeeming feature. She wants to be a superhero. And that's exactly what this show needs.  Our various Avengers are, among the ones that will come much later: 

A lone wolf (Iron Man) 
Someone hated and feared by all (Hulk) 
Someone loved by all (Captain America) 
A wrongly hunted man (Hawkeye) 
A traitor (Black Widow) 
Someone who wants to do something else (Ant-Man) 
And someone who loves Avenging more than anything (Wasp)  

Janet van Dyne is the glue that will bind them all together. Heck, she's the one who names the team. And we'll get to see her do it soon. Because the next episode to recap and review is the series premiere.  

Until next time, Excelsior!


  1. Mark Hamill is great, from Fire Lord Ozai to Skips the yeti groundskeeper. I think he deservers all the praise he gets.

  2. I keep forgetting how great this show is. Now all we need is for Spider-Man and Doctor Doom to have bigger roles and it'll be the perfect Marvel cartoon.

    ... I can dream, can't I?

    - That One Anon