February 25, 2020

Familial Bonds in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’

Hollywood churns out superhero movies faster than a speeding bullet, films that can seem oversaturated with formulaic stories that prioritize CGI explosions over human emotions. They are often entertaining but rarely contribute anything meaningful to modern culture.

Fortunately, while “Ant-Man and the Wasp” doesn’t skimp on action scenes, it still leaves enough room for laugh-out-loud humor and a large dose of heart and soul. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is really about the power of family and its timely message makes it a wholesome film that elevates the cultural conversation.

Superheroes have notoriously bad or absentee parents. Superman is rocketed to Earth by his dying father. Spider-Man lives with his aunt because his parents are dead. Batman witnesses his parents’ murder. Wonder Woman grew up without a father and her mother lied about it. Consequently, superhero family life and parenthood, if shown at all, are generally portrayed in a negative light.

But in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the family dynamic shines.  The story revolves around three daughters who try to save their parents. In the first “Ant-Man” film, Scott Lang turns his life around to be there for his daughter Cassie, and in the sequel, Cassie literally saves him from a meddling FBI agent. 

The central plot of  “Ant-Man and the Wasp” revolves around Hope Pym and her father, Hank, attempting to rescue Hope’s mother from the Quantum Realm. Ghost, the sympathetic villain, became metaphysically unstable as a child when she tried to save her father from a quantum explosion. The fallout left her feeling constant pain but also enabled her to “phase” in and out of physical space.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” reminds us that parenting without engagement and direction can be just as harmful as neglect.

After Hope and Hank rescue their mother from the Quantum Realm, Hope heals Ghost using the power of Quantum Energy, cementing the idea that Ghost feels better when a mother takes care of her.

The film highlights how daughters need their parents and that a functional family life is worth saving. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” celebrates family and the special relationship between parents and their children with a wholesome and traditional message.  

In addition, Ghost’s pain is the pain of a child with incredible potential who is neglected or abused by parents who do not provide him or her with the structure necessary to harness their greatness. 

One of the greatest gifts of modernity is the opportunity to explore the world beyond our front door. Good parents support their children on their journeys of self-discovery. They are present physically and emotionally. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” reminds us that parenting without engagement and direction can be just as harmful as neglect. Similarly, suppressing curiosity and withholding the tools of discovery from children robs them of realizing their full potential. 

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” can be used to elevate our conversations with friends and especially family. See it as a family and discuss it as a family. Learn from one another together as a family.

Soulful people should support Hollywood’s virtuous productions like “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and motivate studios to create more wholesome content. By doing so, together we can transform Hollywood into “Holywood.”

Eli Fink is a rabbi, writer and managing supervisor at the Jewish Journal.