Parents who made the questionable decision to schlepp their kids to Avengers: Infinity War, struggled to explain — in both technical and emotional terms — that movie’s incredibly depressing ending. Even now, having had weeks to mourn, thinking about poor Spider-Man still bring the tears to the eye. It was enough to make a father view the Marvel Universe with suspicion. Fortunately, Ant-Man and the Wasp have come to allay fears.
Chronologically, Ant-Man and the Wasp is essentially an Infinity War prequel, but the universe-altering events of that film aren’t really relevant to this adventure. True, some aspects of Infinity War pop-up in the post-credits scene, but, overall, this Marvel outing is breezily self-contained. Despite being smaller in scale both narratively and literally (there are a lot of shrinking people), the film has a big heart. Is Ant-Man and the Wasp too scary for kids? As always, that depends on the kids. But mostly it’s fine. It feels like a make-good for the kids.
If a young child (under six-years-old) has never seen a superhero movie before, then Ant-Man and the Wasp could be jarring — if only because the kinetic action scenes and occasional punching can be disturbing to those who have never seen it. Also, there are some giant, person-sized ants. If kids are freaked out by bugs, the big ants might be a little disturbing, but the ants are friendly and exclusively played for laughs. They’re adorable. Seriously.
The scariest moments in Ant-Man and the Wasp undoubtedly come from the machinations of a villain called “The Ghost.” The Ghost has a kind of spacesuit outfit that feels like it was borrowed from Zombie NASA (ZNASA). However, it’s revealed pretty quickly that The Ghost isn’t really a villain per se, but actually a victim of circumstance. If your kids are worried that she’s going to do something bad or hurt the good guys, hang tight. This is one of those stories where the villain is pretty much redeemed.
There’s very little death depicted on screen in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Even the shady arms-dealers are rounded-up and turned into the FBI, not killed or shot in some horrific battle. And, the truth sermon sequences that begin somewhat menacingly, quickly turn comedic.
In almost every way, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the most family-friendly Marvel movie ever, combining lighter elements that make it more akin to Incredibles 2 than to Infinity War. In fact, in terms of some of the imagery, Ant-Man and the Wasp may be less scary than Incredibles 2 in one respect. In Incredibles 2, superheroes get brainwashed into being bad guys, something that can be very disturbing for kids. Nothing like that happens in Ant-Man and the Wasp.
There is one caveat to all of this. The first post-credits scene for Ant-Man and the Wasp references the ending of Infinity War in a huge way. If your kid hasn’t seen Infinity War, they might ask why a few characters suddenly disappeared and were replaced by ash at the very end. However, this pseudo-cliffhanger is vague enough that it might just feel like a weird twist for some kids. In other words, at no point does the movie overtly say any of these characters are dead.
For kids that are used to superhero movies, you can take them to Ant-Man and the Wasp with confidence. For younger kids or kids who aren’t used to this kind of thing, proceed with mild caution. But, in contrast to all the other big action movies out there, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a refreshingly lighthearted break from the heavy stuff.
–Ant-Man and the Wasp is out now in movie theaters everywhere.-