Next week, Ant-Man and The Wasp descends on theaters. Apparently it’s pretty good! I’d be excited, but alas, I live in the UK—and for a godawful reason, Disney has decided to delay its release here until August 3. That reason is, unfortunately, a bunch of sports people punting balls around in Russia. And it sucks.
We’ve known for a while that this year’s Russian World Cup was going to disrupt the summer box office in the UK, as studios scrambled to avoid the inevitable ratings behemoth that is the biggest event in my nation’s most beloved sport—watching the England national team show a fleeting glimpse of competence only to eventually crash out in stunning disappointment because really, being a stunning disappointment on an international scale is sort of our favorite past time of late. This makes some sense, admittedly, given that the currently most-watched television event of the year in Britain was England’s debut match in the tournament against Tunisia, trumping even our other favorite past time, fawning over royalty. Why risk a dip in box office hauls while seemingly the entire nation is glued to their televisions?
Except then, when it comes to the delayed release of Ant-Man and the Wasp, there’s folks like me, who grew up reading comic books and being dragged to boring football games by my parents in misguided attempts to get me interested in a sport that was as dull as dishwater in comparison to the wild antics and vast aesthetic excesses of ‘90s superhero comics. Folks like me, who now get to spend the next entire month attempting to dodge details about Ant-Man and The Wasp breathlessly making their way around the internet in an attempt to stay pure. Which, considering my job is to be online soaking in all that discussion, is going to be hard! I wouldn’t mind catching a spoiler or two if I actually had gotten the chance to see the movie before I saw them, but outside of buying a flight to the US, I don’t have that chance at all.
While they’re on two very different scales, just look at the social reaction to Marvel’s last movie release, Avengers: Infinity War (which in and of itself had its American release date brought forward a week to bring it in line with international release dates, so, you know, fans wouldn’t be spoiled). Within days of the film’s release its hugest spoilers became living memes, and discussion about its story was everywhere you looked. Hell, even the art of trying to post spoilers without context became itself a memetic angle of discussion about the movie.
These movies have huge fanbases eager to talk about them and share the experience of enjoying them as a community—and when you don’t get to be part of the zeitgeist and fun because of an arbitrary decision by some Disney executive somewhere getting worried about sportsball nonsense eating away at profit potentials, it’s a sucky situation. I’m pissed about it. Paul Rudd is pissed about it. Even Evangeline Lily is pissed about it! And she seems like someone you really don’t want to piss off.
Okay, it doesn’t really suck in the grand scheme of things, so put away the tiny violin you’ve Pym-particle’d for me. There’s plenty of things that suck to go around right now. But hey, you know what would be a real great escape from the latest news cycle from hell? A good, fun movie about silly comic book characters growing and shrinking and hunting for Michelle Pfeiffer. And the damned World Cup is stopping me from getting that. What am I meant to do instead, go outside and enjoy what counts as summer in the UK!? Ugh.
Plus, let’s be real: sure, the World Cup can occasionally be magical, in so much as 90 minutes of men having a kickabout can be. But it’s not this:
And I’d rather have that, thanks.