Ant-Man was a pleasant surprise when it was released in the summer of 2015. After the cataclysmic Avengers: Age of Ultron, the small-scale origin for how Scott Lang came to acquire the Ant-Man suit and become the world’s tiniest superhero was a welcomed reprieve. The film was an absolute delight and a reminder that Marvel could still pump out accessible and fun entries to please both the diehard and casual crowd.
Ant-Man and The Wasp finds itself in a similar situation by following Avengers: Infinity War. That film shook the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its very core, and though wildly entertaining, it was easily the least accessible Marvel film to date; requiring viewers to have seen all 18 prior films (and many more than once). Being a sequel, Ant-Man and The Wasp also asks that viewers have some familiarity with its characters and their plights, but its stakes are smaller and its problems more personal. Ant-Man and The Wasp is a fun, silly, and heartwarming adventure that focuses just as much on family as it does heroics.
After teaming with Captain America during Civil War, Scott was arrested along with the rest of Cap’s team. He’s been serving out his sentence on house arrest and now has just three days left to go until he’s a free man. The Ant-Man suit was also confiscated, which as result outed Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) as the suit’s creators and turned them into government fugitives.
Scott hasn’t seen or heard from Hope and Hank since, but when their research into the Quantum Realm unearths the possibility that Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfieffer) might still be alive, they’ll need Scott’s help to track her down. But they aren’t the only ones interested in the Quantum Realm, and soon, they and Hank’s suitcase-sized lab are on the run from the feds, an illegal arms dealer (Walter Goggins), and a strange new adversary with their own Quantum powers – Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).
Director Peyton Reed came on to the first Ant-Man late in the game, but proved the right choice. He and his team delivered a joy of a film, with plenty of laughs and clever action. Reed does it again with Ant-Man and The Wasp, even improving on the first.
Without needing to introduce the characters, the sequel can dive right into its story; which like the first, centers on the family relationships. Whether it be Scott and his daughter, Cassie, or Hank and Janet and Hope, the relationships between parents and their kids make up the emotional backbone of the film. This even more than the comedy is what makes Ant-Man and The Wasp stands out within the MCU, using another lens through which view superheroes.
But being that it’s a movie about superheroes, there has to be some superhero action and here Reed only ups his game again. Ant-Man was creative with the shrinking, but Ant-Man and The Wasp has clever action sequences that use an arsenal of tricks. Not only can Ant-Man and Wasp shrink, but Ant-Man can grow (as we saw first in Civil War), and Pym technology is applied to a variety of objects, from cars to Pez dispensers. This action goes in unexpected directions, giving Ant-Man and The Wasp an edge over the average superhero movie.
The Ant-Man films veer closer to being outright comedies than most superhero movies. Ant-Man’s powers, for instance, allow for a lot of size-related gags, and this sequel finds great ways to incorporate the jokes with the action. Michael Pena’s Luis returns as well, and just as he did in the first Ant-Man, he’s a fantastic source of comedy, making every scene he’s in all the funnier. Bobby Cannavale and Randall Park also give hilarious performances in their supporting roles as Cassie’s (Scott’s daughter) step-father and the federal agent assigned to monitor Scott’s house arrest. Even Michael Douglas scores some laughs as Hank becomes increasingly frustrated with Scott being, well, Scott.
Which brings us to Ant-Man and The Wasp’s stars – Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. Rudd is just as affable as ever as Scott, and Lilly gives Hope a fiery determination. Their chemistry was one of the reasons the first Ant-Man worked as well as it did, and this sequel just builds on that solid foundation. With Hope now truly The Wasp, she is absolutely a superhero in her own right and her fights scenes are the best in the movie. They are a team of equals, more so than they ever were in the comics, and it’s another of the film’s strengths. Their characters compliment each other not just because of their powers, but their personalities, and by the end they share a true partnership.
Doulgas is still a gruff, but loving father as Hank Pym, and he has even more active role to play in Ant-Man and The Wasp. This makes a lot of sense seeing as the drive here is rescuing his wife, but it also allows for some introspection into the guilt he still feels as well as how losing her made him push everyone away. As Janet, Michelle Pfieffer is simply wonderful, and it’s a shame she doesn’t come in earlier than she does. Laurence Fishbourne is good as Hank’s former associate, but the role is there more round out the backstory for Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost. She’s an intriguing villain and is easily one of the MCU’s most sympathetic, and as a result John-Kamen brings a real despair to her situation.
Ant-Man and The Wasp is a sequel that serves up more of what made the first Ant-Man such a delightful surprise. It isn’t a sequel that looks to drastically alter who these characters are, but rather reinforces what makes they unlike the other heroes in the MCU. The action is clever, the jokes are hilarious, and the emotions run high when the bonds between family are tested. Ant-Man and The Wasp is a solid entry in the MCU, teasing the future possibilities while delivering a fun superhero adventure that will please casual and die-hard fans alike.