Ant-Man and the Wasp: A Tiny but Important Victory for Marvel

Marvel Studios ANT-MAN AND THE WASP..L to R: The Wasp/Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) ..Photo: Ben Rothstein..©Marvel Studios 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp begins about two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds himself under house arrest for violation of the Sokovia Accords—the new international decree that forbids unauthorized and unregulated superhero activity. While combating extreme boredom, Lang has begun making some changes in his life that he hopes will prepare him for a stable a life once he’s on parole. He’s used the time to grow closer to his family, come to terms with the fact that his days as Ant-Man are over, and even helped start his own security company with his friend Luis (Michael Peña).

The situation for Lang’s friends is not as rosy. Due to their association with Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are continually on the run from the authorities, with warrants out for their arrest. Foremost on the Pyms’ minds is Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, who was lost many years during a mission where she shrunk herself to a subatomic level and entered what is known as the Quantum Realm. Given Lang’s successful journey to and from the Quantum Realm in the first film, the Pyms have new ideas on how to rescue their long-lost family member. Unfortunately, the technology they have, and need, puts them in the crosshairs of a mysterious woman known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who can phase through matter, and a dangerous black-market arms dealer (Walton Goggins), so Hank and Hope reluctantly call on Lang for his assistance.

What works in Ant-Man and the Wasp are the playful physics the refreshing qualities. Director Peyton Reed channels his inner child and crafts some action sequences and moments that are both exhilarating and entertaining throughout the film. The concept of size is wonderfully crafted into clever situations, often with very comical results, thanks to both Rudd and Lilly who wholly embrace the silliness of it all. Of particular note is an extended third-act chase sequence through San Francisco that will have audiences both gasping and laughing out loud, often at the same time.

The sequel is also a breath of fresh air for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). After the intense material that permeated Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is light and breezy, like a raspberry sherbet in between heavy courses in a long meal. It’s refreshing to see Lilly featured as an awesome female complete free of the sidekick moniker—she’s unquestionably the lead hero and never the damsel. It’s refreshing to have villains that are not maniacally evil with powers that mirror the heroes. It’s refreshing to have a conflict and plot that feels comparatively…small in scale. You won’t find apocalyptic portals in the sky here—the challenges are all personal in nature.

While Ant-Man and the Wasp is all-in-all delightful, there are some tiny issues that may nag at audiences. Mostly these are the buzzing questions that they’ll have to swat away from their brains. For example: Why is Lang still qualified to be Ant-Man? He’s clearly not the sharpest stinger in the hive; Where do the women stash all their makeup in their super-suits?; and on many occasions: How exactly did <redacted spoiler> do that thing where they <redacted spoiler>?

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a piece of bite-sized entertainment with a big heart. While it may ultimately become forgotten, in a summer where the world is ending on screen every weekend at your local cineplex, it’s nice to have a film that will remind us what superheroes are at their core: fun.

Recommended if you enjoyed: Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Final Grade: B+

Photos Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures