There’s a recurring source of tension in Ant-Man and the Wasp thanks to Scott Lang’s sentence of two years under house arrest for his actions in Captain America: Civil War. No matter how many zany adventures Paul Rudd’s character has in this sequel, he has to periodically race back to his San Francisco apartment and re-don his ankle bracelet whenever hapless FBI agent Jimmy Woo (the funny Randall Park) decides to check in on him. It’s a fun bit, and it harks back to an earlier age in the MCU, when a Marvel hero’s biggest concern could be staying out of trouble with the law.
We’ve yet to see what a post-Infinity War world looks like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Regardless of how it eventually gets undone, what effect will Thanos’s finger snap have in the short term? How will the tone shift in Avengers 4? Those questions are irrelevant in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which quickly places itself before the events of Infinity War. That may be a knock against it for those hoping for some answers, but this movie’s tone is much lighter as a result, perfectly in line with the original Ant-Man‘s.
The first Ant-Man introduced Scott Lang (Rudd) along with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Ant-Man and the Wasp directly picks up their story following Scott’s involvement in Civil War: Scott’s two years of house arrest are almost up, but Hope drags him back into a life of illegal heroism in a plot to save her mother, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne, from the “quantum realm” in which she’s been stranded for 30 years.
How can Janet be alive down there after all this time? How could Hank and Hope possibly find her? This movie is brimming with pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo about things like “entanglement” and “quantum tunnels.” It gets a little exhausting, but the movie is self aware about its own ridiculousness; at one point, Scott asks Hank and his colleague Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) whether they just stick the word “quantum” in front of everything to make it sound more scientific. Good question, Scott!
Ant-Man and the Wasp introduces a couple of new villains in the forms of Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost, who stalks the heroes in hopes of stealing their secret lab, and Walton Goggins’ Sonny Burch, a black market merchant who decides he wants the quantum tech for himself. Goggins is his typical hilariously sleazy self, while John-Kamen’s more overtly dramatic performance fits her character.
But most important is the Wasp herself, Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne, who completely owns this movie. Hope proves–unsurprisingly–to be a much more capable Ant-Man than Ant-Man himself, with confidence and skill that are thrilling to watch. It makes the entire plot of the first movie–that Hank had to enlist the deadbeat Scott in the first place instead of just trusting his daughter to do the job–seem even more ludicrous in retrospect. Hopefully Lilly decides to stick around the MCU for a while, as her presence would be much appreciated in future installments.
Like the first Ant-Man, this movie has great fight choreography that sees both heroes frequently changing from normal to small to massive and back again in creative ways. Some of the most fun sequences are car chases where one or more vehicles are constantly shrinking down to Hot Wheels size and back to normal, throwing off pursuers and causing general zany chaos.
There’s an added dash of humor from the fact that Scott’s suit for much of the movie is malfunctioning, leaving him unable to control when he changes size. That leads to an especially funny sequence where Scott is running around his daughter’s middle school at about 3 feet tall, trying to remain undetected. Cassie herself is still played by the ridiculously charismatic Abby Ryder Fortson, who gives Paul Rudd tit-for-tat in every scene they’re in together.
Michael Peña’s Luis returns with a vengeance too, with his voice-overed montage gag from the first–in which he tells a story while the characters he’s describing act it out–is funnier than ever. This time around he gets injected with a sort of truth serum, causing his rapid fire rambling to span topics ranging from Scott’s psychiatric health to his family’s love of Morrissey. He’s more actively involved in the story, as well, which is pure wish fulfillment for viewers who loved his character in the first movie.
Like the original Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp is primarily a palette cleanser in the MCU as a whole (the first movie was sandwiched in between the dense Age of Ultron and the dour Civil War). Ant-Man and the Wasp is hilarious, fun, silly, self aware, and creative. Filled with pseudo-science gobbledigook, crazy action, and multiple villains all vying for screen time, it’s one of the most comic-booky MCU movies yet. The fates of all our favorite heroes after Avengers: Infinity War may still be up in the air, but in the meantime, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a welcome distraction.
|The Good||The Bad|
|Lighthearted and funny||Pseudo-science mumbo jumbo gets ridiculous|
|Evangeline Lilly phenomenal as the Wasp||No answers for Infinity War fans|
|Multiple fun new villains|
|Creative shrinking-and-growing action|
|Self aware about its sillier aspects|
|Much-needed palette cleanser following Infinity War|