Marvel’s surprise hit Ant-Man, released in 2015, served as a conclusion to the second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It arrived after Avengers: Age of Ultron and before Captain America: Civil War, two films that were grand in scale and told epic stories taking place in said universe. Ant-Man, on the other hand, was a smaller-scale film that contributed something to the MCU while still sticking to its guns. In the end, it wasn’t perfect, but it still provided entertainment, humor, and hilarious tropes on the superhero genre.
Ant-Man and the Wasp picks up a couple years after we last saw Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Scott is under house arrest for his involvement in the assistance of Captain America and has had a falling out with Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas). He decides to help them once more with their quest to rescue Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hope’s mother and Hank’s wife, from the Quantum Realm, which was once thought impossible to return from.
This is the third MCU movie to release this year, after Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, two films that raised the bar of which all superhero movies are judged by. Each one of them significantly altered the franchise in their own ways, with the former introducing audiences to Wakanda and the latter finally giving audiences a taste of the series’ most powerful villain to date, Thanos. Ant-Man and the Wasp, however, does exactly what made its predecessor so great. Instead of finding ways to link itself to the universe, it sticks to what it knows and simply tells a story instead of opening up possibilities for future connections.
Evangeline Lilly’s performance as Hope van Dyne was one of the highlights of the first film, but she, unfortunately, wasn’t used to her potential, as that was Ant-Man’s movie. This time, Lilly takes center stage as Wasp, Ant-Man’s winged counterpart. It’s a huge step up from her role in Ant-Man, as she’s smarter, stronger, and kicking even more ass than her male equivalent. Pure awesomeness.
While Wasp is clearly the intended focus of the movie, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is still the best part of it. His chemistry with every other actor in the movie is undeniable, and the film’s continuous jokes that revolve around tininess surprisingly work every time. It’s not easy following up a comedically-centered script with an even better one, but Ant-Man and the Wasp does it. It truly manages to outdo the original’s hilariousness, something that isn’t seen often.
Let’s talk about the villains of the movie. Marvel continues their growing trend of strong central antagonists with Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a woman who can phase through objects as a result of an experiment her late father conducted. John-Kamen’s performance is stunning and depicts a great level of emotion and depth not commonly seen in a Marvel villain. In addition, Walton Goggins’ Sonny Burch shows up to make things even more complicated for Hope and Scott, but he isn’t nearly as good as Ghost. He’s entertaining, but that’s about it. There’s nothing else that stands out.
The side characters are extremely entertaining and get way more to do this time around. Luis (Michael Peña) is extremely funny and provides a comic relief character that never gets annoying. Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) yet again adds an emotionally driving force to Scott’s story arc and his moments with her are heartwarming and sweet.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun, light, and entertaining entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that works in more ways than it doesn’t. The actors bring their easygoing charisma to the table once more, and while it still adds interesting contributions to the franchise, it feels very distinguishable, as it’s not as focused on connecting itself to other entries. There are a wee bit too many subplots to follow, and the movie handles its secondary villain poorly, but it’s easily some of the most fun to be had at the movies this summer.
Ant-Man and the Wasp stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas. Directed by Peyton Reed.