In a movie universe where superheroes, gods, and titans are battling each other for the power to change every facet of reality as we know it, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming. In that sense, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fantastic way to put one’s feet up, and take a little breather. It’s a fun, compact movie that tackles relatively low stakes – and it’s comfortingly refreshing.
The last time audiences saw Ant-Man was actually not in his 2015 debut, but in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. There, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang fought on Cap’s side, facing off against the likes of Iron Man, Black Panther, and Spider-Man. Of course, that fight also ended up with him imprisoned aboard the Raft, an underwater jail designed for superpowered criminals.
Fast forward two years later, and Scott (as shown in the trailer) is now under house arrest, serving out the remainder of his sentence at home in America. Hank Pym and his daughter Hope Van Dyne soon come calling once again, and Scott’s latest adventure is under way.
Truly, it’s a very simple movie. It largely relies on the charisma of Paul Rudd to get from scene to scene, and that’s not a flaw – director Peyton Reed returns to direct the sequel, and he clearly knows how to maximize the charming Rudd. What’s even better is that he knows how to maximize Evangeline Lilly, who also returns as Hope. As the title indicates, she takes on her mother’s mantle as the Wasp, and she kicks some serious ass. Not only is she easily the coolest, most ferocious character in this entire film, she definitely ranks up there with some of the MCU’s finest.
The film also delves into the whereabouts of the original Wasp, Hope’s mother, and Hank’s wife. Audiences never saw her face in the first film – likely because they hadn’t cast her back in 2015 – but they put a face to the name in one of the movie’s very first scenes. Michelle Pfeiffer joins as Janet Van Dyne, and while she doesn’t get much screen time, it was pretty fun to see her with Michael Douglas’s Pym. Somehow, the two of them never were in a movie together before now, despite being two of the most famous actors on Earth for the better part of two decades.
Ant-Man and the Wasp also doesn’t have a real villain – there is an antagonist, ‘Ghost’, played by Hannah John-Kamen (Ready Player One), though her motivations are largely more personal than anything else. Walton Goggins joins as a southern gangster, complete with Texas drawl – he’s a treat in most movies, although he’s used as little more than comic relief here.
That’s not entirely a bad thing, because the comedy is where this movie shines. It certainly has some impressive action sequences, but the jokes and riffing lies at the heart of it all, and it’s wonderful. Randall Park is brilliant as an awkward FBI agent, and Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, and rapper T.I. return as Lang’s ex-criminal buddies as well. Pena’s character Luis is as talkative as ever; one particular sequence involving Luis being drugged is perhaps the highlight of the entire movie.
The Marvel formula has gotten a little heavy as of late, and for obvious reasons; they want the situation with Thanos to feel weighty (as it should). Even so, it’s nice to take a break from that from time to time, and Ant-Man and the Wasp uses comedy to disarm the audience completely – if only until next year.
Finally, this should go without saying by now, but still: stick around for the post-credits scene. You don’t want to miss it.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is now in theatres.
You can find Sho on Twitter at @SNSAlli for all kinds of movie news. Also, gaming stuff. That’s there too.