Once again Marvel has taken the aftertaste of a dark-toned Avengers team-up and injected some much-needed Paul Rudd. Ant-Man And The Wasp manages to reach higher than the original while staying grounded and personal. The sequel is funnier, punchier, more action-packed than the original. While super-fans may still hold a grudge toward Peyton Reed for replacing Edgar Wright (in the original) this follow-up proves that the franchise is in the correct hands.
All of the major players are back, many in elevated roles. Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang/Ant-man alongside Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van-Dyne/The Wasp. The pair continues their great chemistry from the prior film, but this time Hope gets to suit up. Michael Douglas returns as Hank Pym, Michael Peña steals scenes as Luis, and the young Abby Ryder Fortson tugs heartstrings as Cassie Lang. The new additions of Randall Park, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburn and Michelle Pfieffer round out this excellent cast. Everyone does more than pull their weight here, and it results in a great viewing experience.
Last Time On Ant-Man
The MCU has a density problem that grows with every movie. Some of the movies can chug along without extensive knowledge of the other films, but this isn’t one. While two movies don’t seem like a lot, one of those movies wasn’t directly about these characters. Even for us that watch all the MCU movies (among others in the genre), there has been a good three years and seven movies since we last saw the gang. There’s some ground to cover before the film can kick off, and Peyton Reed does it masterfully.
At no point does the recap feel overdone. We open to a voiceover of Hank Pym speaking to his daughter Hope about the true nature of her mother’s death. Hank knew that Janet died during a mission, but didn’t reveal this to Hope until she was an adult. The truth was that Janet got lost in the Quantum Realm saving lives. We’re quickly reminded that when Scott went subatomic and returned in the original Ant-Man, it gave reason to believe Janet Van-Dyne might still be in the Quantum Realm. Immediately everyone in the theatre is aware of the stakes and purpose of the continuing story.
The set-up continues with Scott and Cassie. The two are enjoying some playtime together in a cardboard maze. Their bond is strong, helped by strong chemistry between Rudd and Ryder Fortson. Their mini-adventure ends with Scott accidentally breaching his perimeter and alerting the FBI. Again we see Peyton Reed swiftly get the viewers up to speed. FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Park) reminds Scott that he only has three days left in the two-year house arrest for breaking The Sakovia Accords. After the FBI leaves Scott falls asleep and sees a memory that isn’t his, but Janet’s. He calls Hank, who he hasn’t spoken in years, and leaves a message detailing the incident. This event kicks off the first conflict – Hank now has possible proof that Janet is alive, but Scott can’t help, or he risks losing his daughter.
All About Family
Ant-Man And The Wasp succeeds in every way that the original stumbled. An uninspired villain is replaced with a tragic woman trying to survive. The straightforward story makes way for a multi-layered affair. Even the tie-in to the greater MCU takes back seat to a more intimate tale. The stakes for the characters are higher than before, yet the scale is much smaller (pun intended). This isn’t a sequel where the threat is bigger and the entire world is at stake. This allows much deeper character growth among the characters. Luckily, the cast is more than up to the task.
The chemistry among the cast in a movie like this makes or breaks everything. For Ant-Man And The Wasp, it definitely did the former. These people are family, on multiple levels, and they all want to do what’s best for each other, even if they don’t realize it at first. I don’t want to delve too deep into it all, because that’s one of the joys of watching. The notion of family and a team, in all its forms, is rooted throughout the film and explains motivations from all ends. There is a level of sincerity that is rarely achieved in a premise so initially outlandish.
Outlandish is what fans of the MCU needed this summer. After a devastating blow, it’s nice to have something to laugh about. Comedy is hard, and action-comedy is harder still. I thought it was a tall order sizing up with other MCU movies like Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1 or Thor: Ragnarok, but I have to say Ant-Man And The Wasp pulls it off, and exceeded expectation. There wasn’t a single joke or visual gag that didn’t land with the audience I enjoyed the movie with. It never felt tacked on either, whether due to the cast, underlying premise, or the situations that the writers tied the comedy to. The funny never diminished the dramatic.
If you’re looking for a fun summer flick, something you will walk out of with a smile on your face, this is the movie to see. With the recap given in the opening minutes, it’s not even required to have watched the first one. If you weren’t a fan of the first one, there’s nothing this will do to change your mind, however. Ant-Man And The Wasp is the result of a cast and director refining everything they did before. The movie isn’t perfect, but that’s the appeal. They play fast and loose with physics and science, but it’s clear that those aspects aren’t crucial. This is a movie to walk into and just leave your worries behind.
Of course, you may want to stay past the credits for a very crucial scene if you follow these movies religiously. You’ll definitely want to see it. Can’t promise it won’t change your mood a little though.
Ant-Man And The Wasp is currently playing in theatres across North America and will open in Europe after the World Cup is done.