The 20th film in the ever growing MCU has arrived in Ant-Man and The Wasp. Fans of the MCU are in a pretty bad funk after the gut punching ending of Avengers: Infinity War. The emptiness that took over for months seemed to cloud the anticipation of this final installment for the MCU’s biggest year financially. (Both Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War joined the rare Billion Dollar Club, joining only 32 other films to reach $1,000,000,000 in worldwide gross earnings) Many were puzzled by the decision to release a seemingly “self-contained” story after the world changing events. I felt it was to maybe take the sting out of what happened in a world of characters we have grown to care for that took 10 years to fully realize.
The story follows the events after 2015’s Ant-Man and Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) involvement in Captain America: Civil War. Scott finds himself days away from the end of his 2-year house arrest sentence for breaking the all-important Sokovia Accords during Civil War’s fantastic airport battle in Germany that also sends Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) into hiding from the FBI and removing any association with Scott. With reasons that will not be explained here, Scott reconnects with Hank and Hope in a mission to possibly bring back Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) back from the Quantum Realm, where Scott visited in his fight again Yellow Jacket.
This is where Ant-Man and The Wasp starts to unravel. After setting up a plan to save Janet, smaller subplots start getting in the way of the mission. It’s a pretty layered movie in terms that these subplots don’t take away from the movie, but if maybe half of them were to be eliminated, there could have been more time to spend with the characters that made the first Ant-Man so charming. The returning supporting cast outside of Rudd, Douglas, Lilly and even Michael Pena as Luis are in the movie, but not into the same capacity as they were in the first.
The supposed disposable villain issue seemingly returns here. We have 2 main antagonists in the form of black market arms dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and former SHIELD operative Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). While both do well enough in their performances, I never felt that these were any type of threat to our heroes. They both were more of a nuisance or a pestering fly in a room that won’t go away. There is one scene in the film that almost saw a retread of the first film, but thankfully that idea is rejected.
The bread and butter of the movie is the chemistry and comedic banter between characters along with the great use of Ant-Man’s shrinking and enlarging abilities. Familiar gags such as Luis telling a story that takes way too long to get to the point and the dog size ants are back, this time mimicking Scott’s daily routine to avoid triggering his ankle monitor and helping Hank build a giant device to reach the Quantum Realm. I really liked how Hope and Scott sort of picked up where they both left off in Ant-Man. I had a bit of a feeling Hope would be overbearing. The first trailer depicted her as someone who not only had to clean up the mess Scott had made in Civil War, but that she can do the hero thing better than he could. Thankfully, she held her own but also teamed up well with Scott.
Action sequences and a fun car chase sequence through San Francisco were great. Evangeline Lilly as Wasp took on a more physical role this time around as she had more to do with the action scenes than Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. Her fights against the cannon fodder provided by Burch’s henchmen and going toe to toe with Ghost shined a light on her abilities that were hinted at in the previous film as she trained Scott. I was hoping for a showdown between the two in the end, but that did not come.
With a lot going on plot wise, the pace of Ant-Man and The Wasp was fairly good. We aren’t hit over the head with jokes and I never felt bored with revisiting certain aspects that were shown again. The mid credit scene does tie up the story till it unfolds in Avengers 4 coming out next May, but the end credit scene will fun for me is a bit useless.
This movie is pretty solid in terms of entertainment. Not every MCU movie (or superhero or comic book movie) needs to be on a grandiose scale or about savings the world or galaxy. Being “self-contained” can be good as it allows certain freedom creatively. Ant-Man filled that void, but Ant-Man and The Wasp filled that void even better.