This is the 20th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first Ant-Man managed to find its own niche as a heist film, packed with comedy. It suffered from a weak villain but overall really entertained. Here, the sequel has to find ways to innovate and expand, all while immediately following up on the success of Avengers: Infinity War. Can this film carry that burden?
This movie takes place before Avengers: Infinity War. Master thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on house arrest, after helping Captain America during Civil War. He only has a few days left and his FBI contact (Randall Park) is anxious to catch him messing up and put him away for good. When he gets a strange vision of Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), he reconnects with Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to venture into the quantum realm to try to rescue her. However, they’re not the only ones looking for this technology, as a stealthy assassin code-named Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and a black market tech dealer (Walton Goggins) also fight over this ability to travel through the quantum realm. Scott teams up with his old buddies (Michael Pena, T.I., and David Dastmalchian) as well as going to one of Hank’s old colleagues (Laurence Fishburne) for help.
Scott isn’t the only one to suit up here, as Hope (Lilly) also gains a suit that can fly and shoot blasts, code-named The Wasp.
Like the first film, Ant-Man and the Wasp delivers a very different experience from the other Marvel films. The villain here isn’t trying to destroy the world or take over anything. The scale is much smaller (pun intended). It’s actually a breath of fresh air following Infinity War, where literally the universe was at stake.
This movie also relies much more on comedy, like the original film did. Rudd and Pena carry the comedic weight here, though the addition of Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) was a stroke of genius, as he delivered some of the best moments. There’s plenty of pratfalls and physical humor but there’s also plenty of (seemingly) ad-libbed stuff from the cast that is pure gold.
This comedy intersects with action when the visual effects come into play. The action is intense and thrilling but it’s also laced with comedy, as the car chase reveals that their car is a few inches big or when a henchman is knocked down by a human-sized Pez dispenser. Plenty of laughs make these action scenes feel unique in the Marvel world so far, making up for the smaller stakes.
The small scale, while refreshing, may not have you on the edge of your seat. The villain is intriguing and has a solid motivation (unlike Yellowjacket from the first film) but she doesn’t threaten our heroes in any serious way. Walton Goggins serves as the more traditional villain and there’s only so much a normal guy can do against our heroes here, resulting in a climax that is a little underwhelming.
The cast also feels a little bloated here, meaning that quite a few characters are really relegated to cameos. Michael Pena gets to shine but T.I. and David Dastmalchian get only a few lines each. Some other new characters get only a few scenes each, not to spoil too much.
There is one great mid-credit scene to stay for, but the final end-credit stinger is not worth the wait, especially considering it’s a gag that was spoiled in the trailers and commercials.
Ant-Man and the Wasp manages to make improvements on the first film, finding creative new ways to create suspense and action using our heroes’ powers. The effects are incredible, the comedy almost always hits, and there’s some great new additions to the cast, but a few folks get pushed to the sidelines or aren’t really given much screentime. This is a solid adventure though, so most of you should have a great time and plenty of laughs.