Directed by Peyton Reed
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña
It’s two years since Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) broke the law to answer Cap’s call for help (Captain America: Civil War), and his term of home incarceration is almost at an end. With a new job as a security consultant and his daughter to consider, Lang barely thinks about his short stint as Ant-Man. However a troubling recollection from his time in the quantum realm (Ant-Man) comes back to haunt Lang, and soon he is entangled with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) as they must stay ahead of both S.H.I.E.L.D and criminal interests, to prevent Pym’s technology from falling into the wrong hands.
Despite its relatively light tone Ant-Man and the Wasp serves a number of purposes in the Marvel cinematic universe. After the devastating conclusion to Avengers: Infinity War, it acts as a bit of a pallet cleanser, and a much needed pick me up for fans that still might be a little traumatised. Yet it also acts as a little bit of a bridging gap between Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War in a way that many of the other films since then haven’t done, either with their concentration on introducing characters (Spiderman: Homecoming and Doctor Strange), or due to their location (Asgard, Wakanda, or space).
All of this is just ticking along in the background of the film, and although obviously a part of the script, never overwhelms this particular franchise’s unique sense of style. When you look into the minutia, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun romp. It might have at its heart messages of family, and it might serve the overall MCU franchise, both in tone and in story-telling (heck, there is even speculation that it is playing the long game with Lang’s daughter a member of the Young Avengers team – DOC), but its playful style and roguish characters bring with it a comedic element that is generally a secondary consideration for much of Marvel (with a few notable exceptions).
Part of this is the inventive way that the film deals with the shtick of Pym particles. The ridiculous concept is used to great effectiveness in the multitudes of fights and chases scattered throughout the movie. That sudden change in size, seems to add another layer of creativity, allowing us to see some pure comic craziness that we’ve never seen before. From tumbling giant Pez dispensers, to attacking whale like Tardigrades, it is an imaginative spectacle.
Then there is the effortless way that the cast bounce off each other. The tension between Rudd, Lilly and Douglas as they bicker amongst one another is fluid, and believable. There is a genuine chemistry there so the audience buys into their relationship. Peña’s performance is a little more forced, but his sense of comic timing is spot on, allowing for some good laughs to flow from his exaggerated performance. Sure Marvel’s villain problem might have reared its head again, with neither Ghost (Hannah John-Karmen) or Burch (Walter Goggins) having the pathos or menace of a Thanos or Killmonger, but in amongst the chases, heists and comedy – it’s never a deal breaker.
Nothing substantive, but certainly fun-size.