2015’s Ant-Man did the heavy lifting, setting up the origin story of how Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) came to wear a suit which turned him into a superhero the size of an insect. No longer saddled with introducing the non-comic book reading world to the character, Ant-Man and the Wasp gets to jump straight into the weird and occasionally wacky world of these costumed heroes.
Ant-Man and the Wasp kicks off with Scott Lang on house arrest after the unfortunate events of Captain America: Civil War. He’s on the outs with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) after going rogue and transforming into Ant-Man and Giant-Man, a public exposure of Dr. Pym and Hope’s technology that led to them becoming fugitives on the run from authorities.
Scott’s spending his days within the confines of his home, hanging out with his young daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson) and creating Ant-Man inspired tunnels and mazes to keep them both entertained. When he’s not acting like an overgrown kid, Scott’s trying to get the X-Con Security company he’s running with his buddies – Luis (Michael Pena), Kurt (David Dastmalchian), and Dave (Tip T.I. Harris) – off the ground.
He’s just a few days away from getting his ankle bracelet removed and his freedom back when he has a bizarre dream about Hank’s wife and Hope’s mom, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer). Janet, the original Wasp, has been lost in the Quantum Realm for decades. Recently, Hank and Hope have become convinced she’s still alive and have built a machine which will allow them to undertake a rescue.
Although Scott is hesitant to put his family – and life outside his home – in jeopardy, he reluctantly agrees to help Hank and Hope. Unfortunately, their efforts come to the attention of not only the FBI but also a gangster who wants their tech as well as a mysterious woman known as Ghost who’s aided by Dr. Pym’s former colleague, Bill Foster.
It’s worth noting that while Ant-Man’s listed first, this sequel is really all about the sting of the Wasp. Ant-Man and the Wasp is the first Marvel Studios film to have a female character featured in the title, and Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp is truly a badass in battle. Sure, Ant-Man gets in his share of licks, but he’s more the comic relief/family relationship type of guy than the hero everyone depends on to save the day.
Paul Rudd’s affable manner made him the perfect actor to take on the character in 2015’s origin story, but he’s even more enjoyable to watch in the sequel. Rudd’s comic timing and his natural charm match perfectly with the vibe of Ant-Man. It’s impossible not to root for the guy to pull off a win against nearly impossible odds.
Evangeline Lilly has been given much more to do in the sequel, and she takes full advantage of the increased screen time. Hope’s relationship with her dad is further explored, and it’s apparent she’s spent the last few years doing extensive fight training when not busy in the lab. Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly have terrific chemistry playing father and daughter, and he seems much more comfortable in this superhero world in this second outing.
Michael Pena’s rapid-fire delivery provides the film with one of its most memorable scenes. A debate among Pena, T.I. Harris, and David Dastmalchian over whether a drug is or is not truth serum lands some of the film’s biggest laughs.
Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Foster/Ghost is one of Ant-Man and the Wasp’s most intriguing new characters. Ghost is an unusual villain for a superhero film; she doesn’t want to become wealthy or rule the world. Instead, her attempt to steal Hank and Hope’s technology is strictly for personal reasons. She simply wants to stop living in constant pain, and she doesn’t want to die young.
Ghost and Wasp’s first fight scene is incredibly brutal. The stunt work, fight choreography, and special visual effects, which are outstanding throughout the film, are phenomenal in that scene in particular.
Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), Laurence Fishburne (black-ish) and Walton Goggins (Justified) are standouts among the supporting players, stealing scenes in a film packed with terrific performances. Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, Abby Ryder Fortson, and Divian Ladwa also contribute to making Ant-Man and the Wasp a hilarious entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There are some truly impressive effects in this Ant-Man sequel, especially in the creation of the Quantum Realm world which looks like a psychedelic ‘60s black light painting populated with creatures you’d spot while looking through a scientist’s microscope.
The writing’s sharp and the jokes hit their marks at an impressive rate. Director Peyton Reed allows a few serious moments within this fun ride, but he’s quick to flip a scene on its head with an unexpected comedic twist before it can darken the mood.
The Ant-Man films have carved their own niche in the MCU. They’re goofy, light-hearted fun, and perfect for those of us just looking for a few hours of good, escapist entertainment.
(Don’t forget to stick around for the two extra scenes in the credits.)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date: July 6, 2018