Scott Lang = Dad of the year.
Avengers: Infinity War, released just a couple months ago, left us all slightly on edge. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen it and now how it ends (I won’t spoil it, just in case), but it left the state of the MCU in a worrisome upheaval.
Along comes Ant-Man and the Wasp — the next movie in Marvel’s long list of releases — giving us a brief pause and much-needed breath of fresh air from all that drama.
Set before the events of Infinity War but a couple years after everything went down in Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is still on house arrest after that little — actually, in reality, quite large — stunt he pulled in Germany with Captain America.
To Scott’s credit, he hasn’t broken that house arrest even once. Ever since he’s been threatened with 20 years in prison, he’s reevaluated himself and decided that he wants to be the father that his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston) deserves.
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) really couldn’t care less about losing Scott, either. Ever since Civil War, they’ve also been labeled enemies of the nation and have been on the run ever since.
That has been especially troublesome for Hank, as he’s been working on a way to re-enter the quantum realm. Ever since Scott survived going subatomic during the events of the first Ant-Man, he’s been obsessed with finding a way to bring his wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), back from the same place.
He was getting close too — real close. After having to go on the run, though, he and Hope were suddenly forced to make their negotiations for machinery behind closed doors, which has made the whole process way more complicated than it should have been.
The bad news is that Hank isn’t the only one looking to enter the quantum realm. A new mysterious figure who has the ability to walk through walls and other objects — which is why she’s appropriately given the name of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) — also needs this technology, for her own reasons. And since she doesn’t have the same scientific gifts that Hank does, it means she’s going to have to steal them.
Try as he might, Scott is eventually brought back into the action. Luckily, he doesn’t have to do it alone this time — Hope has taken on his mother’s suit of the wasp, so they can team up to protect Hank’s technology together.
The phrase that you’re going to hear over-and-over again in any Ant-Man and the Wasp review that you read is counter-programming. Infinity War was what Marvel had been building up for the past ten years, as it gave us all these crazy high stakes and whatnot, while Ant-Man and the Wasp takes a much lighter, Saturday morning cartoon kind of vibe.
That, in my mind, is a good thing. The only way this franchise is going to be able to further sustain itself is if they do different things in each movie, so it doesn’t come repetitive and stale. We saw all of the Avengers just fight for the entire fate of the universe, so not it feels pretty relaxing to kick-back and watch a much smaller-scaled story about some pals just having a good time.
And who better to do that than Ant-Man? He’s always been a fun character and I actually really enjoy the first Ant-Man for similar reasons that I enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp, as this is a worthy sequel that’s a whole lot of fun.
Digging a bit further into the characters, I really like what director Peyton Reed does with the character of Scott in this one. This easily could have become a retread of the first Ant-Man in which Scott was a distant father trying to reconnect with his daughter, while also trying to prove himself to Hank and fall in love with Hope.
The love story is a more of the same from the first movie and I think a bit unnecessary, but all the other elements of Scott’s story are progressed rather than retold. Scott isn’t the distant father anymore — he’s a great father who his daughter now looks up to, and we get to see the next step in that relationship. Hank knows Scott is capable of wearing the Ant-Man suit, so we get to spend time developing their family dynamic rather than having to start from square one.
No one can deny that Evangeline Lilly is the real standout of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Let’s be honest, Scott may be the more relatable and funny character of the two, but Hope is the one who knows how to get things done and is an actual badass. She’s given way more to do this time around, as she isn’t restricted to being the angsty one, and she totally nails it.
I still give Peyton Reed all the credit in the world for casting both Lilly and Rudd in these roles. Before Ant-Man, no one ever thought of either of them for a super-hero movie, but seeing them now just seems to make so much sense.
Story-wise, Ant-Man and the Wasp is pretty simple. Hank wants to find a way to bring his wife back, while everyone else is trying to steal that technology from him. There’s a few twists and turns that follow (one character reveal that happens pretty early on, which I didn’t see coming), but that’s pretty much the central theme for this all.
Again, that works for Ant-Man and the Wasp because that’s all this movie is really trying to be — a fun adventure that shows off some really cool shrinking/growing cool.
Those are easily the best parts of the movie, too. Reed knows that a lot can be done with this concept, as there really isn’t another movie like Ant-Man out there that fully utilizes that kind of concept. Seeing an action scene take place in the real-world, only to then have it totally re-invented as the characters shrink and enter a whole new landscape.
Like a lot of other Marvel movies, Ant-Man and the Wasp struggles with its villains. Maybe it’s just because we’ve been blessed with a few great antagonists in this universe lately — Killmonger and Thanos — but Ghost seemed pretty underdeveloped and was altogether not that interesting.
She starts off intriguing and right around the beginning of the second half they explain her backstory, which actually had a lot of potential. After that, though, they really don’t do much else with her and she’s stuck becoming generic bad guy #107.
Walton Goggins gets a similar treatment. It’s a shame because Walton Goggins is such a talented actor (I would argue he was Oscar-worthy in The Hateful Eight), and yet most movies he appears in don’t really know how to use him. He’s stuck doing the same old villain stick he’s become known for at this point, and his character really doesn’t have a point for being in the film other than making things more complicated than they need to be.
Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t going to win over anyone who is sick of super-hero movies and blockbusters. This is pretty formulaic by Marvel standards, as anyone who had a problem with the amount of humor these movies contain certainly won’t like that one. Sometimes that gets on my nerves too, but here, I think it works. We need a pause after Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp is the logical property to give us that break. I don’t think it’s quite as clever or developed as the first Ant-Man was, but I was also having a perfectly enjoyable experience watching this movie throughout the entire runtime.
I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of that Michael Peña monologuing joke, either. Please never ever get rid of that.
Watch the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp here and let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!
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