Ant-Man and the Wasp Review: Let's Get SmallJul 05, 2018
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrer
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
Michael Peña, Jannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale
All photos courtesy of Marvel
In recent months some critics have complained that superhero movie fatigue is setting in. Ant-man and The Wasp would beg to differ, delivering a second chapter that is both fun to watch and a welcome relief after the high-stakes, universe-in-danger drama of Avengers: Infinity War.
The “How I Rescued Your Mother!” storyline of Ant-Man and the Wasp is a welcome change of pace in the receding shadow of Thanos’ finger-snappin’ moment that snuffed out half of the beings in the universe. With a couple of discreet references, this second chapter of Earth’s tiniest hero answers the question of “Where exactly was Ant-Man during the battle with Thanos.”
It turns out that Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has been under house arrest since the events of Captain America: Civil War. With the FBI popping in to check up on him at the most inopportune moments, Lang is officially off the Avengers roster until he finishes out his sentence. To make matters worse, it turns out that when Lang chose to up with Cap for the Sokovia Accords Showdown in Germany, he didn’t actually ask permission to borrow the Ant-Man suit from its creator, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). That decision has earned him a hard closed-door policy from both Pym and his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly).
Hank and Hope have come to believe that his wife/her mother, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer, is alive in the Quantum Realm and are hard at work searching for a way to rescue her. Standing in their way is a quantum-shifting antagonist known as The Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a rival scientist (Laurence Fishburn), and an oily arms dealer (Walton Goggins) who wants the Ant-Man technology so he can sell it to the highest bidder. Naturally, with just three days left on his sentence, Lang is uncomfortably thrown back into partnership with Hank and Hope as they seek to construct a Quantum Tunnel and rescue Janet.
Much has been made of the shared top billing of The Wasp for this movie. The truth is, Hope/The Wasp is much more the lead for this film than is Scott/Ant-Man. If you remember from the first Ant-Man movie, Hope was chafing under Hank’s refusal to let her take on the superhero mantle. Hard to blame Hank, though. He lost his wife when her super-heroics stranded her in the Quantum Realm forever. So, it makes sense that he would be hesitant to let his daughter tempt fate as well.
After watching Scott bravely, but comically, bumble his way to a victory over The Yellowjacket in the first Ant-Man movie, Hope shows her mettle as a fully-capable superhero. She’s powerful, decisive, intelligent, and fearless with a dash of self-aware humor thrown in for good measure. Scott/Ant-Man is playing second fiddle here, and to his credit, he’s ok with that. Lilly, Rudd, and Douglas are apparently having a ball with their roles this time around, but it’s Luis (Michael Peña), Lang’s old prison buddy, who once again steals the show. Luis and Lang have teamed up with their other Episode One buddies, Kurt (David Dastlachian) and Dave (T.I.) to open a security firm called, “Ex-Cons.” Every Luis-onscreen-moment is a treasure of perfectly scripted and delivered humor. There’s no chance in Hades that it will happen, but I’m not joking when I say Peña deserves a Best Supporting Actor nom for this role.
Peyton Reed is back in the director’s chair after taking over for Edgar Wright on the first Ant-Man movie. Consider this: Reed got his start in television with The Weird Al Show and Mr. Show with Bob and David AND that his first directing gig was the cheerleading battle, Bring It On. More than a fair share of fans were upset that Marvel and Wright broke up over “creative differences,” but Reed proved he could handle the pressure with a smart first installment. This time around the confidence Reed has in the cast, the script, and himself is there in every frame. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a definite step up and should wipe away any thoughts of superhero movie fatigue.
There’s also this from Kevin Feige, the man charged with charting the overall course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the events in Ant-Man have a direct connection with 2019’s Avengers 4: What Happened After Thanos Snapped His Fingers. Theories abound as to what that connection is, but most agree that it has something to do with the Quantum Realm, a theory that the mid-credits stinger would seem to confirm.
Ant-Man and The Wasp opens in theaters on Thursday, July 5.