For a lifelong Ant-Man fan like me, the release of a new Ant-Man movie is just about as close as I get to my home team being in the Super Bowl. So naturally, going into Ant-Man and the Wasp, expectations were high.
I’m pleased to report that those expectations were met, and then some. Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man and the Wasp is a smart, funny comedy-action flick that hits the ground running and keeps moving at a brisk pace, with crisply executed action sequences and all the laughs and heart that made the first Ant-Man film such a pleasant surprise.
It has to be admitted as well that Ant-Man and the Wasp benefits from its release schedule, as after all the heavy gravitas and tragedy of Avengers: Infinity War, a light superhero farce with a lot of heart feels like just what the doctor ordered. It’s like the Ant-Man films are the palate-cleansers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Compared to the galaxy-spanning scope of Infinity War, this film’s plot is sweet and to the point: Hank Pym and his daughter Hope think Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, may still be alive in the mysterious interdimensional Quantum Realm, and they need the assistance of Scott Lang to rescue her, but Scott’s only days away from finishing out his house arrest sentence following his misadventures in Germany during Civil War. Add in the mysterious ephemeral thief the Ghost and a low-rent arms/tech dealer hilariously played by Walton Goggins, and Scott, Hank and Hope have plenty to contend with.
Evangeline Lilly really steals the show here, jumping into the role of superhero with gusto, such that I can’t tell if it’s the character who’s enjoying being center stage or the actress herself. And after the character was so dour for most of the first film, seeing her much more vital and engaged here is a real treat. Paul Rudd remains the heart of the film, funny as ever, and his scenes with Abby Ryder Fortson as Scott’s daughter Cassie anchor what turns out to be a surprisingly emotional film. Also a standout is Michael Douglas as original Ant-Man Hank Pym, who gets much more involved in the action this time around, and the introduction of Michelle Pfeiffer as Hank’s wife Janet, the long-lost original Wasp, who shines in her limited screen time.
Also very enjoyable was Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster, Hank’s estranged former research partner, who has much more to do here than he ever did as Perry White over in the DC films. Sadly, we don’t get to see Fishburne suit up as Black Goliath, but the character’s past dabbling in changing size is mentioned. There are quite a few nods to Ant-Man’s comic-book history throughout the film, including a surprising blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo appearance by one of Hank Pym’s oldest enemies. Hannah John-Kamen is most effective as main bad guy the Ghost, giving the character a sense of tragedy and pain that was never evident in the comics.
Don’t worry too much about where this film fits in the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline: all will be revealed in time. Just go and see a really well-executed superhero movie, and see it in IMAX if you can, as the scenes in the Quantum Realm look amazing on the big big screen.
Oh, and make sure you stay past the credits.