There’s no denying that Avengers: Infinity War is the biggest and most packed film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with dozens of characters, both hero and villain, all vying to either save or destroy the universe. By its very nature it leaves you exhausted by the end. Following up the biggest release of 2018 so far is a daunting task, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is a welcoming palate cleanser for the MCU with more of a focus on comedy over action and a reminder that Marvel Studios is still more than capable of telling stories on the smaller scale, this time quite literally.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been placed on house arrest after making a deal with the government to no longer have any contact with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), or any other superhero in violation of the Sokovia Accords. While Scott has been enjoying spending time with his own daughter, Hank and Hope have been busy working on an experimental project that will get them to the Quantum Realm in the hopes of finding their wife/mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has been lost there every since going subatomic decades ago during a mission with Hank. Their project has attracted some unwanted attention, however, as both black market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and a mysterious figure named Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who is capable of phasing through objects are after their quantum technology. Scott inadvertently becomes entangled with their experiment having briefly traveled to the Quantum Realm himself, and the key to finding Janet may lie within his head.
Half of the entire universe may be hanging in the balance but Ant-Man and the Wasp’s focus is on family. Scott has been struggling to put the Ant-Man persona behind him in order to spend more time with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Already on house arrest, If he’s caught again by the government he’ll automatically be sent to jail for over 20 years. Most movies of the MCU, with the exception of Civil War, never really address the ramifications or fallout of being a superhero on a personal level. Scott is not Captain America or Iron Man or any of the other Avengers. He’s just a guy who happened to find a super-powered suit one night and is constantly torn between his duties as both a superhero and a father. Throughout the film he’s always on edge saying how he should be back at home because he could be arrested at any point. Even though his name is first, Ant-Man is riding in the passenger’s seat this time around.
The real driver behind the film is Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne aka the Wasp who finally has a suit of her own that is far more advanced than what Scott had. She and Hank are doing everything they can in order to figure out how to get to the Quantum Realm and find her mother, even if that means taking on shaddy black market deals with Sonny Burch. Hope is more than capable of taking care of herself and is oftentimes the one taking the lead whenever things get dangerous.
As cool as the titular characters are, I was entertained the most by the secondary characters, particularly Michael Peña’s fast talking Luis. He was the highlight of the original Ant-Man and does so again when it comes to Ant-Man and the Wasp. Every line of his dialogue is hilarious and one scene involving what may or may not be truth serum is downright one of the best scenes in any Marvel movie, period. After Ant-Man I, along with many other fans, hoped for more Luis, and the sequel definitely delivers!
Where Ant-Man and the Wasp stutters is with its story. There’s simply too much going on at once and the narrative can’t juggle everything at once. Having two villains going after Hank’s quantum technology is a little much, especially since Sonny Burch is just your average run of the mill criminal who often just gets in the way of the much badder and more interesting Ghost. It’s simply a waste of Walton Goggins, and the film could have been much better exploring more of Ghost’s character instead of dividing time between the two.
Despite its somewhat bloated story, Ant-Man and the Wasp injects some much needed humor into the MCU. It’s a comedy first and foremost and then an action film whereas with most other Marvel Studios films it’s the other way around. It might not feel as big as the other films of the franchise, but as you’ll see by the end, it’s just as important.