In an ideal world, this movie would have been called The Wasp And Ant-Man. That’s because Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne a.k.a. The Wasp runs away, or rather, flies away with this movie, leaving Paul Rudd’s Scott “Ant-Man” Lang in her tracks.
Ant-Man And The Wasp is set two years after Ant-Man’s last appearance in Captain America: Civil War, in which he joined Captain America’s team to do battle against Iron Man’s. Since then, Scott has been under house arrest, having been arrested for aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive (that’s Captain America, by the way).
In the meantime, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is busy building a quantum tunnel in an attempt to save his wife (and Hope’s mother), Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) who shrunk to sub-atomic size during a mission and was presumed dead. After Scott did the same and survived entering the quantum realm in the first Ant-Man, Hank now believes that Janet could still be alive there. And as luck would have it, Scott might just be the key to finding her.
There’s no need to get antsy about it – after the immense spectacle of this year’s MCU movies Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man And The Wasp does feel like a bit of a come down. Not that it’s a bad thing though. The first Ant-Man was a quirky breath of fresh air in the increasingly overblown (but still hugely entertaining) Marvel Cinematic Universe, and likewise, this movie offers a light-hearted respite from the sombreness that had enveloped the MCU after the devastating universe-ending finale of Infinity War.
As mentioned, Ant-Man may have top billing, but The Wasp is the biggest star here. She offers a masterclass in how to use size-manipulating powers in a fight, combining tech advantage with martial arts expertise, a pair of wings and blasters to create a fighting style that far surpasses Ant-Man’s clumsy efforts. Watching Wasp in action is like watching beautifully-choreographed flying/shrinking kung fu … or ‘shrink fu’, to quote Janet Van Dyne in the comics.
The tough, straight-talking Lilly is also the perfect foil to Rudd’s bumbling superhero act. Scott may get most of the laughs courtesy of his ineptness and relationship with the fast-talking Luis (Michael Pena), but Hope gets the job done each and every time. She is another worthy addition to the increasing number of strong female characters in the MCU, alongside the women of Black Panther, Black Widow, Gamora and the incoming Captain Marvel. (Speaking of which, next year’s Captain Marvel movie may be the first solo female superhero movie in the MCU, but Wasp is the first female superhero to be in the title of a movie.)
Ably supporting the leading duo is a cast of veteran heavyweights – the cranky but endearing Douglas, the eternally-watchable Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster, whose name comic fans will recognise as the alter-ego of superhero Goliath.
It’s just too bad that Ant-Man And The Wasp’s villains fall back into the crevice of weak MCU antagonists though, especially so soon after the success of Black Panther’s multi-layered Kilmonger and Infinity War’s indomitable Thanos. Like her character’s powers, Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost fades in and out of the story without making much of an impact, while Walton Goggins’ greedy black market crime boss seems to have been thrown in more as an excuse to kickstart some of the film’s setpieces.
Still, what setpieces those turned out to be. Apart from Wasp’s shrink-fu scenes, there’s also a thrilling car chase through San Francisco that incorporates size gags at every turn.
The Ant-Man movies may seem lightweight compared to the rest of the MCU’s output, but it’s also a testament that not all superhero movie has to be an overblown epic with lots of explosions. Taking place in the space of three days and with a pretty much self-contained story unburdened by what’s happening within the rest of the shared universe, Ant-Man And The Wasp is a light-hearted action-comedy that also acts as a cheerful antidote to help us deal with the depressing heartache of Infinity War.
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Ant-Man And The Wasp
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins and Hannah John-Kamen.
Director: Peyton Reed