Ant-Man and the Wasp retains much of the quirky, down-to-earth charm of the first movie; but because of its placing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, the film—scale-wise—leaves much to be desired.
On its own, Ant-Man and the Wasp makes for a fantastic Marvel movie—with the action and the humor and the perfectly timed comedic beats pulled off flawlessly by the witty genius of Paul Rudd—and it might have been perfectly acceptable if the fate of the entire galaxy wasn’t at stake in the current MCU timeline.
Back then, a Marvel superhero’s biggest concern could be keeping an identity secret or trying to foil overachieving board members. Everything was lighter, simpler. But unfortunately, now that all the Marvel movies have progressed to this point, audiences simply can’t be expected to revert their mindsets back pre-Infinity War. Now, everyone’s waiting to find answers—or at the very least, some semblance of peace—because of the heart-shattering events from the last Marvel movie, and sadly, Ant-Man and the Wasp offers nothing of the sort.
Set two years after Captain America: Civil War, the movie zeroes in on Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) life as he spends his days in house arrest. This is due to the fact that he violated the Sokovia Accords by helping out Captain America during the events of Civil War, so his biggest concern at the moment is to convince FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) that he’s behaving nicely inside his San Francisco apartment. It all goes down the drain when Hope (Evangeline Lilly, who kicks some serious ass, by the way) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) drag him out of hiding to help them find the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) inside the quantum realm.
After a variety of antics and hijinks, our heroes soon find themselves being chased down by other players in the field, namely, Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost, Laurence Fishburne’s Bill Foster, and Walter Goggins’ Sonny Burch—all wanting a piece of the proverbial pie (in this case, the pie being Hank Pym’s super-shrinking lab).
Plenty of things go wrong and plenty of things go right, too—the stellar performances of Scott’s “partners-in-crime” Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, and T.I. included. Randall Park as FBI agent Woo shines in this one with his awkward banter and his penchant for and frustration with close-up magic tricks. Even Michael Peña’s iconic “storytelling” makes a welcome comeback here as well, with hilarious encounters with a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser and a Hot Wheels canister.
Admittedly, Ant-Man and the Wasp is fun and entertaining, as it doesn’t take itself very seriously, and some might feel that it’s a breath of fresh air. There are a lot of comic book elements that are a joy to watch, like the breathtaking small-and-big-and-small-again fight sequences and millions of ants forming Google Maps-like arrows in the air.
Paul Rudd’s boyish charm might even make the forgettable narrative forgivable, and even though the stakes are low, the warmth and emotional connection between family and friends is incredibly high. I particularly reveled in the emotional resonance of Scott playing in a makeshift cardboard funhouse with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).
It’s all well and good, but with the looming threat of the galaxy’s total annihilation lurking there in the back of my mind, I can’t help but feel like the light-heartedness of this film is, well, too light-hearted. There’s a lot of scientific quantum mumbo-jumbo thrown in there somewhere, but I just find it really hard to care for their circumstances when I still haven’t gotten over the finger-snapping of a certain Mad Titan (is it just me?).
Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a wonderful movie, if only it were set in a timeline that doesn’t immediately follow Infinity War. It might be a tad unfair to judge the whole movie based solely on its place in the MCU, but that’s the reality of the release dates, and it really is quite unfortunate. Come for the laugh-out-loud moments, though—there is no shortage of those—and stay for two post-credits scenes afterward.
Ant-Man and the Wasp comes out in theaters on July 6, 2018 nationwide.