It’s been a couple of years since we last saw Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang suit up as Ant-Man as he came out to fight for Captain America in 2016’s Civil War with his absence being particularly noted in Infinity War earlier this year, and now we find out why. In the two years since he joined the fight he has been living under house arrest, and having no contact with Hank Pym or Hope van Dyne in order to avoid going back to jail.
Whilst we see Scott spending time with his daughter and setting up a security business with the always hilarious Luis, Michael Peña, we find out that Hank and Hope have been trying to find Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp after Scott proved it was possible to return from the quantum realm during the first film. After the serious political and social commentary from Black Panther and the emotional spectacle that was Infinity War this year it was nice to have a little palate cleanser in this world as Scott gets dragged back in for more hijinks as Marvel provide a nice fun comedy caper.
The antagonists for the film are Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch, a criminal who wants to profit off Hank’s research into the quantum realm, and Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost, someone with the power to phase through objects, although Burch isn’t much more than a criminal with a couple of henchmen and Ghost is portrayed more as a sympathetic character, leaving the film without a true villain in the traditional Marvel sense.
And that really speaks to what director Payton Reed wanted from the film, this isn’t meant as a heavy hero fighting villain story, but instead is a fast paced, most comedic, ride which is built on great character interaction. The film’s less interesting moments are actually when it tries to have some emotional resonance, and gets away from the sharp, snappy comedy.
Paul Rudd is obviously a great comic actor, but his rapport with Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michael Peña has gotten even stronger since the last film, and the back and forth between these characters is outstanding. We also get to see more from Douglas, as he’s less of a back seat player in this film, getting more involved in their mission this time, not just sitting in the van.
It’s a little bit of a shame that for the second time this year Walton Goggins feels a little wasted as a one dimensional and generic villain, but it was good to see other supporting cast members like Randall Park as FBI Agent Woo, T.I. and David Dastmalchian as Scott and Luis’ partners, Laurence Fishburn as Hank’s old partner, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet get their moments to shine.
The special effect are also fantastic. Reed really dials up the amount of shrinking and growing, and in more interesting ways, and the visual effects guys do an excellent job of bringing it to life. We saw hints of the way Reed played with scale in the first film with the Thomas the Tank Engine moment, and there’s even more of that on display in this sequel.
Ant-Man and the Wasp falls nicely into that category of a perfectly fine installment of the MCU. There nothing here to elevate it to the standard of some of the best stand alone entries into the MCU, like Black Panther or Thor Ragnarok, but it is a nice breezy, summer film. The jokes come thick and fast, and thanks to excellent lead performances they mostly land. If you’re all about the overarching story of the MCU then Ant-man and the Wasp may leave you feeling a little disappointed, but if you want a good time with a solo adventure then you’ll probably get that.