Ant-Man and the Wasp is a refreshingly light piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A fun romp that was needed after the reverence of Black Panther and the finality of Avengers: Infinity War. It features excellent performances and hilarious jokes. It’s also strengthened by continuing to lean into the heist genre. Instead of breaking in somewhere, the heroes find themselves in an intense game of keep away with a major ticking clock and the plot is serviceable within that framework. I really appreciated that one of the biggest sight gags (Hank shrinking his office into a rolling suitcase) was so relevant to the story and wasn’t just a throwaway concept. The main villain is interesting, but at times feels a little too much like the standard forgettable MCU fodder. The main star is the use of size-manipulation, both for comedic and awe-inspiring effect.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd): Scott is back in excellent form after his noticeable absence from the MCU. He continues to be one of the hearts of this universe, showcasing a realistic man who’s allowed to screw up and to experience emotion. Rudd brings this humanity to the front with his conflicting obligations to his daughter and his Ant Family. It doesn’t hurt that he’s genuinely hilarious and puts off that perfect “everyman” persona. Scott has grown from his experiences in the MCU so far and Rudd has become so comfortable in his shoes.
Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly): Hope is the character who experienced the most growth between the sequels. She was the one I was most excited to see and she did not disappoint. The Wasp is a stand-out in this film, acting as the competent, kick-ass straight man to Lang’s bumbling everyman. Everytime she was on screen, Lilly commanded respect and seemed like a coiled spring ready to lash out. Her fight choreography, mixed with her command of the size-changing tech made me adore the Wasp in a way the comics never have. The fact that she was also allowed to be vulnerable and human, without falling into the “strong women don’t have feelings” pitfall, just elevated her to the next level.
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas): I was so happy they expanded Hank’s role in this story. Michael Douglas was excellent as the brooding, reclusive genius in the first film, but it was nice to see him take a more active role. I’m a sucker for a grumpy old man, but Hank Pym was more than that. He had great comedic timing, but also delivered some excellent emotional notes. I believed that he was full of regrets and real love for his family (and Scott). Seeing him as a vital part of the final mission (in his own suit no less) was a fist-pumping moment. I agree with Michael Douglas. I’d see a Hank Pym prequel movie.
Ava Starr/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen): Ghost is an unsettling presence in this film that borders on terrifying, but never quite crosses that line. Her powers of intangibility are visually striking, but I don’t think are used to their full potential. Ava does have a compelling backstory and a good reason to hate Hank Pym (I still think Tony got the better trade in the villain swap between Ghost and Ultron.) I appreciate the pathos John-Kamen brings to her performance. Her condition feels like it could be a stand-in for any number of painful diseases, which adds a layer of severity to her actions. I do appreciate that, while she has truly profane ideas at some points in the film, she never acts on them and maintains her humanity.
All in all this movie ticked a lot of the Marvel boxes for me. It was fun, the chemistry between the characters was off the charts, and it built the franchise instead of resting on its laurels. One thing that the Ant-Man films do so well is redefine some of Marvel’s weaker (or downright vile in Hank Pym’s case) characters. The Ant Family is one of my favorite offshoots of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I cannot wait to see how this movie ties into the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. I give Ant-Man and the Wasp a B+.