Ant-Man and the Wasp is the twentieth film in the MCU and the cast from Ant-Man (2015) return with added cast members such as Laurence Fishburne (Dr. Bill Foster), Hannah John-Kamen (Ava/Ghost), Walton Goggins (Sonny Burch), Randall Park (Jimmy Woo) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet Van Dyne). Peyton Reed is back directing from the first Ant-Man and the humour and tone of the film feels similar to the first instalment. While I overall enjoyed the film, I do prefer the novelty of the first one.
After the epic scale of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp has a much needed lighter tone, with lower stakes, to serve as a breather from the spectacle that was Infinity War. Yet, the film is rooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with call-backs to Captain America: Civil War (2016), such that this film picks up with Scott under house arrest as a consequence of his involvement in those events. Added to this, the mid-credit scene fits marvellously into the events of Avengers: Infinity War and made me even more eager for the future of the MCU, with Avengers 4 coming in 2019.
One of the things that made Ant-Man stand out when it was released in 2015, was the fact that Scott Lang as the protagonist felt relatable and average. He wasn’t presented as a ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’ (as with Tony Stark), nor a morally virtuous patriotic super solider (Captain America) or god (Thor). Instead Lang felt grounded, had just come out of jail and was depicted as a loving, devoted father. This continues in the sequel, as one of the central themes is the bond between parent and child. Scott Lang’s relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) is vital to understanding his character, just as it is for the character of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and other familial situations. There is an impressive CGI flashback scene with a de-aged Hank and Janet to further draw the audience into these family dynamics, which I think is done effectively.
Yet, one aspect the film struggled with slightly was the villain, as there are a few antagonists juggled throughout the film, and thus none of them get to encompass the role of the fully realised baddie. In the instance of Ghost her motivation feels understandable, and her volatility plausible. While, Walton Goggins’ character Sonny Burch, is unfortunately the archetypal greed enticed crook, who lacks any depth. However, it is obvious that Reed was not trying to create a usual villain scenario, instead creating multiple threads to operate within the story. In addition, the plot is such that most of the characters are desirous of the same object, so the film becomes one of continuous pursuit and fleeing.
Certain plot points progress at the expense of Scott Lang’s character, who is dumbed down. This takes away from the film slightly, as Lang’s characterisation changes to suit the story, and in one instance in particular his character is shown as making a senseless decision that has obvious negative implications. While these moments did take me out of the film, they luckily only occurred on a few instances and other than these scenes Lang was still a fun presence on screen. Evangeline Lilly embodied her role as Hope Van Dyne well, and it felt like a seamless continuation from the last Ant-Man film. She is confident and fully capable, more so than Lang, of getting things done. Some of the humour did not feel as fresh as that of the first film, but Michael Peña (Luis) again brought a lot of charisma and hilarity to the film, and shines in the ensemble.
Ant-Man and the Wasp makes for a pleasant watch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are things I would change about the film, and I preferred the story of the first Ant-Man more, but overall it is an entertaining summer film that fits in nicely with the larger tapestry of the MCU.