Marvel is at it again with a wild superhero ride. As they have done in the past dozen or so times, the ride was a success. As Infinity War was coming, my mom and I got prepared by watching the MCU. When we got to Ant-Man, it was the only one on our list that neither of us has ever seen. We had low expectations based on the character but were blown away by the hilarious experience. With excellent performances by Paul Rudd and Michael Pena along with its unique scale and style with its action, this was one of the most surprising movies in the MCU. Now we finally have a sequel to the 2015 film.
The sequel starts off by partially recapping the story of the first film. Some significant details are missing, so might as well watch the first. Most of the details surround Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who becomes the Wasp, along with her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and her mother whom is trapped in the quantum realm. Details show why Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) was not available during the attack that endured by Thanos, which is heavily linked to his actions in Civil War. After some catching up with the characters, the real story begins.
Scott turned away from being Ant-Man to focus on his family and making a career with his old group, Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (T.I.), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). After a vision from his time in the quantum realm, he calls Hank to inform him what he had just seen. Hank and Hope pull Scott with them in hopes to discover new information that might save Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfieffer). The only problem is that they need technology to build a tunnel into the quantum realm. Hope, Hank, and Scott go to a meeting with a black market dealer, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). As predicted, the meeting goes wrong, so Hope and Scott get their costumes on to fight their way through. A mysterious figure, Ghost (Hannah John-Karmen) appears to take away what they needed. Now the three of them must get that technology back to finish their project to potentially save Janet.
Its predecessor from 2015 was an enjoyable experience with witty writing and loveable characters, but there were flaws. The villain felt generic, and the story was a run-of-the-mill origin story. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, we get a more interesting story. Moments in the story are predictable or stretch the logic too far, but an overall improvement. A focus on the characters gives everyone more to develop as individuals and with their relationships.
Besides the already excellent cast of characters from the first film, my favorite being Luis, a few more characters are introduced. Sonny is a side villain who feels more like a distraction for our heroes. I felt disappointed since I love Walton Goggins, who would make a perfect main villain for the MCU. Now that he is in the MCU as a throwaway villain, we will never see him play a more prominent role. Despite that, he puts on a charismatic performance as he always does, you can never go wrong with his charisma. Then we see Hank’s old partner Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) who plays a bigger role than Sonny. His character has some complexity which is revealed by some of his choices and his words. However, he is not that fleshed out enough or given much to do to make him matter all that much. His relationships with his daughter Cassie (Abby Rider Fortson), her stepfather Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), and his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) are not that expanded upon. Cassie and her relationship with her father are sweet and remain to be healthy. While Paxton has grown to be a good friend of Scott’s, he is a lot more under utilized than the first movie. He gives a few hugs, funny moments, and support that does not carry weight. Maggie is used for only comedic purposes that make her look a lot dumber than the first film. The family moments are a nice touch with the daughter, but the mother and stepfather are worthless compared to the original Ant-Man. Ghost is a much better villain than Darren Cross from the first film. She is given much more interesting motivations and backstory that make her sympathetic. The MCU’s best villains are the ones the audience can see where they are coming from. She is not one of the best villains in the entire MCU, but she is not a part of the lower tier either.
The action is more enjoyable than the first film, which was already good. Nothing beats seeing cars turned into the size of Hot Wheels or a Pez dispenser turned into the size of a truck. The scale of the action varies with the size of our heroes. A deadly gunfight looks even more intense when our heroes are small while making everyday items match that intensity. The scale is everything to these characters, and it is utilized hilariously from beginning to end. The choreography is on par with other movies in the MCU. Wasp and Ant-Man have great chemistry when they are beating up thugs or the powerful Ghost. Growing and shrinking at the perfect times to help each other do not get old. Ghost brings her own style due to her powers of phasing through anything, which is fresh compared to the last film which felt like Ant-Man fighting someone who was an exact replica.
Ant-Man and the Wasp are much better than its predecessor. The story is much more interesting, despite some flaws. The ideas surrounding the story are more unique and less typical than the first film or any other film in the MCU. Characters are a hit or a miss. We get fantastic moments with Kurt, Luis, and Dave. They are still that support system that is mostly used for comedic reasons, but Scott’s main friend Luis does have a lot more weight to his character regarding his actions. Ghost is a much better and more sympathetic villain. She is technically the villain, but that does not mean she is necessarily the “bad guy” or I should say “bad woman” in the cast of characters. Sadly, some characters are horribly underutilized or even a waste of space. I was so happy to see Walton Goggins in the trailer but disappointed to see his character be used as a simple obstacle for Scott and Hope to hop right over. Despite the film’s issues, we got a much more improved film with some great characters, a fun story, hilarious writing, and some good action scenes. A typical MCU film that is not in the top tier of Avengers, but a great palate cleanser from Infinity War.
One final note, this is one movie that you will not want to miss the after credit scene. You will see why Scott will need to be involved with defeating Thanos. The first after credit scene is one of the best we have seen from the MCU. One final moment to give the film some added weight. Now we will wait for our small, and sometimes large heroes return in Avengers 4 next year.
Comparison to the first film’s score: 7/10
Image via Marvel Studios