It’s a nice and even important reminder that it’s important for comic book movies to occasionally be, you know…comedic?
Ant-Man and The Wasp serves as a delightful change in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that allows us to forget about the destruction of worlds and high drama from previous installments to shift back to a fun romp filled caper that doesn’t necessarily have any overly angst filled personal stakes.
In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from the past.
This really is one of those rare cases where we actually get an improvement from the sequel as Ant-Man and The Wasp has a certain ‘joie de vivre’ to it that serves as a refreshing change to the usual tone of the MCU and gets us back to the spirit of the comics with a high speed, action romp with a couple of well earned laughs along the way.
Director Peyton Reed really does have a sense of the material and improves upon the foundation that was built in the first film. Everything that happens around these characters really seems effortless and that allows for a genuine sense of charm to come out. There’s a playful intimacy between the characters that we don’t often get in the MCU and Reed along with the writing team are very careful to make sure that while these characters exist alongside the heavy hitters in the Avengers that we know and love, they don’t have to bear nearly as much reasonability or emotional gravity as they do. You’d almost hope that one day Iron Man or Thor could get to team up with Ant-Man one day, because for them it would be a working vacation.
Reed, who didn’t necessarily have a lot of experience staging acting before getting on the Marvel rollercoaster, has made some markable jumps here with the sequel as the action set pieces look even better in this installment and also do a better job of capture the element of fun that is so vibrant inside all of these characters.
Lilly & Rudd actually make for an on screen duo that’s akin to the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall with an understated chemistry between them both that goes for miles on screen, and while it’s Evangeline Lilly who really does end up shining this time out, both do quite well with one another as they elevate and carry each other through the narrative. Michael Douglas returns as the irascible and cranky Hank Pym while we get the usual colorful work from returning players like Bonny Cannavale, Judy Greer, Michael Pena, T.I. and Abby Ryder Fortson while new players like the consistently underrated Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne & Randall Park make for fun additions to the cast. Only Hannah John Kamen as one of their adversaries ‘Ghost” was a little disappointing, it’s not her fault but it would have been nice to have seen the character have a little more depth to it as it just felt underwritten.
When all is said and done, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a delightful tonic to settle us down during our journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it just has fun with itself while still reminding us (ever so slightly) of the big things that are still yet to come.