Written By: Mark Armstrong
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Director: Peyton Reed
Producers: Kevin Feige and Stephen Broussard
Scriptwriters: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Main Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas
Released: July 6 2018
Running Time: 118 Minutes
The follow-up to the 2015 movie Ant-Man, and the twentieth offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Ant-Man And The Wasp builds upon the Ant-Man character established in the previous film, as well as providing new faces to create conflict, all while incorporating some strong humour and nice nods to other Marvel franchises.
After a dramatic opening scene set in 1987, where we see Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) – as the original Ant-Man and the original Wasp – travel to the quantum realm and create an opening only for Janet to be trapped inside, we return to the present day, and we reconnect with the main character, Ant-Man himself, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Due to his actions being deemed as reckless and illegal in the past (which in itself is humorous, because few people logically consider the chaos that superheroes cause even while saving the world; to quote an episode of Family Guy, “you think that people just forgot about that?”), Lang is coming towards the end of a two-year period of house arrest, and with his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) by his side, Scott seems happy to ride out the storm, so to speak.
However, things take an unexpected turn when he seemingly receives a message within his mind from Janet, still trapped in the quantum layer but having survived the many years of her entrapment. Scott leaves a voicemail to his old friend Hank, though he quickly hesitates and does not go into detail about the images that have just entered his head. But it’s still enough to trigger a sudden capture by Hank’s daughter Hope Van Pym (Evangeline Lilly), both of whom believe that Janet is still alive and quickly realise that Scott might hold the keys to her being saved. How do they get around him being under house arrest? By providing a decoy creature to wear his electronic tag, making the authorities believe that he is still at home, whilst shrinking Scott and such surroundings as their van and even their laboratory to a miniscule size. Because Hope is now able to shrink to the size and capabilities of a wasp (established in the previous film), it allows the two to move around without anybody really noticing, at least when they are at their smallest.
And that is important because, while they are forging a plan to save Janet (and with a limited amount of time available to do so), they encounter some enemies. Their only hope (no pun intended) is to buy an integral part of the system from black market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a shady character who has a team of assailants helping him to pull off the sweetest deal possible (he wants the lab, and for literally no cost; because of the building being shrunk, such a plan is entirely feasible), and this leads to several confrontations between our heroes and these villains. But the real snag comes from Ava Starr (Hannah John-Kamen), seemingly a Ghost with equivalent powers that we learn were the result of a quantum realm malfunction that left both of her parents dead. Helping Ava is a former partner of Hank’s, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), who discovered Ava at a young age and has done more to help her since she lost her parents than anybody.
The reason why she is such a thorn in the side of Scott, Hope and Hank is that she plans to use the quantum energy that she already has and, with Bill’s help, find a cure by entering the quantum realm herself, something that can only be achieved by using the lab in the possession of the Pyms. From there, it becomes a case of who can maintain control of the lab and, as a result, the only direct entry towards the quantum realm, as well as us wondering whether Janet (who has mere hours to be saved) and Ava (whose life span is days away from expiring under her present state) can be rescued from their predicaments. In the meantime, how can Scott avoid being caught out by the FBI as he aims to use his special powers to look after Hank and Hope and give them the best possible chance of succeeding in their plan, years if not decades in the making? Adding to the excitement is the fact that Hope now has powers equally as strong as those of Scott, if not superior; as Scott asks Hank, “you gave her wings?”
The plot is a little difficult to understand if you’re new to the Marvel universe (Scott even asks “Do you guys just put ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” in a humorous in-joke), but it’s clear to establish who the good guys and the bad guys are, as well as realising the jeopardy that Janet and, to a lesser extent (because she is a less sympathetic character) Ava are in. There are plenty of high-octane action scenes with tons of special effects, impactful blows and seemingly miraculous escapes from moments of peril, enhanced by the powers that make Scott and Hope seem like real bad-asses. I personally really enjoyed the running humour throughout the movie, even during some of the more emotional or violent scenes; at one point, Scott and co. are in real trouble, only for him to receive an “emergency” FaceTime call from Cassie where she is asking about the whereabouts of her soccer shoes. Also adding to the humour are the side-characters, most notably Luis (Michael Peña) who, whilst given a smaller presence compared to the original movie, still has some moments to shine, and is arguably responsible for the movie’s funniest moments.
As one would expect, this movie has been intricately written, not only to provide logic and flow for the film under scrutiny but also to tie in with the previous film and also other Marvel movies. No stone is left unturned to keep things consistent while also remaining open enough to leave Marvel fanatics with some intriguing questions to ponder (for instance, we know that Janet became trapped in the quantum realm in 1987, but we don’t know what the date of the present goings-on is, which matters in accordance with other Marvel stories). There are nice nods to previous movies, and without spoiling anything, those who watched the blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War (read our review of that movie by clicking here) will get a nice surprise when watching this. All of the characters are believable and pull off their roles extremely well, with Evangeline Lilly probably leaving the biggest lasting impression as The Wasp, a role that I believe will be expanded upon even further in the future. And as if often the case with Marvel movies, it’s always worth sticking around until the very end, because by missing the credits, you may miss something rather important. Interestingly enough, considering the name implying that the main focus seemingly being on Ant-Man, one may come away with the feeling that he has taken a back seat in this film; sure, his narrative is central to what happens, but it’s far from a one-person spotlight, especially compared to the original film from 2015.
It would be easy for Ant-Man And The Wasp to feel secondary and/or be overshadowed by Avengers: Infinity War, but as a standalone movie, it’s a real treat and is strong enough to stand out from the competition. Perhaps a shade inferior to the first Ant-Man movie, it is nevertheless a rollercoaster ride perfectly blending action, drama and humour with the wacky goings-on and the real character depth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’re new to Marvel, this is a good starting point to understand that ever-increasing world, but if you’re someone who has been following each of the MCU movies, you’ll love Ant-Man And The Wasp.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent