It was always going to be difficult to follow the colossal success of Infinity War, it was probably a wise decision to make somewhat of a ‘palate cleanser’ between Infinity War and next year’s Captain Marvel.
The success of 2015’s Ant-Man was somewhat of a surprise to the layman, a film based around a somewhat unknown superhero like Ant-Man straight after Age of Ultron (somewhat of a recurring theme here, I see) was a risk, but like Guardians of the Galaxy before it, turned out to be a surprise package with a likeable leading man and entertaining peripheral characters. With Ant-Man established and his absence in Infinity War unexplained leaves a gap for this film to slot in nicely, and tell its own story separate from the larger timeline, with perhaps not as much pressure.
After helping Captain America during Civil War, Scott Lang struck a plea deal and is under house arrest, separated from Hank Pym and Hope, he adjusts from day to day life away from superhero duty, when a message from the quantum realm drags Scott back into action once more.
As stated in the opening paragraph of this review, Ant-Man and the Wasp serves as a palate cleanser between two massive releases in the MCU and in that regard it’s a particularly entertaining palate cleanser.
I was as surprised as anyone about the quality of the first Ant-Man film, as the character sounds absurd on paper, so my expectations were to see more of the same here and that’s exactly what I got, it takes what it established 3 years ago and expands upon them. I also particularly liked how Scott’s absence in Infinity War is explained here and tied neatly into the ongoing narrative of the MCU.
One of this films greatest strengths, and one of the first films also, is Paul Rudd himself, he’s so innately likeable that the idea of an Ant-Man doesn’t seem quite so absurd, he also shares good chemistry with Evangeline Lily, the ‘Wasp’ half of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ team-up. Michael Douglas gets more time to flesh out the character of Hank Pym in this instalment too, while he was certainly a presence last time out, he felt underdeveloped, something that is fixed in this film.
Elsewhere in the cast Michael Pena is a highlight once more as Luis, however, he doesn’t get as much chance to monologue as last time, the character feels more contained, yet restricted, which isn’t to say he doesn’t have highlights as he can always be relied on for some much needed levity and humour.
Speaking of characters, we come to one of my criticisms about this film, and it revolves around the ‘villain’ of the film (Ghost). If you break it down, she isn’t particularly a ‘villain’ so to speak as her motivations are quite understandable, and things could have been resolved much easier had the characters just talked, rather than chase each other round the city and fight, granted there wouldn’t have been much of a film otherwise, but following two stand-out villains really shines a more negative light on the character. She also doesn’t really get the chance to flesh out the character, and parts of her backstory and motivation borrows heavily from other MCU villains, so the chance to make her relatable is lost. The actress playing her though (Hannah John-Kamen) does her best with the material and is one to watch for the future.
While the movie is nowhere near the best of the MCU, it struggles with balance issues and only really serves to bridge a narrative gap between two bigger releases, it’s a light and entertaining watch, particularly praise-worthy being the few scenes we get in the quantum realm, they’re visually striking and at times, breathtaking. Unfortunately this aspect of the story takes a back seat for the usual superhero fare (car chases and fights) which is a shame as that’s a part of the story that’s most emotionally, and creatively, gratifying, seeing as how Hank aims to enter the quantum realm in search of his wife, this gets sidetracked into the plot of Ghost wanting Hank’s technology and the plot unfolds from there.
All that being said, if you were entertained by Ant-Man, I’m fairly certain you’ll enjoy this too, it’s just the filler we needed after the big blowout that was Infinity War, and leaves us in a nice place to carry on from in next year’s Avenger’s sequel. It’s nothing mind-blowing and it takes no risks, but it didn’t really need too and it’s still fun while it lasts.