Review: Marvel's 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is Big Fun in a Small Package

July 5, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Marvel Comics first introduced the character of Ant-Man in 1962 with the publication of Tales to Astonish #27. The insect-controlling, half-inch hero later appeared in Avengers #1 alongside his partner-in-crime, the Wasp, as founding members of the team. It wasn't until 2015, however, that the iconic duo made their big screen debut in director Peyton Reed's heist comedy, Ant-Man. Well, sort of. In the movie, the original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), resurrects the hero and handpicks good-natured thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to don the suit. Pym's daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is set to become the Wasp by the movie's end, but we never actually see her in action. Enter Ant-Man and the Wasp, the twentieth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), once again directed by Peyton Reed.

After his exploits with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, ex-con Scott Lang finds himself under house arrest — for two years. When faced with the decision to become Ant-Man again, Scott is conflicted, as he is struggling to get his home-life back on track and be the best possible father to Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) that he can be. As for Hank and Hope, the father-daughter team are fugitives on the run. Hope has used her time in hiding to master her new role as the Wasp, utilizing a shrink-suit with insectoid wings and wrist gauntlets that fire bio-electric energy blasts. Hank Pym, meanwhile, is busy in his state-of-the-art mobile lab, creating technology that will allow him to search for his long-lost wife, the original Wasp Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), in the Quantum Realm — a subatomic world beyond our own.

Standing in the way of Hank's on-going mission is Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a genteel but menacing gangster who dabbles in black-market tech with his sights on acquiring Hank's latest invention. Throwing an additional wrench into the works is the appearance of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen of Ready Player One), an elusive foe whose molecular makeup is forever altered after she is exposed to the subatomic physics of the Quantum Realm. As a result, Ghost can phase through matter, making her an unstable and intangible threat. Desperate to gain control over her abilities, Ghost is in search of a device that can stabilize her physical form and take away her pain, which puts her in direct conflict with the Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review

With the first Ant-Man movie, there was a lot that had to be set up for audiences to invest in the story, like the mythology of the original Ant-Man and Wasp, and how their suits work via "Pym Particles" — subatomic particles that can radically shrink or enlarge objects. It also had to set up Scott Lang as a lovable ex-con and introduce Hope Van Dyne as the new Wasp. The movie had to establish even more out-there concepts like Ant-Man's command over ants and the surreal, subatomic Quantum Realm. The film also had to connect directly to the MCU, with cameos by S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers Headquarters, and Anthony Mackie's Falcon. It's a lot to ask of an audience, even one as committed as Marvel's.

Still, despite switching out creative teams early in production — director Edgar Wright and co-writer Joe Cornish originally left the project in 2014 citing creative differences — the movie works surprisingly well, carried by a charming performance from Rudd and some inventive action set pieces that take full advantage of the hero's unique skill set. With Ant-Man and the Wasp, however, Reed and his gaggle of screenwriters, comprised of Paul Rudd and two different writing teams — Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari of Haunt — don't have to spend valuable story time on establishing the world. They're able to hit the ground running and focus on developing the characters, building on the prevailing theme of family that was so integral to the first film's success.

The film's title is more than appropriate as this isn't a solo effort but a two-hander between Hope and Scott. In the first film, it was clear that Hope was more capable than Scott was at being a superhero, but her father, because of the loss of her mother, didn’t want her to take the risk. Now we get to see Hope embrace her inner badass as the Wasp, which changes the team dynamic completely. Evangeline Lilly is just fantastic in this role, effortlessly delivering on both sides of the action-comedy formula. She's able to exude charm, confidence, vulnerability, and emotion, making for an incredibly well-rounded and likable character that I cannot wait to see more of in 2019's Avengers: Infinity War follow-up. Likewise, Rudd makes an excellent Ant-Man, playing Scott as someone you care about; someone that when he messes up or does the wrong thing, you empathize with him, but you also can’t help but want to see him pulled back into the role of the hero. There's real chemistry between the two that makes seeing them act as a unified team all the more satisfying.

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review

The supporting cast is equally impressive. Scenes with Douglas and Pfeiffer are laced with affection and warmth, while the welcome return of the X-Con Security crew — Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris), Kurt (David Dastmalchian) — provide some of the movie's biggest laughs. I also quite enjoyed Goggins' southern gentlemen gangster and John-Kamen's volatile assassin. It's refreshing to take a step back from the massive scope of something like Infinity War and experience a superhero story with smaller, more intimate stakes, and I like that the villains in this story are just as unconventional as the heroes. Other additions to the ensemble include Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster, a former colleague of Hank and Janet's who becomes part of Hank's plan to reunite his family, and Randal Park as Jimmy Woo, the FBI agent charged with monitoring Scott to make sure he stays under house arrest. The interplay between Park and Rudd is so much fun, and I really hope this character continues to pop up in subsequent MCU outings.

This movie also has some of my favorite action set pieces in all the MCU. Stunt coordinator George Cottle (Inception, Spider-Man: Homecoming) knows how to choreograph a myriad of complex, size-shifting fight scenes, including a kick-ass sequence reminiscent of the epic kitchen fight in The Raid 2, in which Wasp singlehandedly takes out dozens of Burch's thugs without breaking a sweat. Lilly brings a lot of physicality to the role, it's clear she's fully committed to the cause. There's also a crazy car chase through the winding streets of San Francisco, where Luis is in a Hot Wheels-sized Hyundai Veloster being chased and shot at by an SUV filled with bad guys. All the action scenes are exciting because they're so unique – you won't see these kinds of set pieces in other movies because they're so specific to these characters and their powers.

After Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War earlier this year, Ant-Man and the Wasp completes Marvel Studios' hat-trick for 2018. The stakes may be shrunk down, but the entertainment value is huge. After the devastating events of Infinity War, Reed's action-comedy works as a much-needed palate cleanser for the MCU, delivering fast-paced action and family-friendly fun, with charming performances and spectacular special effects. And that mid-credits scene? It's one of the absolute best. The movies of 2019 and the slate of Marvel Studios offerings can't come soon enough.

Adam's Rating: 4 out of 5
Follow Adam on Twitter - @AdamFrazier

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Solid Review. I loved it. Can't wait for Captain Marvel.

tyban81 on Jul 5, 2018


Sounds like a classic sequel. Maybe perfect? Gonna be awhile until it gets a release here though. // Thanks for the review, Adam.

DAVIDPD on Jul 5, 2018


I'll check it out but can't help but be put off by Hope's character. She's just so unlikeable and the trailer for the second one made her look even worse - rolling her eyes at Scott and regularly dismissing him with utter contempt. Seemingly this review alludes to that. Whilst Hope gets to "embrace her inner badass", Scott gets "when he messes up or does the wrong thing". It's like Scott is the comedy dufus whilst Hope saves the day. I like Scott's everyman persona and hence seeing him mocked and ridiculed to allow another character to shine will become a little tiresome. Maybe that's poor form on the trailer but added to her aloof attitude in the first film it does make me approach the film with a healthy dose of negativity towards her.

Payne by name on Jul 6, 2018


There's some conflict but it's the least of what's going on in this movie. It's really fun and a great movie!

THE_RAW_ on Jul 9, 2018


I wonder if Ant Man and The Wasp will manage to save the day?!?!?!?!

Russell on Jul 6, 2018


Better not watch any comic book movie with that question...

THE_RAW_ on Jul 9, 2018


"...what's here that I'm missing? My inner child?" Yup.

Jorrell Mcdaniel on Jul 6, 2018


Better than the first one. Really funny and a ton of fun.

Krassy on Jul 7, 2018


This should be your go-to summer blockbuster popcorn flick. Great pacing, great characters, great action-beats with well placed humor throughout. Ant-Man was just "meh" to me, but this sequel far surpasses the original because embraces the ridiculousness of the powers and provides a cool science fiction plot point. I had a blast watching this and there's some moments where I actually found myself guffawing in the theater. Is it the best MCU movie ever? No, I wouldn't go that far due to some cringey and awkward forced "dramatic moments", but it's a ton of fun and I'm apt to see it again. Adam's right on with a 4 out of 5 rating.

THE_RAW_ on Jul 9, 2018


@disqus_yyq0lnHEEt:disqus these movies are for those who grew up reading comic books and still love comic books. It's comics come to life! If you're not on board because it's not grounded in "reality" then yeah, this is not your bag my friend. This is childhood fantasy, science fiction turned up to the MAX! The laws of physics and science don't really apply (or aren't a priority) here. Thankfully the writing, characters and plot points aren't completely droll or boring, because I admit, there are weak installments of comic book movies (see Batman vs. Superman/Justice League/Wonder Woman). But @jorrell_mcdaniel:disqus I think nailed it: if you can't bring yourself to embrace the wonderment of that child who loved beautiful and fanciful imagery, who did not think about how it interacts with gravity, or how someone donning a suit looks completely ridiculous to "save the day", then this is not your rodeo. lol But in comparison, doesn't law enforcement/the military (the good ones, not trying to delve into political debate here. I'm meaning what they SHOULD be) don uniforms to save the day? Different strokes for different folks, Bo. It's your opinion and I respect it. Take care!

THE_RAW_ on Jul 9, 2018


I have probably posted to this site once or twice in the past 7 years or so, but this conversation convicted me to write something. In todays climate, I cannot tell you how much it warms my heart to see an honest, normal, human conversation full of candor and honesty without the vitriol that seems to permeate comments on the web nowadays. Well done to both of you and a heartfelt thanks. If you want my take, I love these and all of the Marval movies but I also intentionally go in ready to suspend reality and have a good time. Heck, in the first Ant-Man, Paul Rudd's character plays like a skeptical audience member would, going so far as to make fun of the name. It's just a fun time, if you allow it to be. Anyhow, I don't come here near as much as I used to, but if I see either of your comments in the future I may be more inclined to drop a word. Thanks.

Brando on Jul 11, 2018


Hey Bo! Brando is what my buddies call me. Real name is Brandon. So out of curiosity, when you say you like your movies to be grounded in reality, does that mean you throw out fantasy, sci-fi, musicals, etc? If that's the case, I kinda feel bad for you!

Brando on Jul 12, 2018


LOL! If and when you get to know me better, you will know that I was certainly not looking down on you. I certainly respect your tastes, I was just genuinely curious on if you push those out of your viewing capacity all together. And if that was the case, I said I "kinda feel bad for you" because it makes me sad that you would deliberately avoid watching movies that can be wonderful experiences. Honestly, Kubrick was the first that came to mind - 2001 is one of my I don't feel too sad for you anymore. 😉 But there is also The Shining, which is a beautifully unique movie that has many elements of fantasy and the supernatural, as well as other less widely loved films like A.I. which is pure sci-fi with a great deal of social commentary and spiritual exploration. Anywho, sorry if I offended. Just trying to get to know my new friend. 🙂 I am an old fart, myself. Sounds like you got me beat, though. I grew up in the 70s and 80s.

Brando on Jul 12, 2018


Awesome. It sounds like you have very good taste and just know what you like (and what you don't). Definitely nothing wrong with that! And hearing that you do not hate the exploration into the fantastical, but you are just a little particular, makes me happy. I love Rocky, in the dumb "I know I am just watching this for a testosterone high" kinda way. But again, I now understand you a little better and why you wouldn't enjoy it so much. Just to be clear, I despise musicals....until I'm forced to watch them with my daughter or wife and I find them (most times, ahem *Pitch Perfect 3* *barf*) to be a fun escape. I'm also way beyond the "I can't believe this guy doesn't like what I like" years. Were all God's creatures and if we were all the same, the world would be a very, very boring and uninteresting place. going to watch Avatar 2?

Brando on Jul 12, 2018


P.S. True story, this is more than I have ever posted via Disqus in 10 years. LOL!

Brando on Jul 12, 2018


Thanks for the advice, old man. 😉 Pleasure talking with ya!

Brando on Jul 12, 2018


Good filler. I really liked majority of the movie overall, 3.8 out of 5 stars for me.

Brandon Cole on Jul 11, 2018


Good and intresting movie! I liked to watch it using mu boxxy software and with dubbing

Richárd Henrik on Sep 10, 2018

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