With Ant-Man and the Wasp, Marvel has reached an unprecedented milestone. Twenty movies all taking place in the same universe. And as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. So after the amazing one-two-punch of Black Panther and Infinity War, expectations are on for the third MCU film of the year to the deliver. Does this Ant-Man sequel prove that the Marvel formula has been perfected?
Well, yes… and no. Ant-Man and the Wasp certainly has all the elements of a modern Marvel movie. That fact alone almost automatically makes it well worth a watch. It’s funny, chock full of intense action, and it’s got enough heart to make you care. However, there’s just a certain mystery element missing, innovation. A bit of uniqueness could have lifted AM&W to a higher level. Sadly, the end result is a movie that’s less exciting than the sum of its parts.
The parts themselves, however, are entertaining enough. Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man carries the film with his natural charm and stellar comedic timing. Michael Peña steals every scene in the role of Scott’s best friend Luis. And Hannah John-Kamen convincingly plays Ghost, a good villain with believable motivations who sadly doesn’t get enough to do.
The real star of the show, however, is Evangeline Lilly. Her Hope Van Dyne was merely a side character in the original film, but she’s definitely earned the Wasp name in the sequel’s title. Wasp is the main drive in pretty much all the best action scenes, and Lilly does so with conviction and an air of badassery.
The action itself does its job, chugging the story along at a considerable pace. However, the gimmicks that served Ant-Man well in Ant-Man and Civil War have kind of lost their magic. There’s very little inventive use of them. This is most apparent in fights with Ghost, where her phasing powers and Ant-Man/Wasp’s shrinking are basically only ever used to evade a punch here and there. It all serves the story well, but while writing this review a day later, I can’t remember many details at all. Not a great sign.
The story is also fairly standard, if at a smaller scale than we’re used to. Instead of a faceless horde of mooks threatening the entire universe, all the character motivations are a lot more personal. Hope and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are looking for their mother/wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), trapped in the quantum realm. Scott’s trying to help them while trying to be there for his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Even the villainous Ghost is only out for her own survival. It’s refreshingly quaint, but setting it in between two major Avengers flicks rather undermines the plot’s importance.
It’s actually pretty apt to compare Ant-Man and the Wasp to another recent Disney film more known to us, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Both enjoyable flicks whose formulaic and small-scaled script prevent them from stepping out of their big brothers’ shadows. Non-essential but well worth your money. Which of these two films ends up being your favourite will probably largely depend on which characters you prefer. Personally, Solo wins this race by a parsec, but fans of the diminishing duo and Marvel in general will find plenty to enjoy in Ant-Man.