This 2018 American superhero film is the sequel to 2015’s ‘Ant-Man’ and the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is directed by Peyton Reed and stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park and Michelle Pfeiffer.
One of the most under-rated Marvel superheroes launched in 2015 with his big-screen debut, bringing together a solid cast and adding more pieces to the MCU puzzle. In ‘Captain America: Civil War’, Ant-Man stole the show by becoming Giant-Man in an all to brief but highly entertaining appearance. Now it’s time for the inevitable sequel; one that not only surpasses the original, but lets core Marvel values shine brightly in a franchise currently clouded by recent doom and gloom.
Grab your popcorn and kick back. It’s time to have some fun once again.
This film belongs to Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly – it’s a film about partnership, about family, friendship and being. It’s ‘Ant-Man & The Wasp‘; equal heading, equal footing on marketing and everything in-between. Rudd doesn’t need to try too hard to be humorous, but he still manages to do it in a very heartfelt and endearing way, making Scott Lang stand out as one of the Marvel heroes simply wearing a super suit and uses his heart, head, and honour to fight evil, rather than gifted God-like superpowers.
On the other side of this duo, Evangeline Lilly holds her own across the whole film. She is ballsy, brainy and badass. She’s a real humane hero who doesn’t become a damsel in distress. She clearly takes care of herself when the heat is turned up and, along with Rudd, shows some real heart and emotion that pushes the core themes forward. Rudd and Lily are equal, neither have greater ability than the other when it comes down to fighting the good fight, and none of them are there as a spare tool. It’s equality, and then some, and so much more enjoyable for it with them being together. The trailer used lyrics “It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta’ sight.” Never a truer phrase in this case.
With a stellar supporting cast including veterans Michael Douglas (who has even more to do this time around thankfully) and the amusing guilty-pleasure comedy of Michael Peña who all add to the story rather than be expendable, new faces also add to the overall quality. Laurence Fishburne helps expand character relations and morals, Walton Goggins as our charming black market bad guy for hire and Michelle Pfeiffer as the original Wasp and wife of Hank.
Young Abby Ryder Forston as Cassie, Lang’s daughter, shines with as much warmth and wit as Rudd in her scenes and is a joy to see on screen. But it is Hannah John-Kamen who strikes a chord as Ava Starr – our ‘Ghost’ – who has a molecular instability thanks to reasons left to be discovered. She’s pushed as the villain of the piece, but is she? Director Peyton Reed tiptoes towards MCU cliché in her goals and actions, but each time pulls back from the brink to give us something a little different and unexpected. Her story is a sad one and while she is highly dangerous in what she does and why, it’s the journey she takes mirroring the heroes that add some great moments and thrills, thrills that come thick and fast, and help define “popcorn entertainment”.
We have a brilliantly choreographed car chase that involve trucks, motorbikes, Pez dispensers and Hot Wheels racers. We have a hotel lobby and kitchen fight, once more perfectly choreographed, that showcases Lily in full force. We also have eye-popping ‘Doctor Strange’-esque quantum realm travel and bone-crunching hand to hand combat. The whole pace of the movie is perfect, and the action compliments each development and progresses everything and everyone without being pointless.
There isn’t the need for city-wide destruction and mass genocide here. It’s a family-friendly film, but one that harkens a little more to classic Marvel themes before the stakes were as high as they could be and it felt things had peaked. ‘Ant-Man & The Wasp’ takes the threat of Thanos out of the equation for a couple of hours and reduces all pointless cameos and Avenger interaction to give Ant-Man both a fair stand-alone sequel but also presenting new ideas for the future of the franchise.
The humour is on top form where you will find yourself chuckling along a lot of the time without even knowing it thanks to the snappy character exchanges. Yet, fear not, the movie isn’t stupid nor does it rely on infantile humour to get the laughs. There is a lot of heart to this film – the narrative is more about family and faith over Infinity Stones and nuclear wars – so you will certainly be able to invest in the characters, what they do and why.
Another strong reason this film seems to make great leaps forward to Marvel is the visual effects that stand amongst the best in the current franchise. There is no need for constant green screen and masses of CGI locations thanks to keeping things Earth based with practical sets and effects. The stand-out moments are the shrinking and enlarging of Ant-Man and Wasp. Split second transformations in the middle of breakneck fights are seamless and fluid, with the environment and characters reacting accordingly. Nothing feels jarred or loose. It’s tight, imaginative, entertaining and exciting. And when Ant-Man loses control of his suit’s regulator, there’s just more good fun to be had.
‘Ant-Man & The Wasp’ doesn’t try to compete with the juggernaut of ‘Infinity War’, it instead does the wise thing and distances itself far from it. If the bar to judge all MCU films hinges on ‘IW’, then you’ll find you miss out on these smaller gems that expand the forgotten heroes and their own stories.
However, for the ones who are worried, then don’t be. Events of ‘Infinity War’ are referenced in the film. How? When? You’ll have to find out for yourself and watch that Marvel cloud of doom and gloom smother the care-free fun you just had.
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Forston