Image: Marvel Studios
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the sequel to 2015’s “Ant-Man” sees the return of director Peyton Reed, as well as Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Evangeline Lily as Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. The entire cast of side characters from the first film is back as well along with several newcomers like Hannah John-Kamen as the film’s villain, Ghost, Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster and Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch. This film begins before the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” and deals with the aftermath of “Captain America: Civil War,” specifically Lang’s actions.
It seems appropriate that the biggest film in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) should be followed up with the adventures of the smallest hero and heroine in the MCU. Similarly, this film feels small and self-contained. There are of course references to past events and small looks ahead, but overall, this Marvel installment is meant to be a passive, fun time.
The first “Ant-Man” film had a stronger narrative in that it was a comeback story for a very likeable, relatable character in Lang. The sequel still tells a personal story, but only some of the time. There are a lot more plots to follow this time around and by trying to do justice to all of these stories at once, each come up a little short.
As in nearly all the Marvel films, the characters are arguably the strongest part of the movie. In the “Ant-Man” films even more than most; the side characters are all memorable. Michael Pena, T.I. and David Dastmalchian are all back as Langs’s friends and might be even funnier this time around in the screen time they get.
A lot of the dramatic weight in the sequel goes to Hope, and Lily does a great job of bringing more to that character than we got in the first film. John-Kamen’s character Ghost is also interesting and has a past that you want to learn more about; that’s why it’s a little disappointing that the movie wasn’t more streamlined. All the characters we are introduced to are cool and interesting, but we don’t get a lot of time or development for them because there’s not enough screen time to go around.
That issue, along with a couple unexplained things that happen in the third act lead me to believe that these things are going to be fleshed out in later films. As an individual movie, I can see why that would be a negative for someone who doesn’t plan to watch all of the Marvel films and won’t get all the answers they want, possibly not even within the “Ant-Man” series of movies.
Where this film is better than the first is in the action sequences. The Wasp suit has a new set of abilities to put on display and there are some great fighting scenes with her and Ant-Man. Ghost also has a very unique set of powers that present a tough matchup for our heroes. The shrinking technology of “Pym Particles” is used in very creative ways that help make the film a truly fun time.
Overall, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a solid installment in the MCU but sometimes feels spread a bit thin. The action and characters are great, even though Ghost probably doesn’t get enough time to be as sympathetic as the film wants her to be. Despite that, the film does succeed in its main goal, which is to be a light, funny, summer ride.
Griffin’s score: 7/10