In the Limelight

Scott Lang has had an interesting journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, somehow making a full circle ‒ from convict, to Baskin-Robbins employee, to superhero, and back to convict. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, he’s just trying to endure the consequences of his actions in Captain America: Civil War, which placed him under house arrest ‒ though circumstances quickly arrive that require him to violate the terms of his arrangement.

Scott is pulled back into his life as Ant-Man after he experiences a vision of the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, in the Quantum Realm. Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne soon realize that, when Scott was pulled into the Quantum Realm in the first film, he made a connection with Janet, who has been trapped in that dimension for 30 years. Hank and Hope attempt to build a tunnel in order to enter the Quantum Realm (and then actually be able to escape from it) in the hopes that they can rescue Janet, who has made it clear through her connection with Scott that she is still very much alive.

But besides the challenge of building a portal to another dimension, the crew has a whole lot of other issues on their hands ‒ namely, criminal and general scumbag Sonny Burch, and the stealth ops threat of Ghost. Sonny is interested in getting his hands on Hank’s portable laboratory in order to use the tech to generate the big bucks, while Ghost believes that the energy from the Quantum Realm can help stabilize her body, stop her from phasing, and eliminate the constant pain she’s in. These two forces do everything they can in order to achieve their own goals, while Scott, Hope, and Hank must evade them and finish the portal in order to rescue Janet before it’s too late.

After everything that happened in Infinity War, there were a whole lot of questions with regards to what, exactly, Ant-Man and the Wasp were up to at that time. This film manages to explain why they weren’t present for the events in New York and Wakanda in a way that makes a lot of sense for these characters. Though the story’s stakes are much, much lower than that of Infinity War’s, Ant-Man and the Wasp’s lighter fare is perhaps exactly what superhero fans need after the crushing ending of the prior film. Sure, the conflict seems almost paltry compared to that of Thanos, but the film is a genuinely enjoyable and totally wild ride from start to finish, and one that is super satisfying to watch. I’d also qualify Ant-Man and the Wasp as the funniest Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date ‒ it’s almost nonstop in terms of jokes and quips, but never in a way that feels forced or contrived. The natural snark of the characters involved lends to a lot of funny writing, and while I wouldn’t qualify this film as a comedy per se, it definitely will stand out from the rest of the MCU on the laugh factor.

With essentially the entire main and supporting cast from the first Ant-Man film returning, it’s another round of some really stellar performances. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly have remarkable chemistry on-screen and strike a delicate balance that is deserving of the equal title billing. Their partnership here is exciting for all the right reasons and it’s one that I hope the MCU continues to expand on with additional sequels (or other film appearances) in the future.

Obviously, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym remains a huge draw and his performance is a grounding force in this movie. Perhaps due to the writing, he gets to show a little bit more of a range here than he did in the first movie, which was great to see, since he’s a spectacular actor regardless of what role he’s in.

The newcomers to the cast are all great as well. Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch is the perfect greasy, smarmy, low-life criminal type ‒ but with just enough else going on to take the character out of “tired trope” territory. Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost was also great, being appropriately creepy and genuinely terrifying as she stalks down the protagonists, while also having a surprising amount of emotional depth that I didn’t initially expect. Laurence Fishburne is a surprising standout as Bill Foster, and his past rivalry with Hank plays a much larger role than I would have anticipated. And of course there’s Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet, who, while she doesn’t get much in the way of screentime, makes a major difference in every scene she appears in and is the emotional core of this story.

While the lighter story and general comedic vibe of Ant-Man and the Wasp might cause some emotional whiplash coming off of the events of Infinity War, it’s absolutely going to be a must-watch for the summer movie schedule. It’s a delightful ride from start to finish and it’s clear that Ant-Man has found his niche among the larger heroes of the MCU.

Oh, and ‒ as always ‒ stick around for the credits.

-Carrie Wood