Ant-Man and the Wasp was just the small scale adventure we needed. As the twentieth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp was the calm after the storm. After the shocking finale of Avengers: Infinity War, I didn’t know how I could accept anything other than a direct follow up. Just like the first Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp was a breezy palette cleanser after such a large scale team up film. Scott Lang’s inclusion in Captain America: Civil War at least gave him a chance to fight with the Avengers before things got complicated. Both Ant-Man movies are pretty interchangeable, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is a great low stakes sequel. I love the first movies portrayal of the microscopic world, but the sequel is better in terms of wacky size-shifting hijinks.
The Phase Three schedule changed after the release of the first movie with the second installment revealed to have a rare superhero team up title. I was so excited to finally see Ant-Man and the Wasp together. Their romantic partnership has been a Marvel comics mainstay ever since Janet van Dyne debuted in Tales to Astonish #44. She continued to fight alongside Ant-Man when they formed the Avengers, and Wasp is actually responsible for naming the team. Wasp is one of the best female Marvel heroes, so it was just as cool to see her name in the movies title. After the messy production of the first film, Ant-Man and the Wasp was director Peyton Reed’s chance to grow the franchise on his own…
Ant-Man and the Wasp had its plot handed to it at the end of Ant-Man. Although I still prefer Hank Pym & Janet van Dyne as Ant-Man and the Wasp, I’ve come to embrace the mantle storyline. The opening at least gives them a chance to be heroes by giving context to the 1987 flashback from the first movie. Disney continues to show off with Michael Douglas once again looking like Gordon Geico and Michelle Pfeiffer looking like she did in Ladyhawke. The digital de-aging was easy for Pfeiffer since she’s aged like fine wine. Although Douglas wanted his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones to play Janet, Pfeiffer was dream casting for Reed ever since Hayley Lovitt stood in for her. She’s no stranger to comic book roles, but it had been 26 years since she played Catwoman in Batman Returns. I’m actually kind of shocked that high profile actors as big in the 90’s as Douglas and Pfeiffer haven’t worked together until 2018. They’re a perfect team when Janet says goodbye to their daughter Hope and joins her husband on a secret mission. The missile launch scene looks about the same with the comic accurate red Wasp suit in action. Dialogue is also added to make Janet’s sacrifice more tragic.
In present day, Hank tells Hope that it may be possible to save her mother after Scott was successfully brought back from the Quantum Realm. Ant-Man and the Wasp takes care of its Infinity War problem by setting events 2 years after Civil War, but roughly 2 days before the snap. Scott Lang and Clint Barton were both placed under house arrest after they went against the Sokovia Accords and were broken out of the Raft by Cap. So they’re absence in Infinity War made sense considering they both had families to think about. Ant-Man was just the only one who could have an entire movie explaining it. Ant-Man and the Wasp may be the most wholesome movie in the MCU. It’s borderline PG without all the swearing, and the length is very much under 2 hours. Paul Rudd dials up his man-child charm by playing elaborate games with his now 10 year old daughter Cassie, learning close up magic, drumming, shooting hoops, crying while reading The Fault in Our Stars, and singing along to “Come on Get Happy” by The Partridge Family.
Abby Ryder Fortson was an adorable little scene stealer in the first movie, but now she plays a much more active role. Her dad’s hilarious “World’s Greatest Grandma” trophy comes into play later and she even suggests becoming his partner. Something she will become as soon as she has the right stature for it. Luis is also still around since Michael Peña’s fast talking energy is too good not to include. Now Scott, Luis, Kurt, and Dave are ex-convicts starting a security business humorously named X-Con Security. Their banter is still pretty hit or miss and mostly amounts to a lot of danish jokes, but they also become important later on. Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t so much have villains as it does human obstacles. The first obstacle is the FBI when Scott accidentally trips his ankle monitor. Leading to all sorts of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off style shenanigans where Scott needs to figure out ways to fight without being caught. The perpetually wholesome Randall Park plays FBI Agent Jimmy Woo. Woo is one of the oldest Asian comic book characters who easily fit into the story. Woo has a funny love/hate relationship with Lang that leads to him practising close up magic. Lang’s ex-wife Maggie and her far more softened up husband Paxton drop by to defend Scott and pick up Cassie.
The plot kicks in when Scott has a realistic dream where he’s playing hide-and-seek as Janet. Although Hank & Hope are understandably mad that Scott used their tech to fight alongside Cap in Germany, he gives them a call regardless. Hope tranquilizes Scott and takes care of his ankle monitor by strapping it to a freakishly large ant. Despite her hair being much longer than the traditional pixie cut, Hope van Dyne is very much ready to take on her mother’s mantle as the Wasp. Something that never happened in the comics, but works for the story they went with. Evangeline Lilly is definitely in fighting shape as the co-lead who has just as much of an arc as Rudd. Hope & Scott’s romantic relationship has strained a bit since Civil War, but it’s not beyond repair. One of several creative shrinking gags is Hope driving around in a miniature car that Hank keeps in a Hot Wheels case. As per his request, Douglas isn’t given as much techno babble to say despite the much larger role the Quantum Realm plays in the sequel. Hank is even given more of a chance to be funny. He describes what’s happened to Scott as a quantum entanglement that can allow them to track Janet. But first they need a component to make their quantum tunnel work.
As more giant ants work on the device, Hank shrinks down his lab that he transports like a travel case. Not sure that makes sense, but suspension of disbelief. The component is supplied by the second major obstacle in the movie. Character actor Walton Goggins plays the southern black market restaurant owner Sonny Burch. He’s very different compared to his comic counterpart, but he does serve as a competent low-level threat. When their deal goes south, Hope finally suits up as the Wasp to fight Burch’s henchman. The Wasp suit retains its gold color scheme with hints of red and a similar enclosed helmet. Like the comics, the Wasp only uses her mechanical wings when she shrinks, as well as a pair of blasters. Lilly accomplishes her goal of having the Wasp attack with more grace and femininity during the kitchen fight. She takes the component, but her path is blocked by the closest thing to a main antagonist in the movie. Ghost is a literal ghost who can turn invisible, intangible, and retains a mysterious identity in the comics. Apart from the all-white costume and lethal stealth missions, Ghost is now a woman with a name played by Hannah John-Kamen. Her fight with Wasp prompts Scott to suit up in Hank’s prototype Ant-Man suit. The suit is similar to the one in Civil War with less noticeable modifications.
Ant-Man and the Wasp team up to fight Ghost, but her intangibility makes it difficult. Ghost manages to steal the lab, leading the three of them to take shelter at the X-Con office. It’s there that Kurt humorously refers to Ghost as baba yaga and Hank realizes the best way to track the lab is with help from a former friend. The sequel was also the best place for Bill Foster to make an appearance. Scott, Hank, and Hope enter his university in obvious baseball cap disguises that they use to find Foster. Being more of a Marvel guy, Laurence Fishburne plays the former associate of Pym who worked on Project Goliath. Black Goliath was once a black superhero who grew to enormous size before his death in the comic version of Civil War. Although his superhero identity isn’t seen, it does give him and Scott something to talk about. Reed was just a little annoyed that Scott becoming Giant-Man didn’t happen in an Ant-Man movie, but he makes up for that with plenty of growing and shrinking at varying sizes. The micro CGI isn’t seen as often as the first movie, but it is just as good as before. Unlike Iron Man 3, Ant-Man’s suit being faulty leads to several hilarious moments.
They use Foster’s suggestion of tracking the lab using a piece of tech from the original Ant-Man suit. Scott didn’t destroy the suit, but they do have to get it back from Cassie. Scott kept it in the “World’s Greatest Grandma” trophy, so Ant-Man and the Wasp infiltrate her school to find it. Hijinks ensue when Scott inadvertently grows in a janitor’s closet and hilariously shrinks to the size of a toddler. When they get the old suit back, they track the lab to a spooky mansion. It’s there that Ghost reveals herself to be Ava Starr, daughter of Elias Starr. Ant-Man doesn’t have the most recognizable rogues gallery, but I am glad they managed to fit in Egghead. The bald Michael Cerveris looks exactly like the character who was discredited by Pym for selling secrets. Ghost is made very sympathetic due to a quantum accident that claimed her parent’s lives and caused her painful intangibility that’s slowly killing her. Bill Foster met her when she was a child looking a lot like he did in Boyz n the Hood. His son Langston Fishburne actually stood in for him during that scene.
Foster continued looking after her when she killed for S.H.I.E.L.D, but he does keep her from crossing the line. Ghost is only considered a villain since she plans to stay alive using Janet’s quantum energy. Hank tricks them into escaping using an Altoid tin full of giant ants. When they reclaim the lab, Janet possesses Scott’s body to punch in the coordinates to find her. It’s a lot less creepy than it sounds, but it does support my theory that crafty engineer Scott Lang has been dumbed down a bit. Even though quantum physics aren’t his area of expertise. Burch and the X-Con trio become relevant again when the former tracks the lab down using literal truth serum. Luis gets his hilarious rambling story again when he recounts how he and Scott met, Scott’s relationship with Hope, and their falling out. Ghost is also in the room when he reveals their location to be the woods. Scott has another falling out with Hope & Hank when Burch contacts the FBI to arrest them. Cassie covers for her dad when Woo finds Scott back at home, but the Pyms aren’t so lucky. When Ghost steals the lab again, Scott uses Cassie’s advice to suit up again as Ant-Man. He manages to break them out of prison using ants and shrunken costumes.
The San Francisco climax is a wacky game of capture that lab that involves help from Luis, Hank entering the quantum tunnel to find his wife, Burch and his henchmen in a car chase, and Ant-Man and the Wasp fighting Ghost. Wasp constantly shifts the size of their van to fight back and humorously enlarges a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser. Stan Lee’s car even gets shrunk in a hilarious cameo. Luis continues to drive in a snazzy hot-rod while Ant-Man continues to grow at awkward moments. All the while Foster wishes Hank luck in tracking Janet. The Quantum Realm is just as beautiful as before, but all the danger goes away when he lovingly embraces his wife. Janet looks good for someone trapped for several decades as she managed to survive due to the adaptable nature of the Quantum Realm. Giant-Man grows to enormous size and takes the lab from Burch on a boat. When his size becomes too much for him, Wasp comes to his rescue by shrinking him down and giving him a much needed kiss.
Ghost grows the lab in an awkward place and nearly crosses the line by extracting energy from Janet. Ant-Man and the Wasp fight back long enough for Hope to have an emotional reunion with her mother. Ava & Foster are fully redeemed when Janet uses her quantum energy to heal their enemy of her pain. Burch and his men are arrested thanks to the X-Cons and the FBI is none the wiser when Woo finally removes Scott’s ankle monitor. The ending is almost too happy when Hank & Janet move their home to a beach and Cassie enjoys a drive-in laptop movie with her father and Hope. The expected gut punch comes after a creative action figure credits sequence. The mid-credits scene reveals the new quantum tunnel built inside Luis’ ugly brown van. Scott enters the Quantum Realm in his Ant-Man suit to collect energy for Ava. *Snap* Scott’s line goes dead when it’s revealed that Hope, Hank, and Janet were all turned to dust. The after-credits scene reveals the aftermath for the first time in the MCU by making us wait several minutes for an ant drumming. Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t especially deep, but a fun ride is exactly what moviegoers needed in the meantime.
Preceded by: Ant-Man & Followed by: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania