Ant-Man and the Wasp has exceeded expectations and even out did its original film.
This sequel begins with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who is dealing with the consequences of Captain America: Civil War. Since Civil War, Scott has been under house arrest and is days away from being released when he gets a vision of Hope Van Dyne’s (Evangeline Lilly’s) mother stuck in the quantum realm. He is then thrust back into the shoes of Ant-man, alongside Hope’s new persona, the Wasp, to bring back her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Ant-man and the Wasp holds a ‘do you get it?’ sort of humour, one that at times can seem forced. However, it carries the beats from the original film with a new flair that keeps the audience engaged. It’s not clever humour, but it’s certainly something that points fun at itself and some Marvel tropes that have come before.
A great source of the film’s humour is Luis (Michael Peña) who brings with him the never-ending onslaught of nonsense. He brings a wild buzz to every scene he’s in, and even makes himself a valuable member of the super team.
Which is an amazing slice of this film: everyone gets to be a hero. It’s a theme that isn’t slapped across the audience’s face, but shows that a hero can’t always do everything. It realistically looks at each character and strategically slots them into a helpful role.
For example, Hope goes from being sidelined by her protective father in the first movie, to being cleverly used to the best of her abilities. And it creates some incredible fight scenes. Of course, it is her name in the title; we would expect more from her character. But it’s exciting to see Marvel further develop another heroine.
Giving the Wasp such a remarkable role also helps reflect her importance from the comics. Until recently, I only knew the Wasp from glancing at the animated series The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. But to my delight, I found out that this brilliant mind and skilled fighter was not only a founding member of the Avengers in the comics, but also the one who named it. Albeit Janet van Dyne’s iteration of the Wasp, it is still great to know she was a part of the Avengers even back in the 60s.
It is interesting how Marvel has built this story, because in order for everyone to have a piece of the hero pie, Ant-man did have to shrink back. But it is a necessary step, and it doesn’t mean he didn’t get his time to shine. In fact, the writers have used Scott’s step back in a clever way, and used it to grow his character. So, less kicking arse, but more emotional magic.
Beyond the fun banter and great characters is a new aesthetic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although not overt, Ant-man and the Wasp has incorporated visuals that seem to pay homage to old sci-fi films, with a touch of Men in Black. That last one came from the working ants looking like the M.I.B. worms. The visuals create half the fun, especially when the film takes the audience down into the quantum realm.
The biggest win Marvel has with this film is how they’ve managed to turn the clock back with their veteran actors. I know, this trick has been done since RDJ and his wonderful guy liner, but before this film, the audience’s eye would catch the strange digital fingerprints that removed the wrinkles and greys. In Ant-man and the Wasp Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne, and Michelle Pfeiffer were all successfully and wonderfully made younger. I couldn’t see any faults and was blown away by the impeccable visual effects.
The biggest loss in this film is its flat, two-dimensional villain. The Ghost, a.k.a Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), is the second Marvel female villain and comes only two films after her predecessor Hela. Unfortunately, the same problems arise where little depth is given to their monologues. Ava is a touch more relatable with an empathetic past, but it’s not enough to pull her out of the Marvel villain slump (which I hoped was over after Killmonger and Thanos).
That isn’t to say Ant-man and the Wasp is a poor film. It actually holds up well in the MCU with incredible action scenes, fun comedy, and a heart-warming father/ daughter relationship. Although it doesn’t reach the standard of Marvel’s best, it certainly holds a fun, comedic journey that’s easy to enjoy.
Before seeing this film, I do recommend that viewers scrub up on their understanding of quantum science (if that’s even the right term). It certainly helped me understand a little more of the science gibberish, and it’s also a very interesting subject!
With is predictable humour but brilliant action, Ant-man and the Wasp is a film you don’t want to miss this winder.
Ant-man and the Wasp will hit Australian cinemas on July 6.