When Ant-Man came out in 2015, it was a wonderful surprise. The character had had a small role (you could say) in the comics during the Silver Age of Marvel. Some wondered how it could stand up against Ironman, Thor, and the other iconic characters of the Marvel Movie Universe. And then there was the firing of writer/director Edgar Wright over “creative disagreements” when the movie was in production. But when the finished product hit the theaters, it was well-received with its perfectly balanced mixture of comedy and action. Paul Rudd’s turn in Captain America: Civil War was short but sweet – and very, very tall for a while. All worked out well for Edgar Wright, too, since he instead made Baby Driver, a hit with both audiences and critics.
The sequel for Ant-Man was already teased at the end of the first film. Fans have waited anxiously to see Evangeline Lilly put on the Wasp suit and become the first female character in the title of a Marvel film. Then Avengers: Infinity War came out in April and completely upset the Marvel Universe. Both Hawkeye and Ant-Man were no-shows in that film, having taken deals with the government following their arrests after the events in Civil War. The question was, what affect would Infinity War have on Ant-Man and the Wasp?
The answer is almost none, since the plot of Ant-Man/Wasp takes place before Thanos’s minions show up in New York City. Scott Lang (Rudd) is within days of finishing his home confinement sentence, wearing an ankle bracelet to keep him inside. He’s consulting with his three compadres from the first film – Michael Pena, T.I. Harris, and David Dastmalchian – for the private security firm they’ve set up, but his focus is to complete his time so he can be more involved with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Lilly), have been on the run since they refused to abide by the Sokovia Accord, meant to control superheroes. Their focus has turned to the Quantum Realm in the hope of freeing Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank’s wife and Hope’s mom – if she’s still alive. Their experiments bring them in contact with tech black-marketer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) to get equipment needed for their experiments. When Hope meets with Sonny, he reveals he knows both her and Hank’s identities and wants to exploit their knowledge. However, a third party interrupts their meeting and steals the tech Hank needs. The white-clad, masked thief can phase in and out of the world, allowing her to walk through walls and giving her the name Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). In need of help, Hank and Hope reach out to Scott.
Between Ghost, Sonny, and the Feds, Ant-Man/Wasp is much more action-driven than the first movie, with twists and turns throughout. Also playing a part is Lawrence Fishburne as Bill Foster, a former partner and friend of Hank Pym’s. The film also has more fun with shrinking objects, including cars and even buildings (that have a handy luggage trolley build in).
The screenplay credits feature five people broken up into two teams: Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, who did the screenplay for Spider-Man: Homecoming as well as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, matched with Paul Rudd and his two collaborators, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. There’s still plenty of comedy and comedic action, though they’ve increase the adrenalin factor so it runs closer to a regular Marvel movie. Peyton Reed is back as the director, and he maintains the fun factor of the film.
Evangeline Lilly does get to kick some major butt in the film, which pays off her potential from the first film. Also, as I mentioned in my review for Incredibles 2, the recent Marvel movies (along with DC’s Wonder Woman) have leveled the playing field between men and women in the movie genre. Lilly’s Wasp is, if anything, more powerful than Rudd’s Ant-Man. The filmmakers also switched genders for Ghost, who has always been a male character in the comics. Hannah John-Kamen has been on SyFy channel’s series “Killjoys” since 2015, and has appeared in “Game of Thrones.” This year has been good for her as she played the security agent for the bad guys in Spielberg’s Ready Player One as well as this role. While it’s a villainous role, John-Kamen also makes you feel pathos for the character.
We do know that Rudd, Lilly, and others show up in next year’s Avengers movie. (Marvel did a 10th Anniversary “class photo” last October where they got together everyone in the Marvel Universe. Click here to see a short behind-the-scenes piece on the event.) The first of two credit tags – the one after the main credits – sets up that moment. Next May can’t come soon enough.