Ant-Man And The Wasp is the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a continuation of the Ant-Man sub franchise, Peyton Reed returns to direct the very safe, almost generic sequel.
Ant-Man And The Wasp takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War but before the apocalyptic events of Avengers: Infinity War. Stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Micheal Douglas & more return for the sequel and bring their own charm, humor and a sense of safety to the MCU’s latest adventure.
You’ll see the word “safe” being used a lot for this film, and for good reason. Ant-Man And The Wasp plays like a child’s superhero film, bringing with it many tropes, a constant and consistent feeding of humor, laughs and bright action to have most younger audiences captivated by the film. In many ways, it’s your “average” Marvel film. It features many aspects of the Marvel formula, both good and bad. The acting and tone of the film is mostly on par with the original Ant-Man but it also has an equally poor variety of villains, ranging from generic to almost cartoonish. In some ways, Ant-Man And The Wasp suffers most because of its direct predecessors. Following up the groundbreaking and formula shattering effort of Black Panther and the action packed, layered and herculean titan that is Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man And The Wasp doesn’t come close to matching the level of emotion, spectacle and grandeur of those films.
In some ways, this tone was expected. Director, Payton Reed, did not shy away from the fact that this film will stay true to the Ant-Man sub-franchise and wouldn’t bend to the latest trend of the MCU. When you judge this film purely in its own world and story, it isn’t bad by any stretch. The problem with the film lies in its safety with virtually everything about it. The humor is played safe, paling in comparison to Thor: Ragnarok, the family drama is played safe, not matching the efforts of Guardians of the Galaxy, the acting is played safe, a tough comparison to the work done in Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War, lastly, the action is played safe, unable to be compared to the Captain America Trilogy. Overall, Ant-Man And The Wasp feels afraid to challenge itself, the characters or the audience in any meaningful way, resulting in a Saturday morning cartoon more than a significant entry into the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While not having some of the emotional beats of the first film, some story threads and characters greatly elevate this film into one worth watching. The first and foremost is Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp. Lilly captures almost every scene she is in, brings out the emotional core of the film and the only negative is that there wasn’t enough of her. In a way, this film would have been much better if it was a Wasp solo film or have been called “The Wasp and Ant-Man” as she comes off as the true lead of the film but not able to fully shine due to an overuse of comedy subverting emotional scenes.
In what is essentially a family rescue story, Ant-Man’s personal story arc left more to be desired. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang is trying to make the most of his current living situation as he works to rebuild his life and the time he lost. Bridging the gap between Civil War and Infinity War, Ant-Man And The Wasp plays like a breather film, a chance to catch your breath and enjoy the filler before the MCU brings its heaviest hitters in 2019. The film makes sure you feel that because the film is essentially a fun family summer movie. Personally, the parts of the film that are worthwhile come from the relaxing family fare. No real attention or emotional investment is needed for the audience in this film, a stark difference from Infinity War. Ant-Man himself seems to only be there for the jokes and the fun as the film leans heavily on him to carry the humorous load and that brings both good and bad, depending on your taste. For me personally, the best characters are the ones with an emotional journey, which is why the Wasp was by far my favorite character in the film while Ant-Man came off as just being there, not too dissimilar to his appearance in Civil War.
Ant-Man And The Wasp is carried by Evangeline Lilly and Micheal Douglas, who are on a focused and committed mission throughout the film, staying serious when needed and provide the only semblance of stakes in the film. In my opinion, both do a fantastic job in their roles and the Wasp has a bright future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. Micheal Douglas does a good job reprising his role as Hank Pym and had the most compelling third act character moment. Paul Rudd is essentially playing Paul Rudd when portraying Scott Lang. Carrying the exact same vibe as the original Ant-Man and Civil War, a part of me wishes his character was given a semblance of character arc and growth, rather than remaining a static character for three straight films. Outside of that, Rudd fits into the role well is another one of the excellent castings from Marvel. While humor was expectedly prevalent and the primary focus of the film, the characters that led the film in this area are the “Ex-Cons”, Michael Peña once again shines comedically, reprising his role as Luis and is joined by Kurt and Dave. This trio is genuinely funny and their appearances in the film are brief but put to good use. Michelle Pfeiffer is absolutely excellent in Ant-Man And The Wasp and is a scene stealer the second she arrives.
Unfortunately, the area that Ant-Man And The Wasp suffers the most is in the villain department. Without getting into plot details, Ghost does not feel like a compelling villain for the MCU. Phase 3 of Marvel has had a streak of great villains for the last 6 films but Ghost and other villains in the film feel extremely hollow, thin, poorly motivated and quickly resolved. Where Ego, Vulture, Hela, Killmonger and Thanos bring strongly motivated story threads and payoffs, the villains of Ant-Man And The Wasp throw the villain style back to Phase 2 and become almost cartoonish in nature.
Overall, Ant-Man And The Wasp is simply a fun summer movie for families and younger audiences, no more and no less. Fans of the Ant-Man sub-franchise and Peyton Reed’s directing stye will find the film enjoyable as it builds off the first films smoothly and creates a cohesive duology for the character of Ant-Man and his supporting characters. The film is also very satisfactory for younger audiences and kids enjoying their summer vacations. The film is very much geared for this audience and the idea of family is heavily considered in both the story itself as well as the tone. Unfortunately, the film also suffers because of how safe it plays itself. Ant-Man And The Wasp doesn’t take any risks, refuses to provide characters with real character arcs and treats itself as nothing more than a breather between Marvel’s bigger players. It is fully possible that Ant-Man And The Wasp doesn’t need to play up to its superior counterparts and is happy for what it is, a generic, family popcorn film with a bunch of laughs and no true emotional catch. The Ant-Man franchise is by far the most kid friendly of the MCU and obviously no one expects a Winter Soldier or Black Panther style tone of feel. Despite that, with the film releasing only a couple of months after Black Panther & Avengers: Infinity War, films that I gave 4.5/5 and 5/5 respectively for being game changers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man And The Wasp is back to the safer MCU style and I find myself enjoying the ride for what it was but quickly looking forward to the next one. To conclude, Ant-Man And The Wasp is simply a fun summer family film, but does not reach the heights or standard that Marvel has built over Phase 3.