September 24, 2020

Ant-Man and The Wasp Review

Over the last couple of years since the original Ant-Man was released in 2015 it’s become one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and one that I find myself re-watching quite often. The original movie was a great palate cleanser after the serious Avengers: Age of Ultron where the fun heist movie was just what Marvel fans needed after the large-scale Avengers film. In 2018 MCU fans are still reeling from what happened to their favorite characters in Avengers: Infinity War, which means that once again an Ant-Man movie is the sweat dessert traumatized Marvel fans need right now.

The movie begins with a flashback showing Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) mission as seen in the first movie, only this time we get to see the whole thing. As older Hank describes it in a voice over, we see the younger two leaving on their mission and then more of them with the missile. This time we hear their dialog and when Janet goes sub-atomic you see her point of view into the Quantum Realm. This flashback was Hank talking to Hope (Evangeline Lilly) at the end of the original movie and explaining that since Scott (Paul Rudd) successfully returned from the Quantum Realm he believes they could find her mother.

Jump forward to present day and we learn that Scott is only a couple of days away from the end of his two-year house arrest deal following the events of Captain America: Civil War. We also learn that due to his actions there, Hope and Hank are wanted fugitives as it was their tech he used to violate the Sokovia accords and they don’t really like him much anymore. When Scott has a dream of being in the Quantum Realm and seeing Janet, they reluctantly reunite with him as they believe he’s the key to finding Janet and bringing her home.

Their plan is complicated by the arrival of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), one of the MCU’s better villains. Actually describing her as a villain is a little misleading as she doesn’t have a world or universe-ending plan like Ego or Thanos; she just wants to cure her condition and believes Janet in the Quantum Realm is the key to that. The other villain in the movie is Walton Goggins as Sonny Birch, who is a black-market tech dealer Hank and Hope relied upon to build their Quantum Tunnel who turns on them when he finds out their true identities and wants their tech for himself.

Another big Marvel character is introduced to the MCU with Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) who is a former partner of Hank. The two hate each other, but Hank, Hope, and Scott turn to him when they’re all out of options at one point with Ghost. You get the sense that Hank was the hot head who’ll smack you around at any time, while Bill was the calmer of the two. Their past also plays into the origin of Ghost and how she got her powers.

And then there are “those three wombats” from the original movie, Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). They’re no longer planning a heist, but instead have started their own security company called X-Con. Of course they’re comedic relief again, and Luis’ story time in this movie had me in tears laughing.

That’s what’s great about Ant-Man and The Wasp. It’s one of those rare sequels that doesn’t forget or discard what made the first movie so good, but it manages to improve on everything. It’s much bigger this time. While the first movie was mostly stuck indoors, this one goes out into the streets and explores San Francisco. Yet the humor and relationships between these characters who came together as a family in the first movie is never lost in the larger canvas the sequel is given.

The only real issue I had with the movie is that I felt that sometimes the Sonny Birch angle was added just to create some additional threat and to throw another wrench in Ant-Man and The Wasp’s story, since Ghost didn’t have such a massive world-ending plot. But still, Ghost is a much better villain than the completely one-dimensional Yellowjacket in the original movie. Darren Cross’ only motivation was he wanted Hank Pym to be proud of him (basically), while Ghost is given an origin and back story that makes her a bit more sympathetic.

Peyton Reed has made comments recently about how he dreams of the Fantastic Four in the MCU, and after this and the original Ant-Man I hope Feige at least considers him whenever they can use those characters. Both Ant-Man movies have the family themes that Fantastic Four needs, and are science fiction movies with a light and fun tone. The Fantastic Four may be Marvel Comics’ first family, but in a way the characters in Reed’s two Ant-Man films are the MCU’s first family.

The movie does not require you to have seen Avengers: Infinity War to enjoy it, as long as you skip out prior to the two credit scenes. I won’t spoil them here, but the first does answer the Infinity War question everyone has while dropping a potentially huge Avengers 4 clue if you pay attention to the dialog. The second, while a silly “gag” stinger, does also connect to Infinity War if you’re observant of what’s going on in the background. It’s going to be a lot of fun to dive into these scenes once everyone has seen the movie.

If you look at all of the MCU sequels: Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Ant-Man and The Wasp is definitely in the top-tier. Much like the first Ant-Man, it’s one I’ll probably be re-watching a lot in the future. Definitely do not miss it in theaters, and definitely see it before you see Avengers 4.