Synopsis: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past. (From IMDb)
Review: When Ant-Man first came out in 2015, Paul Rudd seemed an odd choice to play a superhero. However, Rudd infused his character, Scott Lang, with a nice sense of wholesomeness, which is ironic since the movie opens with Lang leaving jail. After the stand along film, Ant-Man appears in an extended cameo in Captain America: Civil War but not in any of the Avengers films. Ant-Man and the Wasp explains why Lang and the gang do not hang out with Captain America and company.
Ant-Man and The Wasp starts two years after Lang’s adventures in Captain America: Civil War. Lang (Paul Rudd) has three days remaining of house arrest; he made a plea bargain to avoid jail-time for aiding Steve Rogers against Tony Stark. While Lang tries to stay mentally stimulated at home, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) keep experimenting with ways to rescue Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, from the quantum realm. They seem on the brink of success when an unexpected roadblock throws a wrench in the plans. Scott reluctantly agrees to help, even though he could go to jail for a long time if caught. This leads to the most amusing part of the film with Scott trying to stay one-step ahead of the FBI while also helping Hank and Hope.
Back at the transportable Pym Lab, Hank and Hope finally built a “quantum tunnel” device that will allow them to enter the quantum realm and rescue Janet. However, once knowledge of the device becomes known, black-market arms dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a woman who phases in and out of reality, both attempt to steal it for various reasons.
Under the guidance of Hank, Scott and Hope suit-up as Ant-Man and the Wasp to keep the tunnel out of the wrong hands. This endeavor proves easier said than done. Michael Pena, T.I., and David Dastmalchian return as Lang’s ex-convict friend group and business partners. They founded a security company (X-Con Security) because ex-cons cannot find decent paying jobs. No more Baskin Robbins for these bad boys.
While I enjoyed the film overall, I felt the protagonists had too many villains. There are the Southern Gun Runners, the Ghost, and the FBI all chasing after Lang and Hope for various reasons. Alliance change on a dime depending upon who has what information. While all the backstabbing and running around led to some fantastic fight scenes, none of the villains felt well developed. The FBI agent Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park, served more as comedic relief than an actual, threatening antagonist. Neither of the two actual antagonists, Ghost and Sonny Burch, offered any real threat to Lang and Hope.
Ghost merely seeks vengeance against Pym for the death of her father. Sonny Burch wants Pym’s technology in order to make weapons and earn a lot of money. Agent Jimmy Woo keeps trying to prove that Lang periodically escapes from house arrest. All three plots converge at the climax of the film, but the first act of the narrative it felt overly chaotic. Part of the problem with these three antagonistic narrative arcs is the lack of suspension. None of the villains feels like a real threat, just more like buzzing annoyances. The most suspenseful and life-threatening scene occurs during the end credits. My main problem with superhero films is poor motivation and character development on the part of the antagonists, a common complaint I have with nearly all the Marvel films. When the hero possess “superior” abilities due to nature or technology, the villain needs to possess similar abilities or even more in order to provide a credible threat. For some reason, the Marvel films seem to struggle with creating credible, well developed antagonists.
Laurence Fishburne pops up in an extended cameo playing Hank’s former colleague. They do not like each other. Michelle Pfeiffer also appears in an extended cameo scene. She does an excellent job with the limited material she is given. In Pfeiffer’s defense, Janet is more of a plot device than a character in this film. The narrative strongly hints that Janet will play a critical role in any future installments.
Rudd, Lilly, and Douglas’ give excellent performances. Hope’s character developed well as she takes on the identity of the Wasp. I felt Lily’s portrayal seemed more nuanced in this film than in Ant-Man. I think it is impossible to dislike Paul Rudd in this role; he just fits the character perfectly. Rudd delivers excellent one-liners in a natural way, a lot like my brother does in normal conversation, and makes Ant-Man seem larger than life. I could easily see the character of Lang existing in the “normal” world. Douglas could probably act everyone under the table. He plays the part of the exasperated scientist exceedingly well and has excellent chemistry with Lily and Rudd. Hannah John-Kamen, as Ghost, does a serviceable job of playing a tormented, troubled antagonist. However, I felt the character could use a little more depth and development in order to feel truly threatening.
Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp sticks to the action-comedy roots of the first film, creating genuine laughs and several truly enjoyable car chase/ant chase sequences. While Ant-Man may not be the most popular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is definitely the funniest.
Check out the trailer:
Musings on Books and movies
Musings on Books and movies