The Wasp is one of the oldest, most important Marvel characters of all time (she was one of the original five Avengers), and she’s also someone who has been waiting in the wings for far too long. In “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” the heroine finally gets her due in a movie that’s about her legacy as much as it is about the Avengers, and Ant-Man, overall. After the two heavy meals that were “Black Panther” and “Infinity War,” Peyton Reed’s return to “Ant Man and the Wasp” is like a nice light after dinner sorbet. It’s a palate cleanser, it’s simple, and it’s quite good.
Set directly after “Civil War,” Scott Lang was released from jail and put under house arrest for two years for stealing Hank Pym’s technology illegally. Now struggling to maintain his relationship with his daughter Cassie, he has to face regret about turning tail on Hank and Hope. Meanwhile, Hope and Hank have finally found the component to a machine that can allow them to reach the Quantum Realm, and find Hope’s mother Janet. When Scott begins receiving memories that belong to Janet, they’re convinced she’s inserted hints about where she is in to his consciousness. Scott is recruited to help them, but things become difficult when they’re confronted with a new masked villain known as “Ghost,” a phasing and super fast being who wants the machine for her own ulterior motives.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is so much different than its predecessor but keeps much of what made the original film so much fun. While the original was about the underdog redeeming himself, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” unabashedly embraces the family and comedy aspect a lot more this time. The sequel is much more of an ensemble this go around, where the title inevitably ends up being a reference to Marvel’s legacy characters. Through and through, Peyton Reed’s sequel is about family and the types of families we can build or stumble in to throughout our lives. The entire cast does such a bang up job reprising the roles of their respective characters, including Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily, both of whom have evolved. There’s also the return of Louis, with Michael Pena never missing a beat returning to the character.
There’s a larger emphases on the concept of the machinery that Pym has constructed, allowing Lily and Rudd to have a great time as these unusual heroes who use mass and weight as weaponry and resources quite often. It’s great to see The Wasp finally get the spotlight; director Reed emphasizes her clear importance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially with Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal as this fierce warrior who instills a lot of her own qualities in Hope. That said, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” suffers from a weak villain and some limp narrative points. I wasn’t too certain why Hank and Hope broke Scott out when he only had two days left in his sentence. Why not just wait a little bit? And if time can’t move in the Quantum Realm how did Janet age? What did she eat or drink?
As for the main villain “Ghost,” she looks fantastic on screen, but her motivation and ultimate back story just didn’t click and felt absolutely lackluster. She also tends to feel like an afterthought in a movie filled with much better developed characters. Beyond her killer costume, I doubt she’ll be discussed as one of the great cinematic villains of the MCU years from now. Walton Goggins also feels added on for better effect as a secondary villain, but he’s more a comic prop in the end, and doesn’t add anything to the overall narrative. He was so much more sinister in this year’s “Tomb Raider” reboot. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a light, fun side adventure that has a lot more fun with the premise and universe of Ant-Man, and I hope we get a follow up with more compelling villains down the line.