Review - Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), PG-13, 1h 58min - Much like its predecessor Ant-Man (2015), Ant-Man and the Wasp is the rare MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film that I wasn't counting down the days to.  That's not to say that I didn't want to see it, I just wasn't nearly as stoked for it as I usually am for a Marvel Studios release (especially coming on the heels of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War).  However, just like Ant-Man before it, I found this film to be one of the most fun MCU installments to date.

Ant-Man and the Wasp follows the events of both Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War, and precedes the events of this year's Infinity War.  Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is serving his final days of house arrest after his involvement in Civil War and is trying to get his security consultant business - X-Con Security - off the ground with fellow ex-con associates Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip 'T.I.' Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).  Meanwhile Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) have been working on a way to rescue Hope's mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm.  Scott has a weird dream and recalls coming into contact with Janet in the Quantum Realm, prompting him to contact Hope and Hank.  The three begin to reconcile (Scott was on their shit list for getting Hank's tech involved in Civil War) and work together to locate Janet in the Quantum Realm.  After consulting with Hank's former associate Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), they cross paths with Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), whose exposure to Quantum Realm energy as a child causes her to be intangible (due to the same explosion that killed her parents), and threatens to cause her to dissipate completely.  She wants to access the Quantum Realm in order to siphon off the energy needed to fix her intangibility.  Throw in small-time weapons/tech dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) into the mix -  he had sold parts to Hope before he realized who she really was - and you've got a three way fight for Pym's Quantum Realm Tunnel tech.

Scott continues to be a likable screw-up, just trying to reform himself and do what's best for those he loves, especially his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).  After being introduced in Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly's Hope definitely earns her equal billing in this film, taking over her mother's mantle as Wasp and being a central figure in both the story and most of the action sequences.  Speaking of which, the action sequences are once again some of the most inventive and entertaining that I've seen.  They make great use of the Pym particles and the shrinking and enlarging of people and inanimate objects alike.  Michael Peña's super-talkative Luis gets a bit more screen time in this sequel, but director Peyton Reed does well in not overdoing it.  Luis is a fun character but is the type that could become overly obnoxious if not handled properly.

I actually really liked that the threat in this film was smaller and more personal as opposed to being some larger, global threat.  Especially since this film came out after the enormity of events that was Infinity War.  Trying to somehow upstage those events with smaller characters (no pun intended) would have been a mistake for sure.  For those who have seen Infinity War and may have wondered "where were Ant-Man and/or Wasp?", don't worry, the mid-credits scene addresses that quite satisfactorily.

I was pleasantly surprised by Ant-Man three years ago, and feel very much the same way after Ant-Man and the Wasp.  I had little exposure to this version of Ant-Man prior to the first film but really enjoy this take and am very much looking forward to what comes next.  Not just for Scott, but for Hope, Hank, and Janet.  Ant-Man and the Wasp is a good, fun, summer-time flick.  It does a good job of filling in the story for these characters since they didn't appear in Infinity War, but like Infinity War, leaves us all wondering just what will come next.











*****SPOILERS*****

- Not a spoiler, but for those wondering, no, I have not posted a review to Avengers: Infinity War.  By the time I had a chance to see it, it had been out for three weeks.  Then by the time I had the time to write up a review, it had been out for over a month and at that point I wasn't sure that there was much point since it had done so amazingly well at the box office (i.e. everyone had likely already seen it).  I may try and get one written up for the digital/blu-ray release, we'll see.

- As has come to become expected with the MCU films, there are two post film scenes.  The first comes mid-way through the credits and shows Scott venturing into the Quantum Realm to collect quantum energy to help cure/fix Ghost.  Hank, Janet, and Hope are monitoring his trip, but once he collects the necessary energy, he doesn't get pulled back out.  We see that it is because all three have been turned to dust thanks to Thanos' finger snap in Avengers: Infinity War, leaving Scott trapped in the Quantum Realm.  The second scene appears post-credits and is pretty much a throw away.  It just shows one of Scott's ants playing the drums, which is a clip that we've already seen in the trailer.

- The obligatory Stan Lee cameo takes place when an old man (Lee) goes to get into his car, but it gets miniaturized right in front of him.  He makes a comment about the '60s being a lot of fun at the time but that now he's paying for them.

- Laurence Fishburne's Bill Foster mentions having worked with Hank Pym on Project Goliath and that he had grown to 25 feet tall.  This is a nice nod back to Foster's comic book history as Goliath.

- In the comics Ghost is a male villain with an unknown alter-ego.  I liked what they did with the character in this film.  The gender swap didn't do anything too drastic for the character (in my opinion) and I really enjoyed her ties to Pym, Foster, and the Quantum Realm.  I like smaller, more personal threats such as Ghost presented here.

- Ghost's father in the film, an associate of Hank Pym and Bill Foster is named as Dr. Elihas Starr.  In the comics, Starr is the villain Egghead, although with no connection to Ghost.  Egghead most recently appeared in the Nick Spencer-written Astonishing Ant-Man (2015) run.

- Scott's daughter Cassie talks to him about his needing back up while doing his super-heroics.  When he mentions Hope, she reluctantly agrees that she likes Hope and that she would be good back up, but says that she had hoped that she could be his back up one day.  In the comics Cassie is a teenager (so a bit older than in the film) and was Stature from the Young Avengers. Then more recently took on the name of Stinger (also during Nick Spencer's Astonishing Ant-Man run).

- Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale reprise their roles as Scott's ex-wife Maggie and her new husband Paxton respectively.

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