The latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” really stands alone as one of the lighter delights of the MCU. Better than the original 2015 “Ant-Man” this film is really more about the Wasp.
Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is on the last days of the house arrest stemming from his actions in “Captain America: Civil War,” and, thankfully, that’s really the only reference to the wider MCU. And this film doesn’t need it. He’s getting through his boring days by establishing a legit security consulting firm, hilariously called “X-Con” with his former cellmate, Luis (Michael Peña), and entertaining his adorably cute daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), with a homemade cardboard fort/slide. He promises that he’s not been in contact with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) or Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). He just wants out of his ankle monitor.
Visions of the quantum realm invade his dreams and he calls Hope. You see, she and her Dad, Hank, have been working on a quantum tunnel in the hopes of being able to rescue Mom and wife, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), from the Quantum Realm which she shrunk into 30 years previously in order to disarm a bomb. Scott’s vision coincides with turning on the tunnel. It seems there might be hope to rescue Janet after all.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” builds on the jokes, gags, and comedic timing of the first film and surpasses it, including one of Michael Peña’s rapid-fire conflated explanations that’s lip-synced by the other characters. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one laughing out loud in the theater. There’s even a scene where Scott makes fun of all the scientific mumbo jumbo by saying, “Do you guys just say ‘quantum’ before everything?”
This film delivers all the action sequences that we’ve come to expect from an MCU film and all the fun that shrinking things and then those same things getting, like, super huge provides. I love the way Hank and team plan for alternative transportation: with a case full of Hot Wheels that can be transformed into full size, working automobiles.
The plot really allows Lilly to shine as the Wasp. Her relationship (or lack thereof) with her mother is the backbone of the film, however, and the grief of their three-decade separation continues to plague Hope.
Since every superhero movie needs to have a villain, the Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), with her ability to phase in and out of spaces and through walls or anything else solid, does a fair job.
Amid all the fun and action of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” comes the example of what true love will give for another. Hank lost his wife (and Hope her mother) to the Quantum Realm and has never lost hope that he could some day bring her back. All the danger that happens to our super heroes during the film is because of their pursuit to bring back their loved one. Even Ghost and her protector/father-figure, Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), are motivated by care for another, although Ghost’s “redemption” could come at a high price for others.