Ant-Man and the Wasp title card

“Ant-Man and the Wasp”: Large Laughs in Small-Stakes Superhero Sequel

Film

If you know me, you know that I’m obsessed with all most things Marvel. And if you know that, then you know that my favorite Marvel film is Ant-Man.

Yes, I know. Yes, yes, I know, I know. We had the absolutely glorious Black Panther earlier this year — how could that not be my favorite?

Hey, I love T’Challa, Nakia, Shuri, Okoye, and the rest of the family. And Black Panther is most definitely in the upper echelon of Marvel films (personally, it’s either No. 2 or 3 for me). And I will even concede that it’s a better film than Ant-Man.

Jay Fingers loves Ant-Man

But I said favorite.

And here’s why: There’s just something that speaks to me about Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a guy who tries to do the right thing but ends up being punished and vilified and considered a loser. Hey, no good deed, amirite?

Anyway, Scott redeemed himself in the first film, saving his daughter (and the world, I suppose) from the clutches of the nefarious Darrin Cross aka Yellowjacket. But then he got his ass in trouble again after the events of Captain America: Civil War. For those who need a refresher:

Ant-Man and the Wasp picks up a couple of years after that. Scott has been under house arrest since Civil War, although he’s started a security consulting firm with his buddies Luis, Dave, and Kurt (the immensely funny trio of Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, and David Dastmalchian).

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

However, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), his love interest from the first film, and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man, are wanted criminals for providing Scott with the Ant-Man suit. It violates the Sokovia Accords and … look, they’re on the run from 12 and are pretty pissed at Scott. All of this is explained in a hilarious info dump by FBI Agent Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park. I really hope we see more of him in future MCU films.

In the interim, Hank and Hope have been working on a machine that will allow them to travel to the Quantum Realm. Scott ventured into this realm and returned in the original film, a feat thought impossible. Now the father-daughter duo hope to enter the Quantum Realm to find Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who disappeared into it some 30 years earlier.

GHOST / ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

This attracts the attention of the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who’s able to phase through solid matter as well as become invisible. Also chasing the Pym technology is black-market tech dealer and restauranteur Sonny Burch, played with both malice and humor by Walton Goggins. And Hank’s old colleague Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) may be able to help him out.

OK, so that’s the setup, and let me just tell you that it all leads to two hours of nonstop action and laughs. And maybe it’s too early to call it, but I think this film improves on the original. The jokes fly fast and plentiful, and while there are callbacks to the first movie — Luis’s storytelling, even more punny “Ant” names — they aren’t annoying.

Rudd is as charming as ever, and Lilly is a heroine for the ages as her Wasp is truly a kickass presence to behold. I mean, let’s be real, she’s better at this superhero shit than Scott Lang’s Ant-Man. Douglas is perfectly curmudgeonly as the scientific genius and former SHIELD agent, and John-Kamen is both formidable and vulnerable as villain Ghost, who definitely holds her own against our insect-themed heroes.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

The shrinking and growing powers are used to great effect, and the set pieces are a joy to behold, especially an epic car chase through the hilly streets of San Francisco that culminates at Fisherman’s Wharf. Oh, and the Quantum Realm? I’ll just say this: Do not take any trippy drugs before seeing this or your ass will trip all right.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet it’s a definite reprieve from the more serious entries we got this year, the aforementioned Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. But it’s also a goof, a breather episode, a welcome break from the relative gravitas of those films. (Although I will say that the two post-credits scenes do tie into Infinity War. No spoilers, but you think you’ll be ready. You won’t be.) The world — or universe — isn’t at stake here, and that’s a good thing. Not everything needs to be on such an epic scale to have an impact. Ant-Man and the Wasp might be small stakes, but it sure does pack a wallop.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

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