Marvel Studios has been busy churning out some pretty big hits lately—Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and don’t even get me started on the world-shattering nature of Infinity War. We needed a breath of fresh air and Ant-Man and the Wasp is just that.
With a focus on small-scale storytelling, Ant-Man’s sequel picks up after the excessively destructive Civil War airport showdown, and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been sentenced to two years’ house arrest under the overly watchful eye of FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park).With only three days left before he’s free, Scott finds himself entangled in a scheme to bring back Hank Pym’s wife (Hope’s mother), Janet, from the “quantum realm” (a place previously believed to be unescapable until Scott achieved the impossible in Ant-Man, inspiring the plan he’s roped into).Because Scott breached the Sokovia Accords while using Pym’s Ant-Man technology fighting in Civil War, both Pym and his daughter Hope are now fugitives. Desperate to bring back their loved one, they turn to the wealthy, yet incredibly forgettable criminal Sonny Burch (Walter Goggins) to source their equipment, simultaneously attracting the attention of the much more memorable villain, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen)—who can de-materialise at any time with the added bonus of a painful past that appears to be entwined with quantum technology.
Beware: there’s a lot of quantum related mumbo-jumbo thrown around in this film, often in a fast-paced, no-nonsense manner to deter further questions. Even though we’ve watched multitudes of unbelievable, improbable events and characters light up the Marvel screens, there is just something about the quantum talk that still seems far-fetched. Perhaps, it’s because the sciencey-talk is often brushed over rather quickly in past films, whereas, in Ant-Man and the Wasp, it seems to take centre stage. Pump a guy up with blue liquid and he’s ripped. Piss off a spider, bam, you have powers. Get rubbed with a magical stone—now you can outrun a bullet or weave magic. All of the science and logic behind these incidents were quickly explained in a matter-of-fact manner that made us go, yeah, that sounds about right. But in Ant-Man and the Wasp, this is certainly not the case. The amount of time dedicated to explaining or attempting to explain the science makes us constantly over-examine and second-guess the information we’ve been provided, resulting in a frustrating distraction of the narrative at work. Scott sums up the audience’s perspective perfectly when he asks, “Do you guys put quantum in front of everything?”
Ant Man and the Wasp has a small-scale approach to storytelling; instead of epic battles and universe cross-overs, the film focuses on Scott’s attempt to stay out of prison, the Pym family’s mission to bring back Janet, and the mystery that is Ghost. It reminds us that that the cosmos doesn’t have to be at risk for a Marvel film to have impact.It also draws our attention to the role Scott plays in Ant-Man, and more importantly, the role of family. Although he just fought alongside some of the biggest superheroes in the Marvel universe, Scott is really more of a sidekick than a hero. For a start, Hope is way better than him at everything—fighting, scheming, escaping. Scott still steals constantly, is often goofy and sheepish, and is almost always the butt of jokes—intellectually and physically—with his new and malfunctioning suit. Here, Scott helps other characters achieve their goals—the main narrative doesn’t even revolve around him, which if anything, probably makes him a better hero-figure and is the reason others choose to stand by him.
Despite the odd iffy element, I can easily say Ant-Man and the Waspis better than its predecessor. The sequel is smarter, more exciting, it provides stronger comedy, while maintaining its enthusiastic energy. Featuring more enjoyable fight scenes and a far better sense of humour—with Michael Peña returning as Luis with the ex-con group (now employees of Scott’s new security company) for way better laughs. For many, Ant-Man was fun but inevitably forgettable. Ant-Man and the Wasp aims to step up the game for the series, making for a more enjoyable and memorable watch.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is in cinemas today.