Marvel has really been on a hot streak. They have always been good but recently it seems like their films have been especially good. 2018 alone has already been an incredible year for Marvel Studios with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War at the lead (both of which I loved) and now we have Ant-Man and the Wasp. The sequel to the 2015 Ant-Man feels like it doesn’t have as much to prove. Taking a step back from the massive world-ending scale of Avengers and going away from the mythical storytelling of Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp is refreshingly low scale and doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is.
This being said Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun movie but doesn’t live up to the streak that Marvel has been on (since Civil War). Removing wild expectations of following up Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man, and the Wasp will entertain you with its fast pace, bright colors and zany humor. The depth of writing does leave something to be desired with the villain and dialogue being lackluster in comparison.
Perhaps saying dialogue is being too broad. Dialogue also includes comedy so it is unfair to say all dialogue was lackluster. Ant-Man and the Wasp, like the first Ant-Man, doesn’t take itself too seriously. It knows the concept is a bit silly and leans more heavily into the lighter more comedic side of Marvel then the serious side of things. In this regard, Ant-Man and the Wasp succeeds. The movie is a very entertaining and an easy watch. The comedy is very fun and that’s the part of the writing that is very sharp.
The comedy is also bolstered by some terrific actors in front of the camera. I have always really enjoyed Paul Rudd as Ant-Man who is able to play silly in a very straight and sincere way without becoming a total goofball. Rudd is also very tender in the scenes with his young daughter Cassie (played wonderfully by Abby Ryder Fortson). Evangeline Lilly really does earn her co-starring role with Ant-Man as the Wasp/Hope Van Dyne. If anything, Ant-Man and the Wasp is more of her story than Ant-Man’s but the screenplay is able to weave a balance between both character arcs making this feel like a true team-up movie.
Michael Douglass is good as Hank Pym but he gets saddled with the worst of the dialogue. It is in the Hank Pym scenes that the dialogue started to bother me. It seems the movie uses Pym as a crutch to explain everything going on in the plot overusing scientific jargon. He also many of the relationships and emotional beats of the movie. Instead of showing the last time he went on an adventure with his wife and Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), Pym has to explain it all robing the moment of emotional weight. The narration very awkwardly transitions into setting up the plot of the entire movie. It is in moments like this I wish some of the writing pulled back a bit.
My criticisms of this movie feel relatively the same as the first movie. The movie presents a lot of good setups, good building blocks for a more in-depth movie but doesn’t always execute them properly. The relationship between the villain and the hero in both movies could have made for a very compelling antagonist. But, both movies settle for a heavy-handed exposition to explain the relationship rather than exploring it. Yes, after a hot streak of really good Marvel villains like Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hela from Thor: Ragnarok, Killmonger in Black Panther, and of course Thanos in Infinity War, we fall back on the disposable villains of early Marvel flicks. Hannah John-Kamen is good as Ghost but her character doesn’t feel fully realized and her motivations feel ill-timed and also contrived. I’m not sure why Walton Goggins is even in this movie. His character feels too separated from the ongoing conflict as a separate antagonist. Perhaps if Goggins and Ghost were linked together it would have made a villain pair up to contrast the hero team up.
That all being said the movie’s beats work well enough for the movie to function and succeed. I feel like there has been an untapped potential with both Ant-Man movies. As it is, Ant-Man and the Wasp is fun and I found myself enjoying it a great deal. The action scenes are where Ant-Man and the Wasp really shine. There are so many creative ideas that are played within these scenes. Director Peyton Reed and the rest of the crew really do a great job of playing around with size in the midst of these action scenes. They are able to get across the idea of scale as they pull into a perspective that feels big and then cut out reveal the actual size which makes for wonderful comedic moments. This is an area where Ant-Man always succeeds.
By the end of the movie, I realized that Ant-Man and the Wasp set up some great possibilities for the future. A lot of screenwriters and filmmakers have shown they don’t really know how to handle set up that well (then again I also think some critics and reviewers use the word setup as a dirty word) but Ant-Man and the Wasp seemingly sets up future movie possibilities without feeling like its sole existence was to do that. I’m not just talking about the end credits scene either (which is a fantastic end credits scene by the way).
Ant-Man and the Wasp is overall really fast-paced, humorous fun. The lead cast is all well-chosen, the movie is consistently funny and there are loads of creative action scenes. Ant-Man and the Wasp does, however, lack the strong writing and character depth that the top tier of Marvel movies has. With far too much exposition, Ant-Man and Wasp is fun but it won’t join the ranks of better Marvel films like the Captain America, Black Panther or even Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It is still better than some of the weakest outings as well. Ant-Man and the Wasp works just well enough to feel like a worthwhile time and solid addition to the Marvel Universe.