This week sees the release of another sequel under the Marvel brand. This is a brand that preemptively screams success now, but there was a point in time when I assumed Ant Man was going to be Marvel’s first flop. If you’d like see my very mistaken foreshadowing you can read it here. This is why my review for the movie’s sequel will also serve as a retraction from when I thought it was in danger.
Not only did I eat my words with that first Ant-Man movie, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang also proved to be an amazing team player in Captain America: Civil War. On this third outing, he continues to shine even when he’s sometimes upstaged by his new teammate Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man.
Make no mistake, the sporadic upstaging from the Wasp is one of the highlights of this movie. I’ve been a fan of Evangeline Lilly’s since her days in Lost. Throughout the movie I had a constant thought about her: This character needs to lead the Avengers. She’s stoic, stern, and just the right amount of snarky to deal with a large ensamble of super heroes. She successfully deals with Lang’s lacking experience, but still works beside him to get a job done well.
Which leads me to Paul Rudd’s performance... He hasn’t disappointed in the comedic chops or the charm that make this former thief a compelling lead. Curiously, my favorite part of his character in this movie is when he stopped to be a father. Which is an interesting counterbalance because my favorite parts of Hope’s was when she was a super hero. As a dad, Scott simply was relatable and caring. Cassie, his daughter and the future Stature, was a also one of my favorite elements of the movie. Her role, while minor, added so much more to why you felt for Scott and his need to not cause more trouble for the sake of keeping his unconventional family.
Speaking of unconventional family; Michael Peña’s Luis was definitely my favorite part of this movie. My uncle Peña (not actual uncle; we just share the same last name) has one of the best scenes in the whole movie. Luis uses his speaking abilities to catch everybody up on the story so far. I love that scene so much, I wish he was that YouTuber who would catch viewers up on ten years of Marvel films. I know his character’s not based on anyone specific from the comics, but “give this man a suit!” I maintain my head cannon where I ship Luis and Kat Dennings’s Darcy from the Thor movies.
Of course, this movie was not perfect. While I did love Michelle Pfeiffer’s role in Hope and Hank’s storyline, Janet Van Dyne was somewhat of a lackluster. The casting was perfect, she appropriately acted in her fleeting scenes, and there’s surprises about her that I found interesting. Unfortunately, there’s a a scene thrown in there for laughs where someone else plays the character instead of Pfeiffer, undercutting her already small doses. (No pun intended.)
Speaking of unnecessary, Walton Goggins and his addition to the story was a foil that added nothing. On the other hand, Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost played a necessary role that loosely tied to the overall story. Emphasis on the “loosely”. I did like how interesting she was visually with her powers and intentions, but her twist related to our heroes wasnt enough to add her to the list of memorable Marvel villains. She’s definitely no Loki or Killmonger, but she’s not as forgettable as Malekith or Mandarin. Although, the villains’ climax will be as memorable as that scene from Disney’s animated The Jungle Book where the animals chase each other and hand off Mowgli to each other.
Years ago I said that the lack of Edgar Wright, an aged Hank Pym, a “deceased” Janet Van Dyne, and messing with the villain’s backstory would mean Marvel’s undoing, but I was pleasantly surprised. Now, not only was I excitedly expectant of the sequel, but it delivered amazingly. The light tone and comedic elements of this movie were exactly what Marvel fans needed after the dread we felt when coming out of Avengers: Infinity War. Unlike the last Ant-Man movie, this one does tie heavily into the overall plot of the MCU and I can’t wait to see more. Only eight more months to go before the next installment.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is in theaters now.