Following on from the events of Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man and the Wasp revisits Scott Lang in the events following the aftermath of the Sokovia Accords. Having sided with a fugitive Captain America, Lang finds himself on house arrest, but he soon finds himself tangled up in Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne’s research into the Quantum Realm.
Ant-Man and the Wasp gives a little more attention to Hope van Dyne in an attempt to establish Wasp as a hero in the MCU, as well as fleshing out Hank Pym’s character and introducing Janet van Dyne into the franchise. However, in doing so, they force Paul Rudd’s Lang to take a back seat, and this is something that ultimately hurts the film: Rudd is easily the most charismatic star, and he’s all but relegated to a sidekick in the film.
However, with that said, developing Wasp into a more substantial character was entirely necessary, and Evangeline Lilly shares a solid chemistry with Rudd, which is quite possibly the film’s saving grace. Its plot is so mired in pseudo-science that by the end of the first act, I’d all but checked out, although exciting action sequences and a handful of funny moments from Paul Rudd and Michael Peña are enough to keep things interesting enough.
Now, personally, I find the MCU’s Hank Pym to be insufferably irritating, and his whiny presence throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp was incredibly grating. This, combined with the fact that the film’s plot is essentially his redemption arc, seriously hurts my enjoyment of this one, as I find Pym to be practically irredeemable.
If you’ve read the review of Ant-Man, you’ll know that one of my points of contention was its disregard for the rules it established, but in the sequel, these rules are simply scoffed at and sent on their merry way. Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem, but Ant-Man and the Wasp puts so much stock in its “science” – it’s literally the basis of the entire story – that it’s impossible not to feel as though the writers were a little lazy with it.
Where Lang’s role was a lessened for the sequel, so was his daughter Cassie’s, which again makes the character feel far less interesting – where in Ant-Man he was a crook with a heart of gold trying to protect his bond with his daughter, in Ant-Man and the Wasp he’s simply a man under house arrest who’s reluctantly dragged into a caper. This effectively severs the comparison between Lang and Pym – their roles as fathers were essentially their only common ground in Ant-Man – making for a film that simply feels as hollow as its quantum-phasing villain, Ghost.
Ant-Man and the Wasp does try to address some interesting themes, but it fails to really nail any of them down. Any examination of the scientist’s responsibility and accountability goes out of the window with Hank Pym, as he’s intent on being as arrogant and unpleasant as humanly possible, and that leaves no room for any deeper meaning in his actions.
Still, despite two-dimensional villains and a fairly convoluted plot, Ant-Man and the Wasp is capable of being entertaining throughout. It’s not anything overly exciting, but it does give Wasp a little more to do and does a sound job of setting up the Quantum Realm’s role in Avengers: Endgame.
Summary: A forgettable, hollow film with some solid action and occasional moments of fun, Ant-Man and the Wasp fails to capitalize on the chemistry between its lead actors or Rudd’s natural charisma.
Highlight: The giant ant playing video games was good for a laugh or two.