Fun is the best word to describe Marvel’s new addition, Ant-Man and The Wasp. This light-hearted comedy is the perfect follow-up to the dark, and a bit depressing Avengers: Infinity War. In a summer of dramas or mature comedies, this is the live-action family film we have all been waiting for.
We learn from the beginning of the film that Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has been under house arrest for helping Captain America during Captain America: Civil War, which feels like a lifetime ago in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During this time he has developed his security business with his partner Luis (Michael Peña) and made up on lost time with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). But before he can get too cozy, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne aka The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) confront him with a new mission (huge spoiler) and well conflict ensues.
The real winners of the film are the actors and there amazing comedic performances, which drive a rather average story. Paul Rudd is an amazing leading-man actor who charismatically drives the film with balanced comedic timing and at times realistic dramatic performance. Outside of Chris Pratt (another Marvel superhero) very few leading-man actors are simply hilarious and fun to watch. The film often feels like a mash up of a Marvel film and your typical Paul Rudd comedy.
Evangeline Lilly plays the perfect “straight-man” to Paul Rudd’s humor and is the opposite of this dynamic duo. As the film progresses we see a subtle yet strong growth in their relationship as “friends” but also has superheroes. Veteran actor, Michael Douglas, provides faultless, deadpan jokes that are timed and delivered in foil to the quick quips from Rudd. Michael Peña and Randall Park, who plays Jimmy Woo an insecure FBI agent, add to the cacophony of humor with styles that are different than Rudd and Douglass. Coupled with creepy performances by antagonists Walton Goggins as gangster Sonny Burch and Hannah John-Kamen as fantastical villain Ghost, you have an ensemble that rivals the Avengers films.
The story is simple and easy to follow. Not too many additional storylines intertwined in. The CGI is decent but the giant CGI ants feel a bit hokey at times, but that is the overall feel of the film. As a complete opposite to Avengers: Infinity War, the villains do not play as much of a role in the film or even to the cinematic universe. My complaint would be I wish we could have had more character development from them, because both Goggins and John-Kamen gave great performances.
The hidden beauty of Ant-Man and The Wasp is the fact that it is a standalone Marvel film. It seems like all of the past year’s Marvel films were highly intertwined and you might as well stay home if you did not see the previous one before venturing out to witness the new addition to the canon. It feels like Marvel Studios decided to take a “vacation” themselves and step back from their “universe building” and just make a fun film that everyone can enjoy. Sure, it would be helpful if you saw Captain America: Winter Soldier and the first Ant-Man film, but in all honesty you really do not have to.
One of Marvel’s strengths is they make genre films that are disguised as superhero films. The Guardians of the Galaxy films are space Westerns, the Avengers films are ensemble films from the Golden Age of Cinema, and Captain America: Winter Soldier was a revenge film. Ant-Man and The Wasp is Marvel’s true sci-fi fantasy film. The science in the film makes absolutely no sense. I still cannot figure out how Ant-Man can seemingly grow and shrink and even summon ants, but guess what? It does not matter. It is fantasy!
If Marvel would have make another dark, superhero film, then they would have followed down the path of Warner Brothers/DC with only dark films and no one wants that. Seriously, DC needs to take a break and regroup. But if you are looking for a fun film to enjoy air conditioning and salty popcorn with, without having to see any “prequels” then I cannot recommend Ant-Man and The Wasp enough.