“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is in the unlikely position of being the next Marvel Studios film released after “Avengers: Infinity War,” which was perhaps the darkest and most unsettling movie in the company’s 10-year reign.
So how do you follow up the most-anticipated Marvel Studios movie event ever, one in which the biggest superhero movie bad guy of all time snaps away half of existence? You laugh a little. Actually, you laugh a lot.
Instead of trying out new tricks, returning director Peyton Reed sticks to what works: Paul Rudd’s comedic chemistry as Scott Lang with reluctant father figure Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and love-interest Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly).
Together, they are trying to save the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) who shrank down to a subatomic size to save the world but never came back, and they’re also fending off evildoers trying to steal the advanced tech that allows them to shrink — and also turn into giants.
The movie stays on course and delivers the laugh-a-minute fun ride you expect it to be — far from serious, but still enjoyable. There’s a dash of intensity that comes from the film’s villain, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who can phase through anything but fights to control that ability. But you really go to an “Ant-Man” film for the goofiness, of which there is plenty with Rudd in the titular role.
Though all Marvel Studios films are sprinkled with humor — it’s the key, consistent ingredient that has made the last decade so successful for them at the box office — “Ant-Man and the Wasp” isn’t sprinkled with funny lines so much as sprayed all over by them. There’s a laugh at every corner with Rudd leading the way. His returning supporting cast of goofballs (Michael Peña, T.I. “Tip” Harris and David Dastmalchian) are back as well, and Randall Park provides laughs as a federal agent who knows Rudd is still Ant-Man-ing while he’s on house arrest but can’t prove it.
There are also adorable moments of parenthood between Rudd and Abby Ryder Fortson (who plays Ant-Man’s daughter, Cassie). If there are any parents out there looking for an in to introduce their young daughters to the MCU, the “Ant-Man” franchise is a good place to start.
As for the typical Marvel hero swag that every MCU film has? Lilly as the Wasp fulfills that role. Equipped with wrist-blasters and wings, she’s the hard-to-take-down heroine whose defense is a good offense. She’s given the best action scenes and is the true leader of this bug-themed team, while Rudd spends most of the film taking a beating (or dealing with seagulls that keep eating the flying ants he tries to summon) for laughs.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” isn’t an all-time MCU flick, nor is it designed to create that type of debate — that was “Infinity War’s” purpose. This film is two hours of predictable fun and laughs. Most of the fans who will flock to see it are the ones who had fun with the first iteration back in 2015. This sequel isn’t going out of its way to try to be better than the original, but rather gives you more of what worked the first time. That’s not a bad thing. Accept this film for what it is — and don’t expect it to be more than that — and you’ll have a good time.
Oh, and as you already know, this is a Marvel Studios film, so stay until the very end. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” makes up for two hours of predictability by giving one shocker of a post-credit scene.