Published Jun 27, 2018Over the course of 20 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been gradually upping the ante, with an ever-growing team of superheroes battling to save the universe from destruction.
Ant-Man and the Wasp, on the other hand, is all about family. Here, Ant-Man (aka Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd) is on a quest to help fellow shrinking superhero the Wasp (Hope van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lilly) rescue her mother Janet (Michelle Pfieffer), who was lost in the quantum realm 30 years earlier. The snag is that Scott is on house arrest stemming from a prior burglary charge, while Hope and her scientist father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are on the run from the feds.
The comedic family moments are far and away the highlight of the film: Scott's relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) is heart-warming and positively adorable; his will-they-won't-they connection with Hope is compelling; and his friendship with his buddies is hilarious. In particular, his former prison cellmate and current business partner Luis (Michael Peña) is consistently the funniest part of the film. And while the action sequences aren't particularly memorable, there's still plenty of hilarity to be found in cars getting shrunk mid-chase, and super-sized Pez dispensers being used to bludgeon baddies. Director Peyton Reed is best known for his comedies (Down With Love, Bring It On) and it shows.
The film loses its way in the side plots, one of which features a former colleague Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) and a spooky villain named Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and another involving corrupt technology dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). These plots never quite intertwine like they should; combined with the mission to rescue mom, Ant-Man and the Wasp feels a bit like three underdeveloped stories playing all at the same time, none of them particularly tense or emotionally gripping. Even Goggins' delightfully sleazy performance can't save his character from feeling tacked-on and unnecessary.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is clearly intended as a stand-alone feature rather than a crucial part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe story. There are allusions to the MCU, but no significant crossovers and no notable cameos (minus a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance from Tim Heidecker). That's not necessarily a bad thing, although it perhaps explains the half-baked plot: this is ultimately a throwaway romp intended to tide us over until the big followup to Avengers: Infinity War. And as a wacky action-comedy that might as well have been called Honey, I Shrunk the Superheroes, it does a decent enough job.