2015’s Ant-Man was one of Marvel’s lighter fares, following hot on the heels of the smash hit sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man was a considerably more fun film, without the usual links to other marvel films – although there were still references to the greater Marvel universe. The sequel plays in very much the same vein, following not too long after the biggest marvel film yet in Infinity War, which was considerably darker than many other marvel films. Therefore, Ant-Man and the Wasp has to address this somewhat, as well as succeeding as a film in its own right.
It’s probably the perfect film to follow on from Infinity War. Whilst perhaps not linking to that film as much as fans would have hoped, this film is far more closely linked to other Marvel pictures with a heavy emphasis placed on the aftermath of the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The Sokovia Accords introduced in that film play a key role in driving forward the events of this film, with both Michael Douglas’ original Ant-Man and title character Wasp (Evangeline Lily) on the run from the FBI following the accords and Ant-Man’s escapes at Berlin Airport in the superhero brawl. While dealing with this, the film also sees the heroes trying to find a way to rescue Hank’s wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) who appears to be alive in the Quantum Realm.
Many of the strengths of this film come from the changing sizes of the characters during fight scenes – particularly those featuring Wasp, who more than merits joint-billing and will hopefully become an integral part of Marvel’s roster going forwards with many actors contracts running out. Of particular note is a car chase on the streets of San Francisco, an ode to the classic chase in Bullit; whilst being an innovative sequence in its own right, it’s a thrilling piece of cinema and is one of Marvel’s best action set-pieces in the 10th year of its Cinematic Universe.
“Despite not being one of Marvel’s finest, it is by no means its worst”
The film perhaps falls flat in the humour department, with more forced gags than in the first film, perhaps lacking the Edgar Wright moments that did make it into the first one. Paul Rudd is, as always, magnetic on screen, and has great chemistry with Douglas and Lily; however the decision to make him appear more clumsy in this sequel is perhaps at odds with how he has been portrayed up to this point. There is a lack of Michael Peña’s Luis and the other members of Scott Lang’s gang from the first film, who really only appear in a handful of cameos. I also felt Lawrence Fishburne’s role was perhaps wasted, especially for an actor of his talents.
In keeping with Marvel’s villain problem, the two antagonists in this film both feel underdeveloped. While not having the goal of ending the world, they are somewhat lacking in character, especially compared to the two villains of the other Marvel films in 2018 – Black Panther’s Killmonger and Infinity War’s Thanos – both of whom rank among Marvel’s finest villains.
Overall Ant-Man and the Wasp is an enjoyable flick. Despite not being one of Marvel’s finest, it is by no means its worst; the links to the cinematic universe feel natural, and not as forced as in other films. The action sequences are thoroughly entertaining and well-choreographed, and the majority of the cast is impressive. We could perhaps have seen more of Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale, given their roles in the first film. The film’s post-credit scene is a standout, linking to a moment in Infinity War and teasing Ant-Man’s potential importance in the untitled Avengers 4. It seems likely that both Ant-Man and the Wasp will continue to be important presences in these films, whether in their own or (as it seems) a growing trend of feeding characters into other franchises.