*I’m assuming that most people who read this are Marvel fans who have seen it at this point, but just in case, there are spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War in this review.*
I’m not going to beat a dead horse about it, but it’s well established at this point that Avengers: Infinity War was a lot. Watching half the people I love in this universe dissolve into a pile of dust wasn’t exactly the way I imagined I’d be kicking off my summer. Ant-Man and the Wasp—which recreates the spirit of Ant-Man by fully embracing the sense of fun that goes along with being a comic book superhero movie—is the perfect choice to follow Infinity War. The movie is a much needed blast.
We got a quick rundown on Scott Lang’s situation from his singular mention in Infinity War. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott has been on voluntary house arrest for the past two years (that timing is important) and is relegated to entertaining himself and his daughter Cassie within the confines of his apartment. Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym are furious with Scott for sneaking off to fight alongside Captain America without saying anything and haven’t been in communication with him. When Scott has what he thinks is a dream about Hope’s mother and Hank’s wife Janet van Dyne, the father/daughter team realize it was actually a kind of vision and end their freeze out policy to sneak Scott away so he can help them find Janet in The Quantum Realm. If you don’t remember the intricacies of what happened to her from Ant-Man, you get a refresher here (Marvel once again shows off their Benjamin Button CGI technology on Michael Douglass and Michelle Pfeiffer): Hank and Janet went on a mission and in order to save the day Janet had to go “subatomic” and was seemingly lost forever in The Quantum Realm. Now in Ant-Man and the Wasp we learn that Hope and Hank have almost finished a machine they’ve been building to locate Janet in there and bring her back. These Marvel films are smaller in scale than some of the other ones and provides some needed balance. The climactic fight at the end of the first one took place in a little girl’s bedroom. The fate of the universe doesn’t have to hang in the balance for all of these movies.
This is the first Marvel movie that doesn’t really have a bad guy, there are simply various characters that get in our heroes’ way. A young woman named Ava, called Ghost, is certainly willing to do some morally unacceptable things to get what she wants, but her backstory reveals that we can’t really view her as a villain. Walton Goggins’ character Sonny Burch technically fills that role, but he doesn’t get a lot of screen time and honestly I kind of forgot what his motivation for getting involved in everything was almost as soon as the movie was over. Scott’s friends still help him in whatever ways they can, and Dave, Kurt, and most notably Michael Peña’s Luis are as funny in this one as they were in Ant-Man. Fans of Luis’ voice-over montage scenes from Ant-Man (aka everyone) will be very happy with a particular scene about halfway through the movie.
Ant-Man and the Wasp does tie in to the larger Marvel universe and has connections to the other films, and let’s leave it at that. But it also stands on its own, and brings something kind of beautiful to the Marvel universe. These are primarily comedies (I won’t give specifics to avoid spoilers but there’s a scene in this movie where Scott is, I’ll say, not quite himself, that Paul Rudd is particularly hysterical in) but I think the Ant-Man movies are actually really sweet and heartfelt, as corny as that sounds. One of the things that stood out to me the most in this movie was the way it portrayed father/daughter relationships. After starting off in a rocky place in the last one, Hope and Hank have formed a great team together, and Scott is such a good dad. That’s a Marvel rarity: Howard Stark was so bad that Tony was convinced he was unloved, Ego literally killed Peter Quill’s mother by giving her cancer, and two out of three of Odin’s children went on murderous psychotic rampages. Clearly something went wrong there, Allfather. It’s apparent that Scott loves his daughter more than anything and actually considers how his actions will affect her. Their scenes together made me a bit teary. More than anything though, I laughed a lot, and I don’t know a single person who couldn’t use that right now.