Has everyone recovered from Infinity War yet? No? Us neither. Back in April, comic-book fans the world over were left in utter shock and disarray following the events of the third Avengers film, still today wondering what it all means. Has Thanos truly won the day when all is said and done? There may still be those out there who haven’t seen the movie quite yet (though $2billion at the box office suggests most have) so we won’t go into too much detail but suffice to say the wait for the follow-up film is killing us already and please Marvel – make it stop! Thankfully, filling the void for the MCU before 2019’s gigantic trifecta of Avengers 4, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Captain Marvel’s long-awaited debut, is their smallest hero of all. Everyone together, now: Ants….. Ants….. Ant-Man!
In amongst all of the crazy theories and fan predictions circling the internet right now about the how what, why and when of the future of the MCU, one stands out above all others: just where the hell was Ant-Man/Scott Lang whilst the Purple Big-Bad was up to no good? Sitting at home with his feet up, it seems. Sounds a little more relaxed than it is in actuality, for Lang has been under house arrest for a couple of years, cut off from his stint as the tiny hero due to his dalliance with Captain America and the little event known as Civil War. He may have been broken out, eventually, by Steve Rogers but the Sokovia Accords have caught up with him – as well as Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who have been on the run themselves ever since those fateful few hours on that airport’s concourse, shelving their plans to try and rescue Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm. But such things won’t keep a good Ant, or indeed Wasp, down and with some “ghostly” goings on around them, it isn’t long until they are reunited, although it’s all very strained.
Released in 2015, the first Ant-Man had a few teething problems after original writers/director Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish left the process during pre-production, to be replaced by Peyton Reed who steadied the ship and brought a fun, exciting film to our screens in amongst the slowly tensing relationships further afield. In a somewhat strategic move, Marvel has mirrored said strategy with the release of Ant-Man & The Wasp to help lighten the mood somewhat after the devastation of Infinity War and just as it did then, it does the trick again here with another wonderfully inventive adventure that while might be lacking in the narrative complexities of a Winter Soldier, is up there with Guardians and Thor: Ragnarok as the MCU’s best comic-book frivolities.
Reed and his filmmaking team have hit their stride here, expanding their minds to whole new levels as they explore both the real world and the possibilities of the Quantum Realm, basking in the joy of the film’s effervescence and “colour”. Indeed, they bring some subtle new touches to proceedings about family (the reuniting of the van Dynes), parenthood (Scott and his daughter) and the difficulties in forgiveness and letting go, with the resulting mixture serving up a superbly realised superhero romp. Sure, the lack of a true antagonist here may leave some feeling a little short-changed – Hannah John Kamen‘s Ghost is more misunderstood than ravenous or murderous, while Walter Goggins‘ shady businessman never really registers – but the resulting mixture serves up a superbly realised superhero romp.
Rudd, as ever, is on terrific form (when isn’t he?) and he too has hit his stride as Lang with this his third go-around, ably supported again by the hilarious trifecta of Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and Tip “T.I.” Harris, all of whom bring some great zingers, as does Randall Park as Lang’s house-arrest officer. Douglas, Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne bring their dynamic wisdom to the fore just as you would expect, but it’s Lilly who is the film’s ace-in-the-hole, fully embracing her game-changing role as The Wasp and is absolute dynamite throughout, with one sequence noting Lang’s size “issues” one of the film’s most brilliantly orchestrated and funniest sequences.
And what of Infinity War? Well, Ant-Man & The Wasp is its own entity, navigating a space in-between Phase Three’s culminating chapters and standing on its own two 65-feet, erm, feet. Of course, it’s all connected, but that’s all up for discovery – as it is, this one continues the Marvel trend for great sequels and with endless whimsy and exuberance, it’s another home-run for the studio. Just don’t get too excited and snap your fingers.
Scott J.Davies | [rating=4]
Action, Adventure | USA, 2018 | 12A | 3rd August 2018 (UK) | Marvel Entertainment | Dir.Peyton Reed |Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins,