It’s been a clean sweep this year for superhero movies (so don’t you fuck this up Venom, that goes double for you too Aquaman) but surely Ant-Man & The Wasp has the greatest challenge of the lot, having the unenviable task to follow up Marvel’s devastating one-two punch of Black Panther and Infinity War. Hell, following up Infinity War’s ending alone is not a job I’d wish on ANYONE but it’s not like the Ant-Man franchise hasn’t stared adversity in the face before…
The first Ant-Man, an amusing oddity in the Avengers pantheon, was left floating in it’s own private Quantum Realm when original director Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios parted ways. Yes Man director Peyton Reed dived into the breach and the resulting superhero/heist/comedy, despite being a tad uneven, ended up being a better experience than the monstrous sized Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
So now, with a more than capable partner in Hope Van Dyne’s hopelessly badass and long overdue Wasp, and with no behind the scenes worries to hamper production, how does Marvel’s 20th production fare against the might of Thanos’ will or the honour of Wakanda?
Honestly? It doesn’t even bother. Two films of such size and scale? Why would It? So, much like it’s Pym Particle powered heroes, the movie’s solution to such a huge obstacle is to go small… and fun.
It’s been two years since Civil War ravaged the Avengers and for most of that time Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been moping around on house arrest. Estranged from original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) it seems his size-shifting hero days are at an end until a dream of Hank’s wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), trapped for decades in the Quantum Realm forces a truce. However superhuman saboteur The Ghost is desperately searching for a cure for her out of control phasing powers and Janet Pym may be the answer.
The secret to A-MATW is simplicity. There’s no alien invasion, no kingdom to protect, it’s not trying to save the world. It doesn’t want to change it either, it just wants you to have fun with it’s charismatic leads and it’s funky action. It’s a much needed breath of levity after Infinity War’s has dropping ending and some may find it too light weight after The Snap Heard Round The Universe. Others, however, will have a hoot. Free of behind the scenes complications, director Reed is free to invest all his energy into creating wild and bizarre, size based craziness which give the movie a wacky, anything goes feel. Be it Scott infiltrating a school while the size of a toddler or a truly stonking climatic car chase where EVERYTHING is changing size, or even the sight of an ant playing the drums, Ant-Man has ironically, never felt bigger. And the much hyped debut of The Wasp proper? Worth every penny as she punches, kicks and generally decimates every villain within arms reach. But once again, it’s the heart of the characters that ties everything together, as the numerous different family relationships (Scott and his daughter Cassie is still a winner) make the chaos mean something more than just noise and laughs. It’s also refreshing for a sequel to not make tons of call backs to it’s previous movie but rest assured, Michael Penã’s Luis does do a monologue.
And does any of the famed post credit stings refer to the bigger picture?
Rest assured, the road to Avengers 4 starts here.