Ant-Man and The Wasp
Marvel Studios is back again with another installment from Ant-Man. If you're familiar with the MCU, you probably know these movies are often not in chronological order. Ant-Man and the Wasp picks up a couple years after Captain America: Civil War, but before The Avengers: Infinity War. We certainly find out why this crew wasn't involved in the battle against Thanos. (You really should have seen the other films to fully appreciate the full history, but any newcomers should at a minimum see the first Ant-Man and Infinity War before diving into this sequel.)
We find Scott Lang who was unfortunately apprehended and has been under house arrest for two years after his involvement in the events of Civil War violated the Sokovia Accords. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are also back and in hiding from the FBI. They have been busy building a quantum tunnel to attempt to locate the family matriarch Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) who was lost going sub-atomic 30 years ago after learning it's possible from Scott in the first film. Trouble arises as two parties want to get their hands on the technology first- black market criminal Sonny Burch and the mysterious Ghost. All of this leads Scott to a fateful decision of whether to stick with his reformed life, and the last few days of his house arrest, or risk it all and suit back up as Ant-Man.
This movie was such a nice change of pace from the heaviness that was Infinity War. All the elements that made the first a hit were included. Paul Rudd has to be one of the most likable, charming men in Hollywood and I love what he brings to the character of Ant-Man. His authenticity in his comedy makes Ant-Man incredibly endearing. He has a few truly stand out moments (one as an entirely different character!) Evangeline Lilly is a formidable co-star of this film taking the action scenes up a notch. Wasp upstages Ant-Man here and makes no apologies for it. She's the perfect counterpart. The chemistry and dynamic between the leads make this iteration of the story better than the first for me.
The cast continues to be one of my favorite ensembles of any of the solo superhero films. Ant-Man and the Wasp's central theme focuses on relationships, both in family and "chosen" families. Scott's adorable relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forsten) is only strengthened, setting up for a possible future superhero? ;) Hope and Hank have a strong bond deepened by their mission to save Janet. Lovable sidekick and fellow ex-con Luis (Michael Peña) brings the funny throughout alongside Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). We even see Scott's relationships with ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer*) and her new fiancé Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) improve as they figure out how to all be there for Cassie. Shout out to Randall Park for some solid comedic moments as FBI Agent Woo.
Newcomers to the story Ghost/Ava (Hannah John-Kamen) and Hank's former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) were not only a welcomed addition, but had unique character arcs. There may have been too many villains at times between these two, Burch and his minions and the FBI, but it was forgivable for me as Ghost's storyline developed enough for the payoff.
Overall, the entire cast managed to balance the classic Marvel comedy we've come to know and love with the deep, emotional moments beautifully. They completely recognize their cheesiness and just own it. I'm really pleased with this latest entry into the MCU franchise. It's a perfect respite from the emotional stress we all felt with Infinity War and reminds us why we fell for these Marvel movies in the first place. Don't sleep on this one!
Brit's pro tip: You'll definitely want to stay for the first bonus scene in the credits... you can take or leave the second one after the credits. And keep an eye out for Stan Lee's cameo, it's one of his better ones!
*Judy Greer is one of the most underrated character actors of our generation, if I do say so myself.