Essentially, the concept for Ant-Man and the Wasp was derived from the first Ant-Man feature.
In the last film, Scott Lang had to shrink down to microscopic size and unintentionally entered the Quantum Realm. His mentor, and the original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym originally theorized that there was no coming back from the Quantum Realm but that theory was shattered when Scott returned to full-size.
The last person to shrink between the molecules before Scott, was Janet Van Dyne, Hank Pym’s wife, Hope’s mother and the original Wasp and she was lost to the Quantum Realm and never returned but if Scott could come back, perhaps she could be saved.
The events of this film pick up two years after Civil War and perhaps days or weeks prior to the events of Infinity War. Ant-Man and the Wasp essentially answers the question of where Scott was while Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were clashing with the Mad Titan and what he was up to.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is essentially a race against time rescue flick. If Hank, Hope and Scott are to enter the Quantum Realm to rescue Janet, they have to evade the FBI, the ruthless Sonny Burch and a mysterious adversary with indirect ties to Hank’s past called The Ghost before the opportunity to save her expires.
This film isn’t the best work under Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it is enough to be likable. Payton Reed crawls the fine line between superhero feature and comedy well enough but the plot is crammed with so many subplots and characters, it’s hard to keep track of what is going on and the feel of the film shifts so uncomfortably between the tones of serious and funny.
I was also disappointed that this film walked away from the appealing heist film elements of the first film but I can see why because Reed wanted to allow Evangeline Lily’s character to flourish with a plot that is more connected to her character than Paul Rudd’s.
The writing team of Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari and star Paul Rudd do a good job at taking from previous features to shape this story while incorporating new and creative ideas into the texture of the film but I honestly feel that the film is more funny than anything. Outside of the comedy, I believe this film’s greatest strength is its ability to play to the strengths of its stars.
Paul Rudd is well into his comfort zone as Ant-Man and Evangeline Lily is finally allowed to grow into the badass audiences saw glimpses of in the first Ant-Man and she shines as the Wasp. Other strong performers include Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie and Michael Peña as Luis. Hannah John-Kamen isn’t the best villain Marvel has produced but she doesn’t do a bad job. The rest of the cast including Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Randall Park, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer and Michelle Pfieffer are either completely underutilized as characters or completely awkward to watch.
The visual effects are sharp, Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is good, Dan Lebental and Craig Wood’s editing is good, Christophe Beck’s music is rather generic compared to other Marvel scores, Shepherd Frankel’s production design is rather safe, the art direction is pretty solid, Gene Serdena and Christopher J. Wood’s set decoration is impressive here and there, and Louise Frogley’s costume design is good when you really get down to it.
I liked the first Ant-Man well enough and I can say that I liked Ant-Man and the Wasp well enough as well but when you compare it to the slate of films in the Phase Three lineup of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it doesn’t exactly measure up to the high caliber of work Marvel Studios has produced in the past.