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When the first Ant-Man film was released in 2015, I was excited. Hank Pym was one of my favorite comic characters and his run as Ant-Man was enjoyable. Then when I saw the movie, safe to say I was pretty disappointed considering that Ant-Man was the Scott Lang version and as a whole the movie wasn't very good. Not to mention I'm not a big fan of Paul Rudd, so in general I wasn't too keen on a sequel. Sure enough, we got it this year shortly after the release of the highly successful Avengers: Infinity War. I really had no interest in this movie—in fact, I never even saw it in theaters. With the addition of Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp, I figured I should at least give it a chance. I have mixed feelings on this film overall, but it carries much more weight than I ever thought it would.
In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War (2016), Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man is placed under house arrest after violating the Sokovia Accords when he helped Cap during that whole airport fight in Germany. His sentence is winding down and he and Luis (Michael Peña) are closing in on a big business deal. That is when everything gets flipped on its head. Scott has a vision courtesy of Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has been stuck in the Quantum Realm for decades. After this vision he gets a hold of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne who then kidnap him to use his head to communicate with Janet, who they hope to retrieve using a Quantum Tunnel. Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) wants the lab for... some reason? So then he becomes a minor villain alongside Ghost/Ava Starr (Hannah John-Kamen) who needs the lab in order to use Janet as a method of fixing her weird molecular disease that causes her to phase in and out of a solid state. Bill Foster (Lawrence Fishburne) who is a former colleague of Pym decides to help Ghost due to their shared dislike for Pym. They all play monkey in the middle with the lab for a while before Hank, Scott and Hope get it back and retrieve Janet from the Quantum Realm. Janet (who now has magical abilities due to her time trapped) heals Ghost and Hank and Bill reconcile after years of bad blood. Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), who tried to bust Scott for breaking his sentence, throughout the movie is unable to do so and in the end sets Scott free of his ankle bracelet. Now Scott and Hope are free to fall in love and they all lived happily ever after.
And then Thanos snapped his fingers.
With half of the universe disappearing due to Thanos' collection of all 6 Infinity Stones, Scott is now stuck in the Quantum Realm after Janet, Hank, and Hope get "dusted" in the post-credits scene. So when I said in the title that this movie was a setup for much bigger things, now you know what I mean. Yes we all wondered where Ant-Man was during Infinity War as it was, but now it has become so much more than that. It has already been confirmed by Michael Douglas that the Quantum Realm will play a vital role in the still unnamed Avengers 4 film set to release this coming May. How Earth's mightiest heroes will find use for it is another story that can only be left up to speculation at this juncture. For now we'll just talk about this film while it is still the most recent piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so let's get to it.
My biggest issue with this movie is that Marvel created a villain in the image of some of its most recent ones, only much weaker. Allow me to elaborate, take Erik Killmonger from this year's Black Panther for example. A very strong character who cannot particularly be defined as a villain due to morally ambiguous motives. The same can be said for Avengers: Infinity War's Thanos or even Thor: Ragnarok's Hela, who in their own right were characters that stood on their own and made the audiences actually like them in all of their evilness. Ghost however does not belong in that conversation. A decent character? Yes, but one that could have been so much better had she felt like a legitimate threat. Throughout the movie, the most development was her backstory explaining why she needs Janet. Not to say her reasoning wasn't rational, but her methodology was plain lazy. Why does she need to be evil? Can't she just ask Hank, who has the same motivation, to help her? The character as a whole was missing something and in my opinion she broke Marvel's streak of truly great villains. Apart from her specifically, personally I was just kinda "eh" on the first Ant-Man and that didn't really change much for the sequel. It was a good movie don't get me wrong, but I feel the character and the story behind it as a whole are sorta lagging in comparison to some other characters. Ant-Man hasn't proven to me he belongs with the likes of Captain America or Iron Man, characters with strong personalities and characters arcs with clear evolution to them. He falls in limbo with Spiderman and Black Panther for me, great characters who truly haven't done a lot as far as deep, meaningful character development goes. The story just feels small (pun intended) and out of place, especially considering it follows Infinity War, which was just a huge misstep on the part of Marvel Studios if you ask me. It makes sense and I understand why it's placed where it is, but I feel it really wasn't strong enough story-wise to live up to its placement.
This film does do some things right and I'm more than happy to talk about them after I just kinda took a dump on most of it. For one, I feel this movie does a great job pulling emotion out of viewers. Seeing Janet return with Hank and reunite with their daughter was a true hallmark moment in the film. It made you feel good yet almost shed a tear at the same time, especially after seeing all of the flashback sequences involving Hope and Janet that really built up to this moment. Also one of my favorite things about both of these films is the dynamic between Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and Scott. The two of them just click whenever they're on screen together and sell the father/daughter relationship like they truly are father and daughter. On a slight fanboy note, seeing Lawrence Fishburne added to the cast was cool enough, but I lost it when I found out he was cast as Bill Foster AKA Goliath! I'm a little disappointed that we never saw him wear the suit, but I'm just happy we have him in the MCU continuity. Maybe next time, never say never right? Pacing was also pretty good in this film and the visuals were unique yet beautiful to say the least. The comedy element was present cause for whatever reason poorly timed humor is in every MCU movie, but for the most part it worked in this go around. Although I will say I didn't find Luis as funny in this film. I know the internet will destroy me for that but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. He was funnier in Ant-Man if you ask me, but all in all he alongside the rest of the cast put in some great performances here.
Though I have my gripes, I know it has the Marvel logo on it so everyone went to see it and it made a ton of money. So while it wasn't their best effort, I doubt Disney isn't complaining nearly as much as I am. All in all I give this one a 6 out of 10—it was a fine film but much like the first it wasn't anything spectacular to me. Although I do recognize it's now larger importance in the future of the MCU going forward.
(Trailer Courtesy of Disney)