As the last MCU movie of 2018, Ant-Man and The Wasp had to keep us full until Captain Marvel’s release early next year. But has it filled us? Or merely bloated us?
Peyton Reed returned for the second installment, and you can tell. The tone of the film feels very much the same as the first one, in keeping with the humour of Paul Rudd and the movie focusing on some form of mission. First film was a heist mission. This mission? A rescue mission. To save Michelle Pfeiffer. I mean Janet Van Dyne...but we just see her as Michelle Pfeiffer.
Yes the film’s plot follows Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne as they attempt to save Janet from The Quantum Realm. We have merely glimpsed the trippy word of the realm in the first Ant-Man and also Doctor Strange in fact.
Douglas plays his character how you’d expect: different from his usual portrayals, but slightly wooden. From what I can see, aside from his slight jabs about the sexual tension between his daughter and Scott Lang, we could only expand on Douglas’ portrayal one way. How? By having him somehow get a prequel where we see a young Hank Pym (de-aging technology is all the go nowadays, kids).
Lilly’s performance? Well she gets a lot more to do! Also she isn’t as much of a stone hearted misery guts like she was in he first film (yeah that’s right, misery guts, I went there!). Lilly actually seems to have a lot of fun this time round. Suiting up as The Wasp, a title previously held by her mother, Lilly’s Hope gets to seriously kick ass and in my opinion completely shadow the supposed lead character.
Speaking of the lead character, what were we thinking of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang this time round? For me, Rudd is still on top form, and the fact he apparently weighed in on a lot of the dialogue just makes it even better. The subplot of Lang being under house arrest since the events of Civil War is a fun one. Not only does it add an effective and realistic link to his part in the Cap threequel, but it gives the character some fun running around during the film. From entertaining his daughter through made up heists consisting of crawling through cardboard, to having to keep the FBI from knowing he is out of the house now and again saving the day, it gives Lang a grounded subplot. It helps to keep Lang’s family story running as that plot connects to him seeing his daughter and extended family.
Now, it’s time for the villains. Ghost, played by Game of Thrones’ Hannah John-Kamen, was an interesting villain. Not only the second female villain of the MCU (hurrah!) but also a sympathetic character. Through an experiment gone wrong (was Bruce Banner there by any chance? BUUURN!) the character is burdened with the ability to phase through solid objects, to the point of being unable to control it and leading her health to deteriorate. Her hunger to be normal and survive ties into Janet Van Dyne and The Quantum Realm, leading her onto a collision course with Scott, Hank and Hope. In my opinion, a great way to tie the stories together and keep the race to the finish line between heroes and villains alive.
There is also the added casting of Laurence Fishburne as Ben Foster, AKA the superhero Goliath in the comics, although in this film, a side villain and former work rival of Hank Pym. I won’t lie to you, I knew that Foster would be revealed as a villain here. Ghost is an effective villain with cool powers, almost a mirror image to The Wasp. How do you fully complete that mirroring? Give her what The Wasp has to guide her; an older figure to guide her? Who else is going to do that in this film other than Hank Pym’s former colleague/rival.
Other supporting characters that featured were of course Lang’s group lead by Michael Céna’s quick talking Luiz. Luiz, like in the first film, is as hysterical as you can get without even trying! David Dastmalchian and Tip ‘T.I’ Harris are good fun, but Céna is the ultimate comic relief. Thankfully we didn’t get bogged down in his interesting take on storytelling, only getting one montage of the sort that was approriate. Unfortunately, it felt forced in how it was done. Oh, and Walter Boggins plays Sonny Burch (a lesser known Iron Man villain) and is pretty forgotten unless you remember that Giant Man scene. Or should I say ‘SEAne’ (thank you, I’m here all week, please love me).
I would love to speak about how Pfeiffer’s character fits in when we eventually meet her, but she doesn’t do very much except stand there and look happy to see people. It is more the idea and sort of myth of the character that is most effective. The talking about her, even the scene with Scott being taken over by her for a small moment. Those bits were fun and exciting. When she is saved? There isn’t much to say, but I do hope for Janet Van Dyne to have a lot to do in future films.
In terms of where the film leaves off, leaving us waiting (chronologically without Captain Marvel) for the events of Avengers: The One That’s Still Unnamed, there’s one crucial bit. One big bit. The post-credits scene features what most of us expected...people disappearing thanks to the infinity snap. Whilst Scott is in The Quantum Realm supposedly researching and studying it, with Hank, Janet and Hope on the other end in our world to pull him back, the latter three disappear. This leaves Lang in a bit of a sticky situation. How does this lead into the next film? Well, it’s a realm. There’s supposed to be a time travel element to the next Avengers. My say? Lang will escape and mention he did it through some kind of wormhole, Stark’s ears will prick up and utilize it to go back and collect the infinity stones before Cable, I MEAN THANOS, can get them.
On the whole, it was what the MCU needed. Infinity War left us feeling murky and darkened. This thrill ride helped us smile again while we wait until May. The cast is solid, the supporting cast may have felt slightly over crowded but it was painless all the same. This was a rescue mission type of film and it did well and rescuing Scott Lang’s future in the MCU. 8/10 from this reviewer! Let’s hope Reed stays on for a potential third installment and keeps the fun momentum of Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne going.