‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Review

Funny, small, and self-contained: perfectly disposable pop culture

Ant-Man and the Wasp

I'm not entirely sure I could recall for you the plot of the first Ant-Man film. There was something about a thief played by Paul Rudd stealing a suit that makes him small from a scientist played by Michael Douglas who had a daughter played by Evangeline Lilly and also the aforementioned characters wanted to stop Michael Douglas's work from falling into the hands of the congressman from House of Cards, who was evil because capitalism.

And that's fine! Not every comic book film needs to be a mega-event with enormous stakes that have wide-ranging ramifications for the world in which the characters exist. Not every action-adventure flick needs to be a commentary upon our times. Not everything has to be "memorable" or "interesting after the fact." The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, by its nature, disposable and not particularly suitable for multiple viewings. Ant-Man was simply the purest distillation of that ethos. There's something refreshing about these films being as inconsequential as their source material.

Ant-Man and the Wasp marks the return of Scott Lang (Rudd), who has been confined to house arrest for taking part in the climactic superhero battle in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. He's just a few days away from being released when a psychic transmission from the, ah, quantum realm (trippy subatomic space, basically?) spurs him to get in touch with Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) and Pym's daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Lilly). The gang has to head into the quantum realm to rescue Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has been stuck in the micro-verse for decades.

To rescue her, they'll need a doohickey owned by the delightfully named southern dandy, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), and have to fend off attacks from Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a one-time SHIELD hit-woman whose body has been destabilized by quantum particles, or something. She can walk through walls and put hands through bodies and do all sorts of neat stuff.

There is action aplenty, with Hope donning the Wasp costume, which is basically like the Ant-Man costume but with wings and laser blasters that go pew-pew-pew. Director Peyton Reed has fun with scale, shrinking cars to Hot Wheels-sized autos and blowing them back up again as the heroes and villains race through San Francisco. Like its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp features a sort of faux-adventurousness in its action sequences: It sticks to the standard MCU beat (you better believe there's a black SUV that's going to flip during a high-speed chase and there's no shortage of acrobatic fist fights) but does so in ways that emphasize the special powers of Ant-Man. The whole thing contributes to Marvel's patented brand of familiar originality. All these movies are basically identical, stylistically, but each also has a patina of creativity that blinds viewers to the fact that they're seeing the same thing over and over again.

Michael Peña provides expert comic relief as Lang's buddy and business partner, Luis. Ditto Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays Lang's daughter, Cassie. The whole thing is zippy and fun and more or less unmemorable. I heartily recommend it if you're looking for a mid-summer diversion. Make sure to stick around for the mid-credits scene! Movie ain't over 'til you've sat through ten minutes of credits waiting for a gag or two.