“Ant-Man and the Wasp” Brings Comedy Back to the Marvel Universe

Barely two months on the heels of the record-shattering Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios has released the next MCU blockbuster. A breath of fresh air, Ant-Man and the Wasp returns to the roots of the MCU with a lighthearted and comedic adventure through the San Francisco Bay Area and the quantum realm.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is reminiscent of Spiderman: Homecoming in that while it tells its own story, it fits perfectly into the greater scheme of the Marvel universe. The beginning of the film finds Scott Lang under house arrest as a consequence of his actions in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Played with a perfect blend of awkward comedy and genuine sweetness by Paul Rudd, Scott has given up his mantle as Ant-Man for the sake of his ten-year-old daughter, Cassie… not to mention the prospect of twenty years in prison if he leaves his house before his two years are up. With just three days left in his sentence, enter: Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym, who have been on the run from the FBI ever since Lang’s impromptu trip to Germany. Finally having found a way to return to the quantum realm and retrieve Hope’s mother and Hank’s wife, Janet Van Dyne, they need Scott to help find her. So begins a superhero romp complete with old-fashioned betrayal, sweet and inspirational children, and a clever stop by Lombard Street.

The relatively simple storyline is brought to life by amazing acting. Evangeline Lilly is particularly superb as Hope Van Dyne as she takes on the mantle of the Wasp. Ever-capable and brilliant, the superhero always manages to prove her superiority to Ant-Man with a well-placed punch and sly quip. Shunted from the spotlight in the first Ant-Man when she was forced to train Scott to fight in her place, Hope more than makes up for it this time around – and never fails to remind Scott that she trained him, not the other way around. Other highlights of the cast are the antagonist, Ghost, played delightfully with equal parts rage and desperation by Hannah John-Kamen, and Michael Peña’s Luis, a returning character from Ant-Man who more than maintains his reputation as an absolutely hilarious crowd favorite.  

The MCU has often been criticized for having a “villain problem”, with people citing that while the heroes are usually complex, the villains often fall short. Recent Marvel movies have been proving this wrong on all counts, what with the applauded characters of Killmonger (Black Panther), Hela (Thor: Ragnarok), and Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War). Ghost, Ant-Man and the Wasp’s primary villain, continues this trend of compelling villains with her understandable motivation and genuinely conflicted personality.

The best part of the movie may very well be the comedy. With nearly every scene featuring hilarious one-liners, friendly banter between the two heroes, or even a quality insect pun, Ant-Man and the Wasp is truly delightful on every level. In this way, the film does a good job of reeling audiences’ minds away from the ending of Infinity War and back to a substantially happier place. However, it doesn’t quite go all the way. The movie itself is hilarious and fun, but the post-credit scene does the important job of bringing it back to the greater universe. While predictable, the scene was a punch in the gut with its grim tie-in to the world-altering events of Infinity War and it’s suggestions as to where Avengers 4 will take the franchise next. There’s a tradition in Marvel movies to close out with a statement that the heroes will return, but this movie imparts the sentiment with a rather cruel twist. Trust me when I say that you’ll know it when you see it.

Perhaps the most-noted accomplishment of Ant-Man and the Wasp is its status as the first MCU movie with a female lead. Yes, really. Twenty (!) movies into their massively popular film franchise, Marvel has finally grasped the concept that not all superhero fans are male, and that not all Marvel superheroes are either. This is just the beginning of the victory, with Captain Marvel slated for release in March 2019. It’s about time that Marvel starts taking advantage of the fantastic actresses and female superheroes at their disposal. If the sheer quality of Ant-Man and the Wasp is any proof, they should have done this a long, long time ago.