Fun Family Dysfunction in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’

by Eric Melin on July 3, 2018

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

First things first: Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t really a superhero movie at all.

Sure, it’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it features its two main characters regularly performing superhuman feats, but title characters Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are really just two normal people wearing hi-tech suits.

I know it seems like splitting hairs, but coming after the recent Avengers: Infinity War, where the fate of literally half of the entire universe was at stake, the micro stakes (literally and figuratively) of this film are refreshing. As directed by Peyton Reed, this genial, breezy sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man is essentially a tale about complicated family dynamics and lifelong grudges.

It’s bookended, of course, by those cataclysmic Infinity War events and the previous Captain America: Civil War, but Ant-Man and the Wasp has more in common with the goofy 1987 sci-fi comedy Innerspace—where a naval Lieutenant played by Dennis Quaid is shrunk to microscopic size and injected into an unsuspecting Martin Short. Did I mention that Rudd and Lilly can summon ants to do their bidding?

Ant-Man and the Wasp also benefits from casting some pretty big heavyweights. Michael Douglas is back as physicist Hank Pym, who created the subatomic technology that makes all of this possible. Laurence Fishburne is his Hank’s former rival at S.H.I.E.L.D., and Michelle Pfeiffer has a small role as the wife and mother everyone is trying to rescue from the Quantum Realm.

No, I’m not doing a plot summary and I’m not going to explain how all of this works. Suffice to say, the screenplay (by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari) exploits so many creative ways to use micro/giant-sized things that eventually the regular use of this technology becomes kind of commonplace in the story, which is a huge compliment. It’s convincing. Enough.

The mechanics of the plot don’t fare as well, unfortunately. There’s a lot of seemingly arbitrary choices that lead to re-staging the same kind of drama in a slightly different setting, but along the way, this escapist Marvel movie does what all the best escapist Marvel movies do—it develops its characters and has them bounce off of each other in interesting ways.

Michael Peña is back fast-talking sidekick and Lang’s former cellmate Luis, and he and his crew provide ample comic relief. Not all the jokes land, but it’s hard not to like these guys. Even though Walton Goggins—who is usually a standout in any role—plays a new villain, the best new addition to the cast by far is Randall Park, who plays a hilariously insecure FBI agent.

With a little inventiveness and charm to spare, Ant-Man and the Wasp succeeds by charting its own course through the MCU, and I hope there are more lighthearted, character-driven adventures in this dysfunctional family’s future.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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