Viewers who are up to speed with the timeline running through the Marvel films will know that Stan Lee’s superheroes have faced some pretty dark events lately.
Without going into spoiler territory, The Avengers: Infinity War ended with a massive emotional gut-punch that stunned audience members. It was, by Marvel’s standards, a morose affair, so thank heavens for Ant-Man and The Wasp, a film that brings back some much-needed levity to superhero fans.
Fittingly, for a film about superheroes whose powers are shrinking and enlarging both themselves and other items, what makes Ant-Man and The Wasp work so well is its scale. There are no “fate-of-mankind” or “end-of-the-universe” stakes here. No titans clashing or entire city blocks falling. There aren’t even any real villains, just a couple of antagonists driven by very human desires.
Rather, this film centres on a small team that blurs the line between family and friendship, with a protagonist who is as much of a vulnerable everyman as he is a bloke who can grow to giant size. Throw in the fact that you don’t have to have watched every single Marvel film that has preceded this one (other than the first Ant-Man), and you’re looking at some of the best action-packed light entertainment money can buy.
The film kicks off two years after Captain America: Civil War and Scott “Ant-Man” Lang (Paul Rudd) has agreed to cut ties with his superhero buddies. He’s a few days away from ending his house arrest and has promised to never wear the Ant-Man suit again. Violation of these conditions will put him in jail for 20 years.
Meanwhile Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her dad Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are on the run from the law, thanks to Lang blowing their cover, and are trying to track down pieces for a device that will rescue Pym’s wife – the original Wasp – from the quantum realm. The catch? They need Lang’s help to do it.
Matters are complicated further by the arrival of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a woman who can phase through walls, and Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a slimy black market dealer.
While Ant-Man and The Wasp contains the usual elements fans have come to expect from Marvel films – heart-racing chases, eye-popping action and the snappiest dialogue this side of Joss Whedon – what makes the film soar is its focus on the relationships between its characters.
While watching a giant Pez dispenser take out a group of bad guys is fun, it’s the down-to-earth nature of Lang and his crew which makes the film far more relatable.
Unlike most other Marvel films, the heroes’ triumph in AntMan and The Wasp doesn’t feel like a forgone conclusion, and even though it is, one still can’t help but cheer them on.