When Ant-Man arrived in 2015, I couldn’t help but find myself disappointed in the finished product. In truth, it was an average-fare that would have left me satiated had it come in the initial phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, as Marvel’s series of films encumbered the theaters at a more rampant, abundant rate, and began reaching new heights, it was definite to me that Ant-Man simply couldn’t tread water to the best of them, providing a light-weight, disposable film that found itself more toward the bottom of the Marvel catalogue, while films like Captain America: The Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy stood out with home-runs for the series in Phase Two. Thankfully, with that said, I feel comfortable saying that Marvel’s twentieth film in their series Ant-Man and the Wasp is a noticeable uptick from its predecessor. But, how much of an actual improvement is it?
Something I felt about Ant-Man with its release is that it had too many cooks in-terms of stylization and thematic tone. This is likely due to the troublesome production it underwent, with Edgar Wright being abruptly replaced by Peyton Reed as director. From the get-go, I want to say that I believe Ant-Man and the Wasp not only acts as a superior film to its predecessor, but it feels like a more consistent, functional film altogether.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been criticized as depending on more light-heart casualness in-contrast to more mature themes. I believe this criticism has been heard by those involved and responded to subsequently, with the higher-stake, more serious films like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. However, films like Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 show Marvel still very much enjoys providing lighter, more comedic entertainment. Personally, as a fan of almost all the MCU films, I like the approach of getting the best of both worlds, Marvel has a certain style and identity, and I appreciate that it can deal with heavier subject-matter while keeping it fun all the way through. That said, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a much lighter affair, and likewise with its predecessor, I think it can be described as light-weight.
Fortunately, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a lot more entertaining of an experience than its predecessor, bolstered by the charming performance of Paul Rudd, as well as his supporting cast of characters, which includes a dialed back performance from Michael Pena, who I thought was a little overboard in the original film.
The villain in this film can fairly be described as run-of-the-mill, but I did like the motive of molecular instability and thought it added more nuance to her. It’s like the portrayal of Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where the villain isn’t motivated by cruelty per se, but, instead, focuses more toward survival.
The action-sequences are entertaining and vibrant, and the comedy that’s incorporated has a very similar novelty to the original film, but I think it’s better balanced than that. I think it has moments, particularly when Ant-Man is left trapped in a school-building, where I think it is allowed to do some unique things. I will admit that it could have done more than what it did with its concepts from a comedic perspective, but I am mostly satisfied with what we received.
Ant-Man and the Wasp can’t escape feeling like a holdover film after the grandiose events of Avengers: Infinity War, and honestly speaking, similar to sequels like Iron Man 3, it can occasionally feel like it coasts off charm more than substantial subject-matter or ideas. The best aspects in the film aren’t action-scenes or a villain, but the comedic, zany one-liners, usually quipped by Ant-Man himself, and the fast-pace enthusiasm it bolsters. Then again, it is very watchable, and charm or entertainment-value isn’t something to be discounted, if this was a action-comedy from another studio, I think many, including myself, would be able to set aside how it stands with the core-series, and would simply appreciate it as a good action film.