I see a lot of movies. Still, I sometimes miss big releases if a) I don’t see the film either at a press screening or right when comes out and b) it’s not an awards contender. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s so much to keep up with. At a certain point, there are some entries that I just never get around to seeing. Among the few I was missing up until recently were Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp, the lead-ups to the forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Thanks to a long flight last week and two Disney+ downloads ahead of time, I’m now caught up with everyone’s favorite shrinking hero…
Prior to getting the origin story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), I did find him to be an extremely entertaining part of Avengers: Endgame (I also just caught up on another blindspot, Captain America: Civil War, where he plays a major role). While I had heard from some that having him all by himself is a bit much as compared with his comic relief value in a film with deadly serious themes, it turns out that he’s an enjoyable anchor who functions just fine in both capacities. He’s very likeable even if he sometimes makes the wrong choices, and there’s something that feels appropriate about how goofy he is given the nature of his powers.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
What works very well about both films is the incorporation of the technology invented by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) that allows for the shrinking and growing of both people and random objects, particularly toy cars and the giant lab building that can be transported like a piece of carry-on luggage. There’s an effective rhythm to the action and the way in which Ant-Man and the Wasp fight battles, and a decent showcase of hand-to-hand combat with some enticing power-enhanced twists. These movies are very watchable, and while the experience of seeing them on a big screen would surely be a delight, they play out satisfactorily on a tiny screen, too.
Both films are much more about the heroes and their quibbles than the villains, though I can appreciate Corey Stoll in a scenery-chewing role any day (watch Billions on Showtime to see more of that, with slightly less outright evil impulses). And Walton Goggins, best known for his roles on The Shield, Justified, and The Righteous Gemstones, may be one of the most under-appreciated actors of this generation, and it’s fun to see him in the sequel. There’s a lot going on in Ant-Man and the Wasp from multiple sides, and that enhances the overall enjoyment of a film that fortunately clocks in at just about two hours long, the perfect length for this material. After watching the season one finale of Loki, I’m extremely excited to see what Jonathan Majors does as the big bad in number three.
Rudd is a terrific fit to play Lang, and it’s clear that he’s having fun. While Evangeline Lilly has doubled down on her anti-vaccine stance in real life, she does exhibit great chemistry with Rudd in the films. From the supporting casts, the clear standout is the man at the center of a meme I encountered long before I saw these films: Michael Peña as Luis. He’s all about the conversation and the long explanations, and hearing his voice as other people move their mouths is a blast. Him falling victim to truth serum was also a highlight.
Both Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp capture the playfulness of the MCU that makes following this incessant stream of movies such an obsessive pleasure for millions. There’s no reason to take them very seriously, and the gimmicks add to the enjoyment factor. The third film promises to be more enticing as it fortifies tie-ins to the overall MCU, which tends to up the stakes and involve appearances from other Marvel characters. While, with some heroes, that might not be appealing, the chance to see Ant-Man interact with anyone else should absolutely be worth the price of admission.