The first Ant-Man was the perfect definition of a “fine” movie. It wasn’t great, and it wasn’t bad. It was just fine, and while it was just fine, it ended up being one of the more enjoyable films in the MCU for me. The fact that it was rather irreverent and treated the concept of a shrinking man with levity is what really made it all work. Sure, the plot and overall story were generic, but it was fun, creative, and felt like a breath of fresh air everywhere else. As Marvel’s track record has mostly shown, their first sequels generally pale in comparison to the first, so how would a second go-around fare?

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is placed under house arrest for violating the Sokovia Accords. While he still has his daughter, he’s lost contact with original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne aka the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly). That is until Scott begins having visions of Hank’s thought to be dead wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), which makes him believe she may be alive deep within the mysterious Quantum Realm. In order to try and save her, they enlist Scott’s help, as they get tangled up with some obligatory bad guys. Looks like this is a job for Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Ant-Man was a character that really had no business working as well as he did on the big screen, but all of the correct elements were in place to make it a hit. While it would have been nice to have Edgar Wright’s style and visual flourish, it had a tight, fun script brought to life with a fantastic cast. All of those key players return here, making the sequel even more fun than the original this time around. Paul Rudd is once again excellent as Scott Lang, perfectly exercising his comedic timing and charm, while still playing it straight during the more emotional scenes with his daughter. It’s really his performance that holds it altogether, as he’s the perfect kind of actor to handle this silly material. Of course, just like last time, he’s surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast with Evangeline Lilly, Michel Douglas, and of course, the ever-lovable Michel Peña, a highlight in pretty much anything he’s in. They all get more to work with here, especially Douglas, whose character arc gives him a lot to go through. It was also nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer again, who’s been in a lot of stuff lately, and I’m not complaining. 

The narrative isn’t as simple this time around, but still not very complicated. These movies are all just vehicles to serve up some action scenes and become the next cog in the grand cinematic universe, but there was enough heart and story to keep me invested. Since we have all of the generic origin story elements out of the way, we’re able to develop these characters a bit more and explore more of the Ant-Man’s unique concept. It’s also nice that these films feel generally disconnected from the rest of the MCU and mostly stand on their own, aside from a few references. Like a lot of the other MCU films, though, the villains are pretty lame and standard. While I respect that they’re not “destroy the entire world” type of bad guys, they still felt like the most uninteresting parts of the film. They were still better than Corey Stoll in the first film, who was utterly wasted in his cartoon villain role. At least Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost and Laurence Fishburne as an old associate of Pym had actual characters.

Another big novelty of the first were all of the action sequences, which consisted of a tiny man with super strength doing tiny man with super strength things. A majority of the action scenes in these films feel really bland and lifeless, but having your character shrink down offered a lot of fun avenues to be played with. I was afraid that all of that would have come across as stale in a sequel, but they just kept coming up with more and more silly ways to play with the idea. I never thought I’d get a film with a toddler sized version of Paul Rudd, but I’m happy I did. This also  has one of the most fun third acts of any blockbusters I’ve seen in a few years. The many different ways the filmmakers play around with the various shrinking and enlarging of sizes never failed to elicit some sort of laughter or genuine excitement. You want a car chase where a car picked from a Hot Wheels carrying case constantly changes sizes to take down various enemies? Well, look no further. No matter how many times I saw a tiny car with the sound of its tiny engine speeding along the road, I couldn’t help but giggle.

It’s not often the sequels in the MCU are better than the original, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is one that does everything the first film did, but better. It has the same level of heart as the first, but it wonderfully expands on the concept, the characters, and fun that can be had with this kind of absurd superhero. It also has, without a shadow of a doubt, the best absolute best Stan Lee cameo yet. With all of these doom and gloom comic book films, it’s nice to have one that’s just so silly and unabashed at what it is: a comic book film. I’m definitely a sufferer of superhero fatigue at the moment, but it’s films like this one that give me a little spark of energy. 


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