in Retrospecticus, Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Original Review: n/a

One thing I didn’t mention in my Ant-Man review is how it parallels the first Iron Man so well. You could describe Tony Stark or Hank Pym’s arc as the story of a guy recovering from a trauma and standing up to the evil dude who took over his company. The big difference being that Hank Pym is not the main character of Ant-Man, Scott Lang is, so they came up with a contrived reason for Hank and Hope to have to rely on Scott to help them. The smartest thing Ant-Man and the Wasp does is lean back the other way, letting the film become the story of a super hero father and daughter, and this other guy who wants to help but mostly wants to take care of his own daughter.

Scott Lang is not a super hero, he’s just a ex-con with a graduate degree and an unusually strong drive to do the right thing. Even with Pym’s super suit, that ability to change size doesn’t seem that useful, given the amped up stakes of the MCU. Like, no one walked out of Infinity War thinking “if only Ant-Man was there, they could have stopped Thanos” (or so I thought). So it makes sense that Lang would have settled down after Civil War, signing a plea deal to give up super hero work in exchange for house arrest and probation. He seems serious about his retirement too, having started a business with his buddy Luis and reiterated his commitment to his family. He’s not exactly training for the next battle.

Hank Pym was a super hero, and so was his wife Janet van Dyne. Years ago, Janet was lost when she disappeared into the Quantum Realm, a truth Hank hid from the daughter Hope. But now that Scott has gone there and made it back, they’ve had their faith restored in the possibility of Janet’s survival and started searching for a way to bring her back. Thanks to the Sokovia Accords and Scott’s decision to join Cap’s side, Hank and Hope are both wanted fugitives. Nonetheless, they continue their research, evading the FBI thanks to Hank’s shrinking building and Hope stepping into her mother’s shoes as the new Wasp.

Scott’s time in the Quantum Realm created some sort of link between him and Janet, which she uses to reach out to him in his sleep. Scott thinks to tell Hank about this, and the trio are forced to reunite, as they realize Scott is the key to figuring out where Janet is. Scott sincerely wants to do right by Hank and Hope, he feels guilty for making them fugitives, but Ant-Man and the Wasp never actually forces him to go all in on this super hero story. Rather, Scott’s priorities constantly undercut the more melodramatic moments. When they’re captured and betrayed by Bill, Scott interrupts their interrogation by having to take a call to help his daughter find her soccer shoes. When Hope and Hank are perfecting they’re Quantum tech, Scott decides to call Luis in to help prep for the big presentation the next morning. When the group are being chased by the FBI, Scott leaves them to make sure he’s home so he doesn’t lose his family.

There’s never a tough, catastrophic choice that needs to be made. It’s obvious that Ant-Man and the Wasp was building to Scott having to either commit to going on the run and being a super hero or staying behind and becoming a family man, but the movie is better for actually not doing that. He gets to have it both ways and dammit, he deserved it. The movie wisely undercuts other tropes too. Ghost and Bill are smart, sympathetic villains and the movie resists the urge to make them do something purely evil just to turn us against them. Instead, in the end, Hank and Bill are able to squash beef and Janet heals Ghost. Everybody wins! The other side villains, played by Walton Goggins and Randall Park, both add funny, inventive obstacles to the movie without becoming… Djimon Hounsou.

Both Ant-Man films are among the most re-watchable of the whole MCU. They’re really fun genre movies, with the first being a heist and the second a ticking clock chase. Making big things small and small things big is endlessly entertaining. I love the little details that add to the world, like Hank’s lab being built out of supersized Legos and powered by gargantuan AA batteries. Even the music is fun, I’m all about the car chase song “I Shrink, Therefore I am.” They’re funny, they’re light, and this second one doesn’t have the weirdness of Hank choosing Scott over the Hope because reasons. I just wish both of them didn’t come out at times when everyone was like “I’m done with super heroes for now.”

During the credits, we see that Hank, Janet, and Hope are sending Scott into the Quantum Realm to scoop up some magic for Ghost. That’s when The Snap happens and the big trio are dusted, leaving poor Scott stuck in tiny land. How will this tie into Endgame? It’s hard to say, but I would wager that Scott finds a way out by time traveling – my guess is to the past. I’m scared to google any Ant-Man-related terminology however, because now Endgame spoilers are out there in the void. I’m seeing it tomorrow, so I’ll probably weight in on it here sometime next week. If I don’t thanks for reading all or some or at least this one Marvel Retrospecticus review. Whatever it takes, we’re in the endgame now.

MCU Power Rankings: I think it’s the weakest of the four star movies (sorry I like Age of Ultron too much), so just shy of the top 10 for me.