Comics on Film: 'Ant-Man and The Wasp' Shrinks to the Occasion as a Superior Sequel

Comics on Film: 'Ant-Man and The Wasp' Shrinks to the Occasion as a Superior Sequel

Jul 06, 2018

Ant-Man and The Wasp

In 2015, Marvel Studios' Ant-Man — directed by Peyton Reed and starring Paul Rudd — was a little hard to qualify in the growing series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coming off of the event that was Avengers: Age of Ultron and serving as the last stop before Captain America: Civil War, it was kind of sandwiched in-between two much higher-profile films from the same world it calls home.

It also tried to be something far less weighty than what we'd seen in Age of Ultron, and even what we would eventually see the next summer in Civil War. Still, Ant-Man was fun, salvaged from undoubtedly difficult shuffling that moved it out of the hands of Edgar Wright and into those of Peyton Reed, and it was well-received.

Now, three years later, Ant-Man and The Wasp is in surprisingly similar territory. It's released on the heels of the gargantuan culmination that was Avengers: Infinity War, and arrives as the last stop before an ambitious and expectedly illuminating entry in the MCU in the form of Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson. Because of its resurgent position as a sort-of wedge between the larger event films of the MCU, the sequel's role becomes a surprisingly necessary palette-cleanser after the horrific events depicted in the conclusion to Infinity War.

Thankfully, it succeeds on all fronts, and likely stands as a generally better, more fun, and even more kinetic offering than its direct predecessor.

Ant-Man and The Wasp

Two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest after being apprehended in Germany by "Team Iron Man." Unfortunately for Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Scott's use of the Ant-Man suit makes them directly culpable in his violation of the Sokovia Accords, so the father-daughter duo are on the run from the law.

When Scott awakens in the middle of the night after having an apparent vision of Hank's wife and Hope's mother, Janet van Dyne (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), Dr. Pym and Hope kidnap Scott — putting him at risk of violating his imminently expiring house arrest — so that the family can retrieve the long-lost matriarch from the depths of the sub-atomic "quantum realm" before she's lost forever. While Scott's position as an ex-convict was one of the driving forces behind the plot of the original film, virtually all the protagonists are on the run from the law this time, which adds a bit of novelty to everything and makes it very kinetic.

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne makes her heroic debut as Wasp, and all there is to be said on that front is that her arrival in a suit is long overdue. Wasp makes for the best sheer superhero in the movie by a comfortably wide margin, but the movie also does a great job in depicting a very effective partnership between the film's two titular heroes. Really, though, there likely won't be many people questioning the idea that Hope needs to be recruited into whatever form the Avengers take next. She is that good.

While the plot of the film is a little on the convoluted side (likely owing a bit to the fact that no less than five screenwriters are credited), the direction, performances, action, and comedy all have the quality you've come to expect from Marvel Studios. Honestly, several of the jokes as they're written aren't even that funny, but the way those jokes are performed manages to make all the difference in sticking their landings.

Ant-Man and The Wasp

Something else that helps Ant-Man and The Wasp stand out is its relatively atypical approach to defining the antagonists. Really, the most persistent enemy of the characters is Sonny Burch (played by Walton Goggins), a relatively low-level villain mostly found in just a few comics featuring Iron Man in 2003. The other main "villains" aren't really villains at all in the traditional sense, with Ghost (played by Hannah John-Kamen) providing most of the quasi-supervillain visuals and action. Still, Ghost is after something a little more complex and understandable than many of her typical villainous colleagues from across the MCU, so characterizing her simply as a "villain" doesn't quite do her spot in this film justice.

Adding Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) into the mix is also a wise choice, since Ant-Man comics fans will know who he is and what he represents in relation to the Pyms and Scott Lang, so in terms of fidelity to the comics, the sequel film takes a pretty similar approach to the original: borrowing where it can, and contorting if necessary to fit the mold of the world it wants to play in.

All in all, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a welcome "pick-me-up" coming off the dour, heavy occurences we beheld in Avengers: Infinity War a couple of months ago. The humor is funny (Michael Peña's Luis once again brings the goods in that department), the action is creative, the family dynamics are more fully realized, and the adventure is intoxicating. It's not going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to entries in the MCU, but it more than adequately serves its purpose as a good reason to check in with these characters once again.

It's certainly not the best offering that the MCU has produced, but it neither needs, nor tries to be. All in all, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a highly effective depiction of a superhero duo in addition to upping the ante on everything we saw in the original Ant-Man film. With that being said, what more could you want in a sequel?

Chris Clow is a comics expert/former retailer, and pop culture critic/commentator. He hosts two podcasts: Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek Podcast and Comics on Consoles. Find his column "Comics on Film" weekly at, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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