“Ant-Man and The Wasp” is a juggling act. It somehow manages to keep a bunch of subplots, multiple character motivations, and a rather unusual MacGuffin in the air all at once. How well it succeeds at being entertaining depends a lot on how willing you are to keep up with the twists and turns – or your willingness to just let the fun carry you along like a bubble on a stream.
The storylines are all a bit convoluted, but the short version is: Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is working with Hank Pym/retired-Ant-Man (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) to rescue Hank’s wife, Janet Van Dyne/former-Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) from The Quantum Realm. As they try, they come into conflict with a mysterious figure they nickname the Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who wants to use their laboratory for her own ends.
Boiled down to its essence, this is a movie about relationships. Scott lied to Hank and Hope and ran off to help Cap without thinking about how it would affect them. He also didn’t think about how it would affect his daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson), and he’s determined to finish his house arrest successfully to avoid spending the the next 20 years in jail, away from her. Hank and Hope lost Janet thirty years ago and have never given up hope of rescuing her – but will she still be the person Hank was partnered with? What will her relationship with him and with Hope look like now? The Ghost has a father-figure of her own, and they are often in conflict; they both want the same things, but she’s willing to go a lot further than he is to get there. We even get a subplot looking at Scott’s relationship with his friends-slash-business-partners, the trio of comic-relief characters from the first film.
The special effects, chase scenes, fight choreography, and banter are all what we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios – high quality and delivered with a smile. The size-changing made possible by Hank’s technology makes for some thoroughly creative choreography – especially when Hope and Scott are both suited up. The Ghost can walk through walls and become intangible so that punches go right through her, which adds its own twist.
“Ant-Man and The Wasp” starts with a flashback to Janet’s disappearance, so you don’t really need to have seen “Ant-Man” or “Captain America: Civil War” to follow the story here. At this point, Marvel Studios seems to be well aware that movies focused on a subset of characters need to stand alone in a way that, say, “Avengers: Infinity War” does not.
Really, you probably already know if you want to see this movie or not. It is a superhero movie with imperfect heroes, based on impossible science (Hank’s “pym particles” are basically magic), and containing a whole bunch of humor alongside its action. If that sounds fun, check it out. If anything in that short list makes you roll your eyes, this is not the movie for you.