Ant-Man second to female heroine
Ant-Man and The Wasp is both a credit and an albatross to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, writes Darren Bevan.
It's understandable that following the "heavier" material tackled in Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel would want to put something out which was a little more knockabout.
However, the danger is that Ant-Man and The Wasp is becoming the outlier of the franchise, a film series where the stakes never quite feel high enough, and the levity is almost derailing.
As a self-contained piece, the return of Paul Rudd's comedic chops as Scott Lang is semi-welcome, but there's a feeling very early on in the film that it's trying a little too hard to flex its muscles.
In the latest, Lang is still under house arrest following his escapades in Civil War - and consequently, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are on the run from the authorities.
But when Lang experiences visions of the Quantum Realm and somehow connects with Pym's long-lost wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, in an ethereal role), the two's worlds collide once again. With Hope desperate to see her mother, and Pym keen to reunite with his wife, they team up to try and break on through to the other side.
However, their plans are thrown into jeopardy when a new threat emerges...
It's interesting that Ant-Man and The Wasp demotes its titular hero to almost a supporting role in his own film, with Rudd definitively sidelined by Lilly's new heroine taking the lead.
Lilly leads most of the action scenes with such undeniable chutzpah that not even the overuse of deliberate pop-culture references to the 90s can derail.
It's a move Marvel have been too slow making, and Lilly seizes every opportunity to shine, imbuing her Hope with the fragility that's needed and the inspirational leading heroine that's been sorely lacking in the Marvel universe for far too long.
If Ant-Man and The Wasp is guilty of anything, it's that its central plot is entangled in sci-fi bunkum (one character even remarks that they're just throwing Quantum in front of everything).
Sure, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a solid, popcorn fare, that's gleefully executed by all, but its charm only goes skin deep.
Ant-Man and The Wasp
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Peyton Reed
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