Director Peyton Reed is back at the helm for this second offering in the Ant-Man franchise and he seems far more comfortable with the superhero genre this time around.
Set before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, the film opens with loveable superhero/criminal Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) suffering in his goofy, good-natured way through the final days of house detention.
All he has to do is stay confined to his house and yard, resisting any temptation to lapse back into superhero guise or contact his former team members – Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), creator of the Ant-Man suit, and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Pym’s daughter, quantum physicist and now wearer of her own suit which transforms her into the impressively bad-ass Wasp.
The house detention shouldn’t pose a challenge since the authorities were not the only ones less than impressed with Lang’s involvement in the events of Captain America: Civil War. Pym and Van Dyne want nothing to do with him for taking the suit to Germany and using it without their permission.
But the broken alliance is reluctantly re-forged when Lang discovers his time in the Quantum Realm has left him with a strange mind-meld connection with the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). She’s been trapped there for the last 30 years, in a miniaturised form, ever since she sacrificed herself by going sub-atomic to defuse a bomb.
Pym and his daughter won’t rest until they find a way to extract Janet from the Quantum Realm, but the lab and Quantum Tunnel on which the project depends are also coveted by people with less virtuous plans for the technology. Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a sleazy trafficker of black-market tech, is on their trail for the profit, while The Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), an unstable young woman (in more than one sense), needs the technology to heal herself after being injured in a lab accident that left her with the ability to phase through objects.
This film gleefully capitalises on the visual potential of zipping between human, insect and colossus scales. Rudd, of course, is a powerhouse of one-liners but the film’s comedic foundation is delightfully enhanced by Luis (played by the wonderful Michael Peña), Scott’s former cellmate and now colleague in a security-consultancy business.
But the final comment needs to centre on the Wasp. This is the first time a female superhero has made it to a title role (albeit a shared one) in a Marvel film, despite the franchise keeping fans dangling for many years with the promise of a Black Widow solo venture. DC’s Wonder Woman has proved audiences are definitely hungry for superhero films with female protagonists, so while the Wasp is an enjoyable step in the right direction, this reviewer is more than ready for more.
Come on, Marvel. We’ve waited long enough.