With "Ant-Man and the Wasp", Marvel has finally recreated the experience of the comics, at least in the sense that loyal fans must begrudgingly watch a stopgap sequel in order to keep up with the main story. Marvel Comics has a storied tradition of releasing annual crossover events in which various standalone series are drawn into the fold, forcing readers to pick up issues of series they may not otherwise be interested in so that they can follow the story. Such is the case for "Ant-Man and the Wasp". I doubt anyone was clamoring for a sequel to "Ant-Man", but here we are. The only real draw is the opportunity to see how the inevitable post-credits scene will tie the characters into the events of "Avengers: Infinity War", from which Ant-Man and the Wasp were absent. While marginally better than the first "Ant-Man" film, this sequel fails to generate anything resembling genuine interest or excitement.
Picking up shortly before the events of "Infinity War", the movie finds Scott "Ant-Man" Lang (Paul Rudd) drawn back into the fold of superheroism just as his house arrest sentence is coming to a close. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) believe they can rescue Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the wife and mother of the Pym family, from the subatomic quantum realm. Lang's time in the quantum realm during the climax of the first "Ant-Man" has left him with a sort of psychic connection to Janet, so Hank and Hope forcibly recruit the ex-con to assist in locating her.
This being a superhero film there is, of course, a supervillain. This time the antagonist is Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a molecularly unstable baddie who is out to steal Pym's quantum technology. Aside from some interesting visual effects work with Ghost's phasing powers, she joins the large pile of forgettable MCU villains. Most of the movie is a back-and-forth as Ghost steals the technology from the protagonists and vice versa. There are additional pursuers, too, including the FBI and an evil black market tech dealer. The various parties run around in circles for the remainder of the movie, which makes little pretense of being nothing more than a series of chase scenes.
It seems like it would be pretty easy to get an audience to care about rescuing someone's family member, but the movie never gives the rescue operation any emotional weight. It feels like the Disney higher-ups felt Janet's status as a wife and mother would be enough to care whether or not she is saved. As a result, the movie strangely treats rescuing Janet Van Dyne as if she were some object to be retrieved, rather than a human being the other characters care about. This leaves a vacuum in the middle of the movie that is never filled. There is constant scurrying around in all sorts of action scenes, but it is hard to care about any of it.
"Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a dull sequel to an already dull film about a character that Marvel cannot seem to make interesting. The "big things get small, small things get big" concept should be more fun than it is here. There is little in the way of ingenuity or creativity. There is nothing here that hasn't already been done in other Marvel films. I have been growing increasingly bored with Marvel's output over the past few years, and this does not make it any better. I should have just rewatched "Phase IV" instead.
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