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Ant-Man and the Wasp review - a refreshing, humour filled outing for Marvel’s littlest characters

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After Avengers: Infinity War dropped earlier this year and (spoiler alert!) half of the Avengers essentially evaporated into thin air, fans were left in desperate need of some light-hearted refreshment to ease their despair. Ant-Man and the Wasp goes above and beyond in delivering exactly that.  

With Paul Rudd’s infectious charisma and the stylish direction of Peyton Reed, the latest installment in the oh-so-successful and ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe is a light-hearted and humour filled romp for Ant-Man and his new partner the Wasp (played by Evangeline Lilly).

The film picks up following on from the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) in which Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang (Ant-Man) was drafted in to help Captain America in his war against Tony Stark. Lang is ultimately captured and is forced to take a plea deal, promising never to team up with the Avengers or take part in any ‘Ant-Man’ activities again (rest assured this does not last long). 

The film begins with Lang only days away from the end of his two-year house arrest sentence, dedicating his time to being a doting father to his daughter in favour of his previous heroic pastimes. Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) have long since cut ties with Lang due to his activities in Captain America: Civil War and are currently in hiding, secretly trying to find a way to free Hope’s mother and Hank’s wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm where she has been trapped for thirty years. 

After an attempt to enter the Quantum Realm by Hank and Hope, it becomes clear that Lang is ‘quantumly entangled’ with Janet (which is a thing apparently), so Hope sets out to find Lang and use him in their quest. The trio, in their attempts to enter the quantum realm face opposition from various sources, but the most interesting is the mysterious villain, Ghost, a physically unstable figure who is able to move through walls and phase in and out of existence. 

Ghost turns out to be Ava Starr (played by British newcomer and Killjoys star Hannah John-Kamen), a young woman with a quest of her own. It is interesting to see a villain who is deemed the villain simply because her aims conflict with that of the heroes. In reality, Starr isn’t on a mission to cause worldwide destruction or achieve some mass population cull; she is simply trying to survive, through any means necessary. In a way, it’s slightly more realistic (well, as realistic as the MCU can get) showing a villain with actual logical motives - how many psychopathic maniacs hell bent on global annihilation can there really be in this universe? It’s nice to see a different kind of 'bad-guy' being explored. 

Plus, John-Kamen does a wonderful job in the role; her fearful desperation and fierce determination are both mesmerizing and unnervingly frightening at the same time. In terms of casting, something must be said for Paul Rudd here, his charisma and comic delivery are what fuel the warmth and light-heartedness that make this film what it is. Rudd is the perfect choice for Scott Lang, and in his third outing now as Ant-Man he has truly found his feet in the character and delivers his performance with tender sincerity and comedic perfection, a job very well done. His relationship with Lilly’s Hope and Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym is wonderfully reminiscent of a bickering family, heartfelt but amusing, and the chemistry he shares with Lilly is truly undeniable. Michale Douglas also turns in a decent performance as ageing scientist Hank Pym, his abrasive stubborness coupled with his love for his daughter make for a wonderfully heartfelt yet deeply amusing character.

Director Peyton Reed has done a remarkable job with this film, it is stylish and impressive whilst still maintaing a sense of warmth and emotion that superhero films often lack. Prior to production on the film, Reed expressed interest in introducing Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp, insisting that she would be an equal to Ant-Man in every sense. Reed manages to maintain this throughout the film and treats Wasp as a hero in her own right as opposed to reducing her simply to Ant-Man’s sidekick. It is refreshing to see such representation of female characters in mainstream Hollywood. Reflecting women as strong characters with their own independent motives as opposed to reducing them to wives/partners, merely assisting the male characters, is the change we need right now and it’s reassuring to see Marvel welcoming it. 

The casting of Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost is an interesting choice, as the character was originally male in the comic books. This casting choice is another example of change in Hollywood; flexibility regarding casting, particularly in favour of diversity is a welcome step forward in achieving equality. Well done Marvel and well done Peyton Reed.   

Ultimately the film is a heartfelt and well-rounded addition to the MCU, and brings with it a very welcome dose of humour and warmth, thanks to its wonderful cast and refreshing direction. A perfect palate cleanser before we return to the MCU with the as yet untitled fourth Avengers film next year. 

PSA: stay for the mid credits scene, it is important, trust me! 

Ant Man and The Wasp is in cinemas now.

 

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