Marvel again delivers a great combination of action and comedy. That seems to be the studio’s main modus operandi right now. As long as you combine action and comedy, you’ll have a sure hit. Looking back, it all started with the Guardians of the Galaxy series, because before that film the superhero genre was quite serious. Then Edgard Wright was invited to make an Ant-Man comedy, and last year the troubled Thor series was defibrillated with a dose of Taika Waititi’s kiwi comedy. In all of Marvel’s smaller series, comedy is now interwoven with storytelling, and the same seems to go for wacky, colorful science fantasy visuals. And sure, we need to believe that Doctor Strange and Ant-man exist in the same universe, but everything does start to look the same.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is nicely smaller in scale when it comes to the story. No saving the whole planet or the whole universe. That larger scale story is covered already by the Avengers films. This story is not about a villain but about a personal quest: bringing back Hank Pym’s wife from the quantum realm. After all those epic films, and especially after Avengers: Infinity War, that smaller scale is appreciated. But a personal quest doesn’t necessarily mean that the characters are all that deep or fleshed out.
Take Ant-man himself. Paul Rudd is a very likeable guy. He looks sympathetic and knows how to deliver comedic lines, but other than that there is not much to him. He is simply the loveable rascal, the incompetent sweetheart. His prospective partner The Wasp is of course much more competent and smarter than he, because heavens forbid we try something else than the incompetent guy and perfect woman as male and female superheroes.
It’s the comedy that makes it work. And with comedy I mean lots of shenanigans with enlarging and shrinking objects.
There isn’t much more to say about it, to be honest. I felt like I’d seen the movie before I actually saw it. It’s so easy to point at the story beats, such as: oh these are all the introductions and set-ups. Oh, here is where the hero does something stupid and things get worse. Oh but now we are in the climactic fight and everything will be ok somewhere in the next ten minutes. Ok, end credits and final scene. Next movie please.