As the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next movie after Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp has some pretty dramatic expectations to contend with. The previous movie's cliffhanger ending left audiences despondent first, then suddenly hungry for clues as to what will happen next. So this next movie obviously seems like the best place to look for answers—and perhaps, ultimately, for hope.
In that sense, Ant-Man and the Wasp is both the best and worst follow-up to Infinity War. On one hand, it provides some much-needed levity to Marvel's release schedule. After just witnessing the genocide of half the universe, we're getting a predated story in a movie packed with laugh-out-loud hilarity and balls-to-the-wall action—an absolute blast throughout most of its 125-minute run time. It's pitch-perfect in keeping with the first installment's style and brand of humor; while fight scenes and chase sequences are twice as spectacular with two heroes. Everything that worked in Ant-Man is even better in Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly might be the best things about this movie, both individually and as the titular duo.
On the other hand, Ant-Man and the Wasp is almost completely detached from the events of Infinity War, and at least on the surface, it doesn't build up as much excitement for the next movies (Captain Marvel, Avengers 4) as one might have expected it to. The Quantum Realm features heavily, of course, but isn't clearly explained in a way that might lead to speculations about how it will eventually affect the events of Avengers 4. A few of the movie's jokes reference Captain America: Civil War, and there's one other scene that bridges Ant-Man and the Wasp to the upcoming MCU films, but for the most part, the story stays within its own lane.
And that might have actually worked to the film's advantage if the story were strong enough on its own. Too bad Ant-Man and the Wasp suffers from typical plot contrivances and excessive exposition. The story relies too much on the incomprehensibility of the Quantum Realm and Quantum technology to tie everything in. And while that vagueness also yielded some pretty hilarious moments (the audience went wild when Janet Van Dyne first revealed herself to Hank and Hope), it ultimately keeps the movie from raising the stakes to a point that can get you to care.
But the film's efforts at a gray antagonist and a dramatic conclusion are valiant, and none of the storytelling flaws are enough to keep the movie's stars from shining. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly might be the best things about this movie, both individually and as the titular duo. Rudd reprises Scott Lang with more of the same energetic humor, and Lilly's Hope Van Dyne finally given the space to come into her superheroine status. Wasp no doubt owns this movie, and shows all the requisite character and charisma to fit right in with the Avengers. Together, Rudd and Lilly delivered Ant-Man and The Wasp from its rough edges.
So as a whole, Ant-Man and the Wasp works, if only because it's so damn delightful. Sure, one might have hoped for more depth and better drama. But the film compensates with comedy, charm, and creative action sequences; which, altogether, are probably what we need in the lead-up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next chapter.