Ant-Man and the Wasp’s good-natured humor is non-stop during its two-hour runtime, enough to momentarily forget the ending of Avengers: Infinity War.

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, as mentioned in Avengers: Infinity War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on house arrest for helping Captain America, and is prohibited from functioning as Ant-Man and having any contact with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) or Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hope and Hank reach out to Scott because they need his experience in the Quantum Realm to find Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), violating the terms of Scott’s confinement and placing him at risk of a 20–year prison sentence.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the perfect sequel to Ant-Man. It develops its characters and story, expands the world, and maintains the same brand of humor and style. The film miraculously does all of this without feeling repetitive or redundant, creating a story that feels fresh, with humor that is always surprising.

A refreshing element in Ant-Man and the Wasp, compared to other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is that the stakes are not world-threatening. Instead there are enormous personal stakes. Hank and Hope want to save Janet, Scott does not want to go to jail, and the antagonist Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) wants to stay alive.

This shifts the format from the typical MCU film. Rather than the heroes reacting to stop the villain, the heroes are trying to achieve something and the antagonists are impeding them. Because of this, the film feels more grounded and personal than most other superhero movies. In a way, it makes the characters feel more human, by giving the heroes personal motivators, as opposed to their just being heroic.

The main antagonist, Ghost, is particularly interesting because she is not really a villain. Ghost rationalizes her actions in a similar way to how Scott rationalized his initial thievery in the events prior to Ant-Man. While Ghost may be one of the MCU’s most sympathetic antagonists, she is nevertheless a formidable opponent to both Scott and Hope, and is ruthless in her actions.

While the Wasp shares the title with Ant-Man, which is significant considering this is the MCU’s first titular female hero, Hope unfortunately does not feel quite as developed as Scott. Both characters show significant growth from the first movie and the film proves that when both Scott and Hope are suited-up, Hope is considerably more skilled than Scott. However, Hope still feels a little too flat.

Hope is single-mindedly set on getting her mother back, and while this creates a fantastic story, it does not do much to build Hope’s character. Ant-Man and the Wasp gives such a clear sense of who Scott is, but shows only that Hope is a formidable hero. This is unfortunate especially because Ant-Man did a better job of exploring Hope’s motivations, showing her loyalty to her father despite their strained relationship and delving into her intense desire to be a superhero and her reaction to the loss of her mother.

Ant-Man and the Wasp’s greatest strength is its unique brand of humor. As a good portion of the humor derives from Scott’s daughter Cassie, the film is more child-friendly than many other MCU movies, yet the humor is not juvenile. As in Ant-Man, director Peyton Reed expands the humor from the MCU’s typical witty quips to an additional strong sense of quirky visual humor. The film is edited in a stylistic way to emphasize the humor and excitement, especially in the changing sizes.

Ant-Man and the Wasp highlights the MCU’s commitment to unique directorial visions. The film, in both story and style, is like no other in the MCU, yet comfortably feels a part of the same world. The humor and story create a momentum that allows the film to feel fun from start to finish.

Grade: A

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ opens in theaters July 6, 2018

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