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After the bleak ending to Avengers: Infinity War (Part One), and the ongoing noir of the Netflix series, Marvel needed to break for a few laughs, and so, summer 2018 gets an Ant-man sequel, set in a corner of the MCU that embraces the Rule of Funny.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must break parole and suit up when several people come after Hank Pym's (Michael Douglas) technology, which would be, after all, world-altering, but here only gets used by some superheroes. Joining him is the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and a large supporting cast. Adversaries include government agents, former associates, a tortured supervillain, and some incompetent freelance criminals.

Each Marvel movie has its own direction and tone. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superpowered spy thriller. Jessica Jones is metahuman noir. The original Ant-man is a comedy heist flick, with superheroes.

This film comes the closest to being an old-school comic book, the sort you bought off the rack in summer. Impossible tech drives the plot, simplified personalities define the characters, and allies and adversaries banter wittily during battles. Director Peyton Reed's extended action sequences should kill hundreds or even thousands, but people seemingly survive. Ant-man and the Wasp gleefully celebrates action movie physics and comic-book science. Pym's lab features the contemporary equivalent of the preposterous machinery Jack Kirby loved to draw. The plot is wildly convoluted, almost as though it resulted from comic improvisation. On its own level, the film makes for passable summer entertainment.

The film, however, revisits the best elements of its predecessor without presenting anything more. It revisits the same basic visual gags and spectacular effects. Its cleverly choreographed chase sequences run a little too long. People expecting more Ant-man and a lot more Wasp won't be disappointed, but won't find anything new or memorable.

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Most of what I think of Ant-Man and the Wasp has been repeated by other critics, including the other write-up here. The consensus was that after the cultural monument that was Black Panther, and the epic big-budget spectacle of Avengers: Infinity War, the third Marvel entry for 2018 was slight, despite being in its own right a big budget movie full of star power: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Pfeiffer.

On the whole, the movie is rather light-hearted, with a series of chase scenes and comic interludes that manage to simultaneously both deliver what the audience is expecting, as well as subverting them. When you watch a car chase scene in a movie set in San Francisco, you are probably thinking to yourself: "They are about to go down Lombard Street, aren't they? They have to include Lombard Street..." and, Spoilers, they do indeed include Lombard Street. The movie introduces enough technology, characters and concepts that despite being predictable, it also manages to be surprising.

The most interesting thing to me is how much Marvel has managed to do, popularly and even artistically with one of its lesser known properties. I liked Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp more than I liked Spider-Man: Homecoming. I liked Spider-Man, but as the third iteration of the series, and as a well-known property, we all have expectations for what a Spider-Man movie should be. But even long time comics fans probably don't have too many expectations about what should be in an Ant-Man movie. Michelle Pfeiffer as a long stranded cosmic traveler? Laurence Fishburne as a Bill Foster with several surprising twists? A cameo by Rover, Hank Pym's vehicle from his West Coast Avengers days? Card tricks? A monologue about why Morrissey is popular in Mexico? A Hot Wheels car carrier that turns out to be full of shrunken, actual cars? A villain who insists that his truth serums aren't truth serums because "truth serums don't exist"? A lot gets thrown into this movie: it might be true that several months later, I can't remember what the plot was, or wasn't, but I remember lots of individual scenes. The lack of a spotlight on the character, and the fact that hosts of fans aren't going to be angrily indignant about changing Ant-Man continuity, has seemed to give the creators of the film more leeway in creating this movie, and I think the end result is entertaining, and maybe in its own way, significant.

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