This is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. It’s a sequel more directly to Ant-Man (2015) and Captain America: Civil War (2016). The MCU is the most successful, super-hero franchise in box office history. However, with the exception of the 2015 flick, none of the stories have involved a super-hero being a parent or a super-hero having a biological child. Obviously, a couple of MCU titles have been about super-heroes dealing with a parent, mostly with fathers, such as in Thor (2011) or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Yet, the 2015 film broke the mold and gave us a literal dad as a super-hero. This movie doubles down on that concept, particularly on the father-daughter relationship that is central and integral.
Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) stars as Scott Lang, an ex-convict who is a father to an adorable, little girl named Cassie. He’s currently on house arrest. He has an apartment in San Francisco. He works with his friends who are fellow ex-convicts who have banded together to start their own security company. However, Scott has to work from his apartment because he’s on house arrest. The FBI put an ankle bracelet on him due to his arrest in Captain America: Civil War for helping Captain America who is technically a fugitive. However, he makes the most of it by inventing fun things for him and his daughter to do. The bond between him and his daughter was evidently strong in the previous film but it’s even more so here.
Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Lost) co-stars as Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Hank Pym, the inventor of the Ant-Man suit. When it comes to father-daughter relationships, yes, Scott and Cassie are important, but it doesn’t get the amount of play as that of Hope and Hank. The majority of her scenes in this movie are with her dad, which adds up to more than half the film. We don’t really learn more about her or dive any further into her head. She’s mostly just a smart, action figure, but her dynamic with her father is a fun and compelling one.
Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra and Wall Street) reprises his role of Hank Pym, the father to Hope. Thanks to the ending of the 2015 film, he’s inspired about finding a safe way to enter the quantum realm and return safely. The quantum realm is the world that exists at the subatomic level or smaller. The reason Hank wants to go to the quantum realm is because his wife and Hope’s mom, Janet Van Dyne, is trapped there. Douglas is in his 70’s but he’s a totally fun and interesting sidekick in this film. He’s a total member of the team that doesn’t drag the narrative like one might assume.
His role here even leads to a trippy sequence not unlike the one at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Instead of the far reaches of outer space, we dive into the deep crevices or recesses of inner space. The distinctions though are minimal. Hank could be a character from Interstellar (2014). At one point, he looks like an old astronaut.
The rest of the film is decent action utilizing the established technology where our heroes can shrink and grow at will. A comedic aspect embraced here more than in the 2015 film is the complication that what if Scott lost the “at will” part and was shrinking and growing randomly or uncontrollably. How can that be mined for good, comedic action?
Director Petyon Reed mostly answers that along with his writers with well-done and even clever set-pieces. He also allows Rudd, as well as Michael Peña (pictured above) who returns as Luis, the best friend of Scott to be sheer, comic relief. Peña is thrown into more of those set-pieces and the emphasis on the humor is amplified even more, even more than the first film. What helps is the fact that the villain or villains in this narrative aren’t outright evil.
Hannah John-Kamen (Ready Player One and Tomb Raider) plays Ava aka Ghost, a woman who might seem demonic. Most ghosts with the exception of Casper tend to be demonic, but in the 2015 film, Corey Stoll played Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket as undeniably a psycho. He brutally kills a man in the first half-hour without blinking an eye. Here, Ava isn’t as psycho but the question is if she’ll go psycho or not. Stoll was of course fun in his role, but the emotional struggle, no matter how sleight, is better here.
Reed also provides us with time for good, supporting performances from Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster, a friend to Hank and fellow scientist, as well as Randall Park who plays Jimmy Woo, the FBI agent overseeing Scott’s house arrest and the apprehension of Hank and Hope. It also provides some more diversity to the cast, which is always appreciated.
Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 58 mins.