ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA hits theatres this week, and it’s been a hot minute (almost four years) since we’ve seen Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly suit up, so I thought we should do a quick catch-up on what’s happened to our size-shifting hero thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
ANT-MAN (2015) 😊
I remember enjoying this movie quite a bit when it came out in 2015, but my recent rewatch changed my mind. I didn’t hate it, but I did seriously consider giving it a 🤮this time around. Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man) is very likable in just about everything he’s in. Add Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Corey Stoll as the villain, and it should be a winning combination. My rewatch laid bare the many plot holes and ridiculousness of it all. There are some funny moments, for sure, but ANT-MAN just isn’t all that original or deserving of your time. I expect more from something with Edgar Wright’s name on it. Maybe he wrote all the good parts?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) 🤩
While the 3rd Captain America film can’t top the second (THE WINTER SOLDIER), CIVIL WAR gets better upon repeated viewings. The first time I saw it in theatres almost seven years ago, I came out feeling like there were just too many characters and plots going on to satisfy me, but now I unabashedly love it. CIVIL WAR is our introduction to Black Panther and Wakanda, MCU’s SPIDER-MAN, Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, Daniel Bruhl as Zemo, and introduces Ant-Man to The Avengers. Yes, it’s a lot, and truth be told, I’m not sure at times why Ant-Man or SpiderMan really even need to be there. But it’s a whole hell of a lot of fun, and the repercussions of the “war” are felt long after ENDGAME, as evidenced in much of the MCU’s TV shows like THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER and WANDAVISION. So while Lang’s appearance here is a 😊, the film overall gets a top review.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018) 😊
Unlike its predecessor, I didn’t like this film very much the first time around, but it improved in my recent viewing. TV-baddie Walt Goggins (as Sonny Burch) makes a formidable antagonist, but the most interesting part of this sequel falls to the Ghost/Ava storyline, which I was given more time. I hope to see Ava return in QUANTUMANIA or another future show or film, as her story is far from resolved. The much-improved relationship between Scott Lang and his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new husband Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) is more relatable than the first film’s attempt to make Paxton Scott’s adversary. Where this film fails for me is that there’s just too much going on. Yes, I did just say that CIVIL WAR works despite having even more crammed into it, but it doesn’t here. Burch, Ghost, and the search for Janet Pym(Michelle Pfeiffer) were too much to cram into one film because they don’t get anything outside of this story. There’s not (yet) a dedicated story to Ghost, Burch is a silly villain despite Goggins being wonderful, and Pfeiffer deserves better too.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) 🤩
I’ve never really understood a lot of the critique against this movie. It’s top-tier MCU and in my Top 3 of all 31 films in the universe. I go back & forth with this WINTER SOLDIER and BLACK PANTHER as my favorites, depending on the day. What’s relevant here is that Scott Lang & Ant-Man actually serve a purpose and aren’t just brought along for the ride as it felt in CIVIL WAR. Scott’s “time heist” plan could probably be used in a lot of other MCU films, too (DOCTOR STRANGE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS OR SPIDER-MAN NO WAY HOME come to mind), but that’s on them, not ENDGAME. After Tony Stark puts Scott’s plan into motion, ANT-MAN serves a purpose, but he mostly takes a backseat to Iron Man & Captain America. Upon multiple viewings, this film always brings out a lot of emotion in me. Is it popcorn blockbuster madness? Yes. It is also one of the best superhero films laid to the big screen. Also yes.
Conclusion: Ant-Man works better when surrounded by his fellow heroes. Not just Hope/Wasp, Hank, and Janet, but with team Avengers. There are a ton of great actors in the Ant-Man films, but they still just sit right in the middle of Marvel’s Universe. They’re not nearly the best, but they’re not the worst either.
All films above are currently streaming on Disney+.