The story begins with former Ant-Man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) living under house arrest as punishment for assisting Captain America in Captain America: Civil War. He’s hung up the size-altering suit while the Wasp, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) has spent the intervening time trying to find a way to rescue her mother, Janet, from the subatomic Quantum Realm that she’s been trapped in for decades. With only days left in his sentence, Hope and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglass), pull Scott back into the world of superheroics, since his experience in the Quantum Realm at the end of Ant-Man makes him invaluable for their mission. In their quest to reach the Quantum Realm, Ant-Man and the Wasp clash with the mysterious Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen, and black-market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who each want access to the Quantum Realm for their own reasons. In addition to being Ant-Man, Scott has to balance saving his cash-strapped security firm, maintaining a good relationship with his ex-wife and her husband, and hiding his illicit activities from the FBI.
The film constantly throws new problems and complications at its heroes, which keeps the movie’s pacing brisk. Unfortunately, the movie is resultantly light on character development, with Janet and Ghost suffering the most from a lack of depth. The ludicrous nature of the Quantum Realm and the technology derived from it also detract from the aspects of the movie that work. Despite the plot’s weaknesses, it provides plenty of opportunities for the things you really want in an Ant-Man movie: jokes, inventive action sequences, and psychedelic imagery. Thankfully, the movie makes the most of those opportunities. The ever-shifting scale of the battles and the frequent visual humor keep the combat fresh and entertaining, while the forays into the Quantum Realm deliver some of the trippiest imagery in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As charming and funny as Ant-Man And The Wasp is, it never manages to transcend competence. The characters are likable, but not especially complex or compelling. The functional plotting mostly serves as a vehicle for jokes, which are consistently funny if unremarkable. The light tone and small scope are refreshing, but the film never escapes the shadows of its sibling franchises. The main elements of the movie have been explored it more entertaining fashion in previous Marvel films. Spider-Man: Homecoming tells a far more engaging street-level superhero story, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does a better job exploring familial relationships, and the comedy of Thor: Ragnarok is zanier and funnier. As a result, Ant-Man And The Wasp fails to find a niche for itself in the greater MCU.