Scott Lang digs being tiny. Ant-Man tiny, that is.
He went from being your average small-time thief to being, well, a pretty big superhero thanks to a special suit that gives him the ability to shrink to the size of an insect or swell to the size of building at the push of a button. In fact, when wearing that super garb, Scott feels like he could beat back any baddie and grapple with any wrongdoer.
The problem is, he’s currently under house arrest and grappling with an opponent of a different kind: the consequences of his past actions. You see, he tried to help out Captain America a while back, and in the process broke the superhero rules known as the Sokovia Accords.
If he wants to stay out of prison and stay close to his beloved daughter, Cassie, he’s been warned that he’d better stay in line. Which is exactly what Scott has been trying to do. No more super-suit super-duty. In fact, he’s only got a few more days wearing his hated ankle monitor, and he’ll be free to come and go as he pleases—as a perfectly happy and normal father.
Unfortunately, the Ant-Man suit’s creator, Dr. Hank Pym, and his daughter, Hope (also known as the Wasp), have other plans. They have an urgent Ant-Man-worthy mission that requires Scott’s immediate attention. He needs to team up with the Wasp (who’s got a snazzy, super-shrinking-suit of her own) and help them with a Quantum Realm mystery. It involves the tantalizing possibility that Hank’s wife, Janet Van Dyn, who was thought to have perished decades before, might still be alive somewhere in that microverse.
But to locate her, they need Scott’s help. And it has to be now!
Don’t you just hate it when uncannily brilliant scientists and their beautiful daughters are so demanding? And when other mysterious villains with unknown motives of their own show up, too?
Yeah, Scott hates it too … even if, secretly, he sure likes donning an updated Ant-Man suit one more time.
Scott breaks rules, bends laws and goes to great lengths to evade the authorities—in some cases against his own will. But the fact is, no matter how things play out, he goes through the film always trying mightily to do the right thing.
Scott even apologizes to Cassie at one point for messing up at times, and he admits to feeling stupid for not always getting things right. But Cassie sweetly refuses to let him put himself down. “Trying to help someone isn’t stupid!” she insists. She later declares, “I want to help people … just like my dad!”
It’s clear that the two of them have a terrific and loving dad-daughter relationship. And Scott speaks of their affectionate bond as being the one thing that got him through the worst parts of his life, especially his seemingly interminable two-year house arrest.
Hope and her parents, Hank and Janet, also embody the same kind of loving parent-child connection, which we witness in multiple scenes. And both Hope and Hank are willing to risk their lives to rescue Janet from her multidecade exile in the Quantum Realm. (Janet, by the way, landed in that subatomic reality by risking her own life to save thousands of people.)
[Spoiler Warning] An old acquaintance of Hank’s, Bill Foster, is trying to help a young woman named Ava come to grips with her remarkable—but dangerously unstable—phase-shifting powers. But he refuses to let Ava hurt or misuse innocents as they race against time to stabilize her potentially life-threatening condition. Later, Janet is actually able to help Ava deal with her condition and the pain that comes with it, which prompts the once-villainous character to change her ways.
Because of a Quantum Realm encounter, Scott and Janet share a strange, pseudo-psychic bond that seems almost spiritual in nature. In fact, her consciousness temporarily possesses Scott’s body at one point (in a scene that’s equally touching, humorous and creepy as she speaks through him).
After being trapped in the Quantum Realm for many years, Janet describes the changes that have happened to her as a form of evolution. That realm is also described as a place of “multiple parallel realities,” and as being “chaotic, unpredictable, dangerous and beautiful.”
Someone talks about a traditional Slavic folk story centered on a “ghost witch” dubbed Baba Yaga. He later sings a children’s song about this creature. Speaking of ghosts, the film’s ethereal antagonist is known as the Ghost.
We hear a reference to a hero who was once known as Goliath.
We hear a couple moments of veiled verbal innuendo that adults will pick up on while kids likely won’t. In one, Hank describes Scott’s phasing encounter with Janet in the Quantum Realm as a “quantum entanglement.” To which, Scott earnestly declares, “I would never do that!” In another scene, Scott and Bill Foster both talk of wearing the Hank Pym super-suit and growing to gigantic heights. An annoyed Hope quips, “If you two are done comparing sizes …” Elsewhere, Hope vaguely alludes to the apparent physical relationship she and Scott once shared, in which they “worked together, did other stuff together.”
We see Scott in a bathtub from the waist up. He’s also shown shirtless and in boxers in other scenes. We see a couple kiss. Some female characters reveal a bit of cleavage. Scott is divorced. His ex-wife, Maggie, is now happily married to a man named Paxton, and the three of them seem to have a pretty healthy co-parenting arrangement.
This is a superhero film, so there are explosions, melees and car crashes aplenty. But unlike some supers pics, there isn’t much massive deadly destruction on display. In fact, we only see two people lying bloodlessly in some rubble after a building explodes.
That said, there is still plenty of pummeling in the mix as thugs, federal agents and super-powered beings clash. People get tossed and slammed into tables, walls and the ground. Some smash through windows and glass doors. A lot of the attention is given to Wasp’s incredibly acrobatic moves as she shrinks and grows while punching and kicking at scores of foes, knocking many unconscious. She and Scott dodge huge crushing hammers, slashing knives, stomping feet and hurtling vehicles in their miniaturized form. Large microbe creatures threaten one character in a subatomic universe.
The film’s villain, the Ghost, has phasing ability that allows her to propel people with a vibrating strike. In one case, we see her push her phasing fist through someone’s neck (though without doing permanent damage to that character). Ghost talks about the work she did for the government after being “weaponized,” work that included assassinations and killing. Several people are Tasered.
[Spoiler Warning] In a post-credits scene, several people mysteriously disappear.
God’s name is misused about a dozen times, including one pairing with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused twice. We hear two fully voiced s-words and two uses that are unfinished.
We also hear a dozen or so uses of “d–n,” at least seven uses of “h—,” three uses of “a–” and one of “son of a b–ch.”
Scott gets shot with a dart that renders him unconscious. Several people are injected with a truth serum-like cocktail. We see a needle piercing someone’s arm to administer that drug.
Something shrinks in a surprising fashion, causing a confused elderly man to joke, “The ’60s were fun. But now I’m paying for it.”
Scott, Hope and Hank are all running from the law because of the restrictive superhero laws known as the Sokovia Accords. Hope and Hank are also dealing with black market thugs to buy some contraband equipment. But it turns out they want to pilfer Hank’s technology for their own nefarious purposes.
We hear the sound of someone vomiting.
But for some disappointing mandible nips, Ant-Man and the Wasp is mostly the superhero pic you want it to be. It delivers a nice balance of action, laugh-out-loud fun, character charm and sweet moments between loving parents and equally lovable kids. Indeed, the importance of family plays a significant role in this pic’s plot.
Oh, and of course, you’ve got plenty of heroics here, too—selfless people performing selfless deeds with the best of intentions (even though they occasionally have to skirt letter-of-the-law government rules to do so).
That also means when you burrow down into this charming Ant pic’s nest, you don’t have to worry about simmering, stewing super angst. For that matter, there are no swarms of innocents being squashed by the thousands. (Which is no small cinematic accomplishment in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.) Why, even this movie’s powered-up villain is driven more by desperation than by some despicable dream of apocalyptic destruction.
The one real, uh, wasp in the ointment in Disney/Marvel’s latest effort is this pic’s rough language quotient. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for your typical superhero movie these days. But that profanity is enough of an ants-at-a-picnic annoyance that it might well keep some moms and dads from fully enjoying this PG-13 popcorn-muncher with younger viewers.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.