Is Ant-Man and the Wasp a “forgettable” installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or “a bright, cheery tonic”? Most critics seem to agree on the latter. A few of the early reviews for the Ant-Man sequel, directed by Peyton Reed, have reiterated that it’s “an effects-laden goofball comedy in which anything goes and nothing matters” — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return in the film as Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, only this time Hope is suiting up as the winged Wasp to fight bad guys alongside Ant-Man. With a cast that includes Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne, the story follows Hope and Hank Pym’s efforts to rescue Hope’s mom, Janet van Dyne, from the Quantum Realm — while also dealing with a phasing villain named Ghost.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the first Marvel movie to follow the cliffhanger of Avengers: Infinity War, and multiple critics called the film a palette-cleanser for “the doom and gloom” of Thanos’ attack.
For EW’s Darren Franich, however, “Ant-Man and the Wasp stumbles by trying to take itself even half-seriously. Poor Hannah-John Kamen looks stranded as the notional super-baddie, the space-phasing Ghost. Sad flashbacks, bad attitude, lame powers: She’s the most boring villain since that time Thor punched some elves.”
Still, the majority of reviewers seemed to appreciate the work as “harmless fun,” “a two-hour mental break,” and “the nicest” Marvel movie to date.
Read more reviews below.
Darren Franich (Entertainment Weekly)
“After I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp, I tried to remember if I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp. This is one of those Marvel products peddling self-aware detachment as a defining narrative strategy. Scientists will say science stuff — ‘quantum realm,’ ‘quantum entanglement,’ ‘quantum tunnel’ — and then Scott/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) will deadpan that everyone says ‘quantum’ too much. Characters joke so much about Captain America: Civil War that you start to wonder if you paid movie-ticket prices to read the internet two years ago. It feels less like a feature film than a meme somebody made about an Ant-Man trailer.”
Owen Gleiberman (Variety)
“The director, Peyton Reed, also made the first Ant-Man (2015), but at the time he’d never helmed a special-effects blockbuster before, and his inexperience showed. He jammed comedy, action, and origin-story mythology into a film that had more amiable spirit than craft. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Reed keeps the entire movie — one-liners, Macy’s Parade effects, hand-to-insect-wing combat — spinningly aloft. Always an inspired director of comedy (Down with Love, Bring It On), Reed has learned how to operate the heavy machinery of a Marvel superhero movie yet keep it all light and fast and dizzying. His combat scenes don’t overpower. They’re well spaced out and actually make visual sense, like a hypnotic one early on in which Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), a.k.a. The Wasp, confronts a pack of goons in a restaurant kitchen by popping in and out of micro size, sliding along the edges of a tossed carving knife only to burst into her full ninja self to deliver the knockout blows.”
Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)
“The result is an effects-laden goofball comedy in which anything goes and nothing matters. Not that this is an entirely plot-free extravaganza or just an excuse for comic riffs. But the filmmakers are so cavalier about the idea that any of this is supposed to make any sense that there’s a certain liberation in not burdening two human-brained insects with the fate of the entire universe. If the filmmakers don’t pretend to take the proceedings too seriously, you don’t have to, either.”
Alonso Duralde (The Wrap)
“From 1969 to 1975, Kurt Russell played affable college student Dexter, who kept running afoul of science experiments that rendered him strong, super-smart or even invisible. Substitute Paul Rudd’s amiable ex-con Scott Lang for Dexter — with Michael Douglas subbing for scientist William Schallert, and Walton Goggins taking the Keenan Wynn/Cesar Romero role of the nefarious mobster — and Ant-Man and the Wasp is basically The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes for the 21st century.”
Angie Han (Mashable)
“Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t the funniest Marvel movie ever made, or the deepest or the coolest or the most creative. But it just might be the nicest, and that counts for something. Coming hot on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War, it feels like the balm we needed after all that death and destruction. But even if you’re not a Marvel diehard who’s spent the past two months bursting into tears at the sight of a dust bunny, it’s just plain fun to spend some time with mostly likable people doing mostly good things for other people that they care about.”
Laura Prudom (IGN)
“Boasting some of the most creative action scenes and finely-calibrated comedy in the Marvel universe so far, Ant-Man and The Wasp doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it certainly knows how to make the ride even more fun. After the doom and gloom of Infinity War, this savvy sequel is a welcome change of pace, and a reminder that the MCU is malleable enough to tackle just about any genre and tone without losing its sense of identity. Needless to say, we’re eagerly ant-icipating Ant-Man and the Wasp’s next outing.”
Mike Ryan (UPROXX)
“Ant-Man and the Wasp is a two-hour mental break when a lot of people could need a mental break. If this sounds like I’m being condescending to this movie at all, I promise you I am not. I mean this as a huge compliment. It’s so lighthearted and everyone in the movie is so darn pleasant and they all seem to like each other, it kind of feels like the most fictitious Marvel movie to date.”
Susana Polo (Polygon)
“Ant-Man and The Wasp feels like the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to really lean into the wildness of comic book super science, in the same way that Thor: Ragnarok was the first to lean into the style of Jack Kirby and Guardians of the Galaxy was the first to lean into the cosmic. If it hasn’t been clear yet: Ant-Man and the Wasp is the funniest movie Marvel has made yet. But it’s not all goofs in here. Heavier emotional lifting, like Ghost’s genuinely dark backstory, Hope and Scott’s ‘it’s complicated’ relationship status and Hope and Hank’s determination to rescue long-lost Janet, is laid out firmly enough to make us believe it but not enough to clash with the silly antics around it. And Ghost is a surprisingly well realized villain.”
Justin Chang (The Los Angeles Times)
“Its zippy action scenes and trippy bursts of kaleidoscopic color look great in a theater, but in some ways its whimsical sensibility and playful, diverting story might feel just as well suited to the dimensions of your in-flight entertainment screen. That may not sound like a compliment, but it is. The Disney-Marvel movie cycle and its various subfranchises have always been haunted by dreams of global domination — something craved by emotionally stunted supervillains and, not to be redundant, box-office-hungry studio executives. In this bigger-is-better context, a movie about a hero who finds his strength in tininess is, well, no small thing. Even multi-billion-dollar enterprises need a bit of modulation every now and then.”
Matt Singer (ScreenCrush)
“About two months ago, Marvel released Avengers: Infinity War, featuring pretty much every superhero in existence (except Hawkeye) fighting for the fate of the entire universe. Next year we’ll see that conflict resolved in Avengers 4. In between, here is Ant-Man and the Wasp as a kind of cinematic intermezzo to cleanse the palate between rounds of high-stakes intergalactic warfare. It’s about as unassuming as a movie about a man who can grow 65 feet tall could be, and in its relatively subdued scale, it is fairly refreshing and fun.”
David Edelstein (Vulture)
“Where other so-called ‘franchises’ fall into monotony, Marvel Studios under Disney has an uncanny knack for shifting gears, so that just after we’ve been softened up — or, rather, pulped — by the scorched-earth epic, Avengers: Infinity War, we get the hearty slapstick family comedy, Ant Man and the Wasp. I liked it. It’s a way more expensive version of the second-rate but congenial farces that Disney churned out when I was a kid, like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes with Kurt Russell (who’d just as soon purge it from his memory banks) or any of the movies with Dean Jones and a cat, a big dog, a pirate’s ghost, or a sentient Volkswagen. In this kind of film, no one dies, not even bad guys. They sit on a curb in handcuffs, glowering and doing variations on, ‘Curses, foiled again!’ It’s busy, harmless fun. Very, very busy.”
Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair)
“The nicest thing about A.M.A.T.W. is perhaps how bloodless it is. There are some gunshots and some crunching car crashes, but this is not a movie aimed at grimness or brutality. Compared to all the turgid savior stuff of Avengers, the movie seems almost stakes-free. There’s a rescue operation afoot, and a couple people trying to thwart it for their own selfish purposes. That’s all. Cities are not threatened; comrades do not fall. A few ants are eaten by a seagull, but it’s, well, kinda funny.”
Eric Kohn (IndieWire)
“Still, the essence of Ant-Man is inherently silly, and that’s where the strength of the new movie lies. While the introduction of Spider-Man to the MCU may have overtaken Ant Man’s status as the funniest Marvel character, Rudd provides an amusing contrast to the seriousness of his peers (at one point asking the scientists why they have to slap the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything). He’s matched in several scenes by Randall Park as an overconfident police officer constantly foiled by Ant Man’s slippery escape tactics, as well as the ultimate scene stealer reprising his role from the last entry: Michael Peña is brilliant as Scott’s garrulous partner-in-crime Luis, who tends to answer questions with long, rambling stories that lose their way.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp opens July 6.