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Marvel had commonly prided itself on delivering films that are fun and lack self-serious, and of all the characters in their mythology, Ant-Man demands that attention more than any. 2015’s Ant-Man may not rank as one of the best of the genre, but its approach to the genre as a relatively low-key story about a father trying to atone for his mistakes and pull off a heist was perfect. Ant-Man and the Wasp delivers on many of the same factor, but also gives us more of what was demanded from the first film, namely more creative action, more humor, and more Evangeline Lily.

After aiding Captain America in battle, Scott Lang/ Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest and has avoided contact with his former associates. After receiving a mysterious message from the long lost Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Scott teams up again with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to find her, while a threat looms in the form of an enigmatic figure known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

Rudd is a naturally charismatic screen presence, and his hapless, goofy persona is a welcome contrast to the superheroes we usually see. There’s a definite development to the character, as we see his desire to save people as a superhero contrasted with his desire to protect his daughter. Similar to how the first film’s heart was centered on the relationship between Lang and his daughter, Ant-Man and the Wasp draws its motional core from the search for Janet and the excellent relationship between Lily and Douglas. Lily is perfect as Scott’s more competent partner, yet the familial tragedy gives her the needed vulnerability.

Rudd, Lily, and Douglas work extremely well together and have developed a great onscreen repertoire with some terrific banter, and their charismatic relationship leads much of the film. This is definitely a comedy first, with many side plots and elements feeling somewhat unimportant to the overall story other than to add comedy, and for the tone of the film, they fit in well. Randall Park is uproarious as a quirky FBI agent looking for his big break, and I also enjoyed Walton Goggins’s sweet-talking southern arms dealer and the charming duo of Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale. That being said, the film is once again stolen by Michael Pena, who’s quirky anecdotes, memorable one-liners, and perspective on the events of the film make him the standout of the cast.

While the character of Ghost may lack the screen presence held by Infinity War’s Thanos or Black Panther‘s Killmonger, the character’s backstory is set up reasonably well, specifically involving the incorporation of Laurence Fishburne as a character genuinely caught in the crossfire. The character’s backstory is definitely tragic, but for the most part Ant-Man and the Wasp keeps things light and fluffy, and despite many diversions, none of the gags overstay their welcome. The action is also genuinely jaw dropping at some points; director Peyton Reed has found a way to use scale and the characters’ powers creatively, and the third act is genuinely relentless in delivering an exciting chase spectacle with the perfect sprinklings of spectacle.

Ant-Man and the Wasp delivers everything I wanted in a sequel, and while it may not have as strong of an emotional character arc as the first film, it definitely expands the world and characters in a creative manner while also keeping the stakes personal and the comedy consistent. As a comedy alone there’s the appeal of many charismatic people delivering solid jokes, and as a comic book film it’s well rounded, while not leaning too hard on it’s connections to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a blast. Grade: B+

A look at how I’d fit Ant-Man and the Wasp into my rankings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films:

20. Iron Man 2

19. Thor: The Dark World

18. Thor

17. The Incredible Hulk

16. Ant-Man

15. Captain America: The First Avenger

14. Iron Man 3

13. Avengers: Age of Ultron

12. Ant-Man and the Wasp

11. Doctor Strange

10. Avengers: Infinity War

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

8. Black Panther

7. Iron Man

6. Guardians of the Galaxy

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming

3. Thor: Ragnorak

2. The Avengers

1.Captain America: Civil War