First things first: “Ant-Man and the Wasp” doesn’t explain any of the million questions left off by “Avengers: Infinity War.” For that you’ll have to wait for “Captain Marvel” next year, and maybe not even then.
Besides that, the sequel to the surprise 2015 hit of a vastly-underestimated superhero satisfies nearly every expectation that Marvel fans would have had prior to the release.
Directed by Peyton Reed, the film takes off three years after events of “Captain America: Civil War.” Violating the Sokovia Accords by fighting alongside Captain America has landed Scott Lang -- Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd -- in house arrest, eagerly waiting for his release into the arms of his loving daughter Cassie.
Ant-Man and the Wasp" (Walt Disney Company Korea)
With just three days to go, Lang is suddenly approached by his old mentor Hank Pym and Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne -- played by Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly -- Lang’s former love interest who is now a superhero Wasp. The pair request Lang to bring back Hope’s mother Jane Van Dyne -- Michelle Pfeiffer -- who is thought to have been lost in the quantum realm but encrypts a message to her family in Lang’s brain.
Along the way, however, the trio encounters Ava or Ghost, who inadvertently obtained an ability to phase through objects through a freak accident and is trying to use Pym’s technology for her own benefit.
You can just scratch that last part about the quantum mumbo-jumbo out because understanding the science behind it is not even essential to enjoying the film.
The visual is just as enjoyable as the last one. “Ant-Man” wowed fans with eccentric visual images of a world seen by a 1-inch-tall man, but the new film takes it up a notch by adding Lang’s new “Giant Man” feature that was demonstrated in “Civil War.”
The imagery of a man and a woman shrunken down to bug-sized, grown back to full-size, then to a gigantic size is so innocently silly that it is enjoyable to just look at.
The most notable upgrade is the action. It was made abundantly clear that Wasp is not a sidekick but an equal partner and the film stresses that point to the extreme.
Action-wise, she is superior to Ant-Man in every way and completely claims the action portion to make viewers wonder, “Are we sure the movie isn’t named ‘Wasp and the Ant-Man’?” Marvel has had a string of strong female characters, but Lily’s portrayal of Wasp may be the only other one besides Catherine Blanchet’s Hela in “Thor: Ragnarok” to possibly eclipse her male counterpart.
Of course, Rudd shows he is worthy of a title role as well, not only as Ant-Man but also as Scott Lang.
The comedy is pure gold. Rudd is brilliant as ever but Michael Pena’s Luis is what really upgrades the whole movie in terms of comedy, alongside the other two loveable dunces of Dave and Kurt -- played by T.I, and David Dastmalchian.
In terms of after-credit scenes, the first one effectively changes the entire tone from funny and laid back to get-serious mode. But I wouldn’t recommend holding your pee for another 10 minutes for the second one, if you’re looking for some clues for the next MCU movie.
The only one downside for die-hard fans is that it has almost nothing to do with the main “Avengers” storyline, outside of throwaway lines.
On the flip side, however, this makes it easy for casual fans to follow. Just accept the technological gibberish as it is, kick back and enjoy the ride.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” opens in local theaters Wednesday.
By Yoon Min-sik