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iReview | ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Marvel’s most astonishing pint-sized hero is back for another big screen adventure, but after battling on the side of the angels in the climatic Civil War Ant-Man and The Wasp must team-up — for the first time — to save the day!

In the annals of Marvel Comics creations, the characters of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne are without a doubt instrumental in setting in motion the comics imprint’s modern era of superheroes. As two of the founding members of the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the duo had a significant influence inspiring every generation that followed in their footsteps. When Marvel Studios announced that they would be adding the pair to their cinematic line-up, fans assumed that they would debut as part of the premiere team-up of Avengers. Not so.

As part of the next phase of the extended Marvel cinematic universe Ant-Man was introduced in his own big screen adventure, but it wouldn’t be Henry “Hank” Pym in the title role. Veteran Hollywood actor Michael Douglas was cast as the original hero first introduced in the classic Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962), but it would be comedic leading man Paul Rudd who would step into the super suit with the abilities to control his size and mass! Rudd was cast as Scott Lang, the second hero to assume the mantle of “Ant-Man” and introduced in Marvel Premiere #47, 1979.

In the comics, Lang a talented engineer was also a small-time crook who stole Hank Pym’s suit, but after proving himself to the scientist, Pym recognizes Scott’s potential and gives him the suit, so long as he uses it to fight crime. As the new Ant-Man, Scott Lang would become a hero in his own right often teaming up with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and even joining the Avengers for a time. His daughter Cassie would eventually assume her own superhero persona and join the next generation of heroes inspired by the Avengers.

Hope Van Dyne (Lilly) is every bit the hero the world needs, and a capable force even at pint-size!

On the Big Screen

When the hero was realized for the big screen, his origin was similarly styled after his comic book introduction. Pym (Douglas) has learned that the technology he has developed and coveted over the years called “Pym particles” is being coopted by a former business partner. With the help of his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly) the pair intended to recruit Lang to their cause to subvert the organization that is intending to weaponize his science and turn his life around as a superhero.

As the Ant-Man, Scott fought along with Captain America when the heroes confronted one another in the midst of a “Civil War”. At the end of that epic confrontation, Scott was sprung from prison and kept a close eye on by the FBI. Under house arrest there isn’t much that he can do, so he spends a lot of time with his daughter, Cassie, but when the fugitive Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne seek his help, Scott may lead the way to the mysterious whereabouts of Hank’s missing wife and partner, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer).

In Ant-Man and The Wasp Scott and Hope will team up once again under the directorial eye of Peyton Reed who proved uniquely capable at balancing the dramatic and comedic sides of the first feature which played like a classic caper film. The follow-up to the franchise doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but greatly enhances the mythology and solidly places Ant-Man and The Wasp rightfully in realm of the growing number of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of which recently met their fate at the hands of the Mad Titan Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Ant-Man (Rudd) finds himself facing an enemy that’s out of phase with reality in “Ant-Man and The Wasp”.

Larger Size Action; Bigger Heart

The first Ant-Man is perhaps one of the best origin stories in the Marvel Studios pantheon; it was highly beneficial in helping to establish Scott Lang and the Ant-Man who had been largely eclipsed by the more iconic contemporaries including Thor, Hulk and the aforementioned Captain America. Even though the characters were both pioneering members among Earth’s Mightiest, both Ant-Man and The Wasp remained largely enigmatic second players. The success of Ant-Man changed all of that, and his appearance in Captain America: Civil War raised his profile.

In the premiere installment the villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) plans on selling Pym’s tech to none other than Hydra, the clandestine organization that infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. — our heroes are able to stop Cross who adapts Pym’s suit advances it into the  “Yellowjacket”. Lang emerges a true contender nimbly battling his adversary and turning an army of ants into a formidable force to be reckoned with! Stoll’s Yellowjacket will undoubtedly emerge as one of the most frightening foes, and the pair’s epic confrontation in Cassie’s playroom one of the best yet!

The supporting cast returned to join Scott, Hope and Hank on their mission to rescue Janet from her exile to the Quantum Realm, but even as they race against time another threat the mysterious Ghost (the crazy fantastic Hannah John-Kamen) is also chasing after Pym’s technology. As a young girl, the Ghost was caught in an industry explosion that placed her “out of phase” rest the rest of the world. An associate of Hank’s, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) promises to help, but it soon becomes evident that the government prefers to turn the Ghost into a secret agent.

One of the charms of the film is how heavily it relies on Marvel Comics mythology, and the elaboration of the backstory that sets up the covert missions of the original Ant-Man (Douglas) and The Wasp (Pfeiffer) with the introduction of Fishburne’s Bill Foster who also is best known to comic book fans as the size-changing hero Goliath. Rudd and Lilly have an onscreen chemistry that work on multiple levels, but establish both as inheritors of the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic narrative. No doubt that Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne will also emerge as one of the best cast roles.

The final act of Ant-Man and The Wasp as our heroes work to save the day is a phenomenally choreographed piece with Hope’s Wasp fully integrating herself into her role as a hero and Lang still navigating the intricacies of the suit, but proving his heart is bigger than most, and that he is truly one of the Marvel Universe’s most larger than life superheroes! Let’s all hope that given what’s at stake after the conclusion of Infinity War and (SPOILER ALERT) the disappearance of most of the Ant-Man family, Scott emerges the hero we all know he is!

Ant-Man and The Wasp starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas directed by Peyton Reed is currently playing in theaters.

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