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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ant-Man and the Wasp is Marvel's sequel to Ant-Man. It takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and is less intense and less violent than either of those films. Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang, who's under house arrest and at odds with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) as the movie opens. The biggest issue here is the action violence; there's plenty of it, though not on the scale of many other Marvel movies. Still, you can expect frequent peril/danger, hand-to-hand combat (with weapons including guns and knives), abductions, and destructive chase sequences. Children are shown hurt, sad, and losing their parents in flashback, and people are injured, but (spoiler alert) no major characters are killed. Language isn't frequent but includes "s--t," "ass," and "damn"; on the romance front, there are a few quick kisses between established couples. Like the original, this is a fun, lightweight Avengers adventure, with lots of jokes and less death and destruction. It also promotes forgiveness, redemption, courage, and teamwork -- and marks the first time a female superhero has been included in the title of a Marvel film.
What's the story?
In the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is stuck counting the days until his house arrest -- the consequence of his decision to come to Cap's aid in Civil War -- is finally over. And his former associates Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), are on the run from the authorities, using their advanced quantum technology techniques to run, staff, and hide an ant-maintained lab. When Hope and Hank discover that there's a possibility that Hank's long-missing wife, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), is still alive somewhere in the Quantum Realm (which Scott visited briefly in Ant-Man), they strong-arm the reformed crook into helping them locate and rescue her. Complicating matters are two villains: smarmy black market broker Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), whose rich clients want Pym's technology for themselves, and The Ghost, aka Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), who painfully phases in and out of the physical realm and blames Pym for her affliction.
Is it any good?
This comparatively lighthearted, optimistic sequel provides the laughs Marvel fans may well be craving after the heartbreaking intensity of Infinity War. Rudd's Scott has changed since Ant-Man: He now runs the hilariously named X-Con Security with his comic-relief sidekicks (and fellow ex-cons) Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian), and he sees his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), on a regular basis. His sense of superhero obligation has also expanded beyond Pym's scope; he did what he needed to do on Team Cap. The movie's (many) Marvel references will remind viewers of Ant-Man's relatively minor position in the Avengers universe, but, for once, that's a good thing. You can sit back and laugh at the jokes (yes, Luis delivers one of his signature loopy long stories), even if you don't quite buy the scientific explanations.
There isn't really a need for two separate "baddies" to follow Ant-Man and company -- but, then again, a smuggler isn't nearly as compelling as a young woman whose only crime was being, like Hope, the daughter of an ambitious scientist. Laurence Fishburne joins the cast as Dr. Bill Foster, another former partner of Pym's with a bone to pick (apparently Hank was so egomaniacal that he lost a lot of associates and friends along the way). Despite Fishburne's considerable comedic talents, he's a straight man here. Pfeiffer stands out in her scenes, mostly because Janet is far more charismatic than Hank or Hope. (And Janet's psychic connection to Scott leads to a funny scene in which she basically takes over his body.) John-Kamen is formidable as The Ghost; it's difficult to fault her for hating Hank and wanting him to pay for her painful existence. Bottom line? For more of Rudd's charm, some genuine laughs, and a hopeful mission (who can't root for a team that wants to rescue Mom?), this sequel is a win -- if not a Marvel masterpiece.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Ant-Man and the Wasp. How does it compare to the other Avengers movies? Is the impact of close-up, weapons-based combat different from that of wide-scale chase scenes that cause lots of property destruction and unseen injuries/deaths?
How does this movie's intensity level compare to that of other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? Do you like or dislike that it has a lighter feel than some of the other MCU movies?
Did you know that this movie is the first MCU film to include a female superhero in the title? How does the Wasp compare to Ant-Man? Are they equals?
- In theaters: July 6, 2018
- Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas
- Director: Peyton Reed
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sci-fi action violence
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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For kids who love superheroes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.