The Wasp helps Marvel look at its feminine side

When moviegoers think of one of the 20 Marvel movies, Ant-Man does not leap to mind first.
But, like the others, it was successful – probably more so than you might recall.

About the film
Worldwide, Ant-Man took in over $519 million, including $180.2 million in America.
And his return – now teamed with the Wasp – is on pace to do even better.
Marvel Studios has officially released 20 movies as part of its multi-phase MCU, Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But, altogether, there have been 53 Marvel movies released from a variety of studios. (Only 52 have box office results; the take for Man-Thing [2005] is unknown since it was barely released by Lionsgate.)
Focusing on how well movies have done in the U.S., here are the top five:
1. Black Panther (2018, Movie Man No. 1294, 6) – $699.9 million (and still in very limited release to get it to the vaunted $700 million mark)
2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018, MM #1304, 8) – $674.8 million
3. The Avengers (2012, MM #981, 8) – $623.4 million
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015, MM # 1138, 7) – $459 million
5. Iron Man 3 (2013, MM #1034, 6) – $409 million
The titles change when inflation is factored in:
1. The Avengers – $704.2 million
2. Black Panther – $699.9 million
3. Avengers: Infinity War – $674.8 million
4. Spider-Man (2002, MM #454, 8) – $636.5 million
5. Spider-Man 2 (2004, MM #567, 8) – $551.1 million
Now, here are the most popular Marvel movies worldwide (not adjusted for inflation):
1. Avengers: Infinity War – $2.04 billion
2. The Avengers – $1.15 billion
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $1.41 billion
4. Black Panther – $1.35 billion
5. Iron Man 3 – $1.22 billion
(There’s a sixth Marvel movie in the billion dollar club: Captain America: Civil War [2016, MM #1201, 7] – $1.15 billion.)
Curious about the bottom?
Adjusted for inflation, in America, the least successful Marvel movies are:
1. Punisher: War Zone (2008) – $10.3 million
2. Elektra (2005, MM #595, 3) – $34.9 million
3. Howard the Duck (1986) – $40.2 million
4. The Punisher (2004) – $49.9 million
5. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012, MM #970, 5) – $59.8 million
Of the 53/52 Marvel movies, it looks like Ant-Man and the Wasp will reach into the $220 million range of so, putting it in the top 30 – not bad.

The plot
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is just about through with his three years of house arrest after helping out (illegally) the Avengers.
In hiding are Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) and her scientist father Hank (Michael Douglas).
Douglas thinks he might now be able to find his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) who, long ago, disappeared into the dreaded subatomic Quantum Realm when performing duties as the original Wasp.
Douglas and Lilly think Rudd can contact and fetch Pfeiffer – but the machine they have built is being sought after by the evil Burch (Walton Goggins).
The heroic trio must avoid him and his henchmen as well as the feds as they try to retrieve Pfeiffer.

What works
Rudd, so happy-go-lucky, makes a good Ant-Man. (He would have been a good Spider-Man, too.) He’s funny and endearing.
Lilly is strong here as Marvel tries to achieve the female presence that D.C. has managed with Wonder Woman (2017, MM #2257, 7).
That will likely happen with the second installment of Avengers: Infinity War when Captain Marvel – that comic company’s answer to Superman – saves the day next year.
For now, Lilly is forceful as the Wasp and every bit the equal of Ant-Man.
The shrinking and growing of objects and people look cool onscreen.
You’ve seen almost all the action scenes if you’ve seen the trailer – but they look groovier in 3-D (especially the Quantum Realm).
One non-violent scene that’s fun shows how Rudd, under house arrest for years, entertains himself – including by learning close-up magic.

Best scene
It’s the first stinger, which comes soon after the end credits begin rolling.
If you know what’s coming, then it loses its clout; the Movie Man, avoiding potential spoilers in advance, did not.
Rudd is in the subatomic world and he’s ready to come out, but the Pyms don’t retrieve him – for a very good reason.
Even the second stinger, at the very end, is decent. It seems just a quick throwaway at first – an ant drumming – but the earlier soundtrack sounds reinforce the first stinger.
What doesn’t work
The villain, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), isn’t that great. She wobbles from nearly invincible to not so much.
Don’t expect Ant-Man and the Wasp to be an action-packed, Avengers-esque thrill ride. It’s more of a family movie and that might take some viewer aback.

The rating
You won’t find a weaker PG-13; it’s for language and just a few utterances.

Summing up
This is the usual, solid Marvel – which means it’s pretty good.

Next up
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. Sorry, The Rock (Skyscraper).