On the heels of a three-billion-dollar plus 2018 following the release of megahits Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War (already the respective ninth and fourth highest grossing films of all time), the year of Marvel continues with Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly back for Ant-Man and The Wasp, sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man and entry number twenty in the behemoth film enterprise that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With no pressure to save the world or guard the galaxy in his third go-round as the MCU’s resident comedian, Rudd shines in a light-hearted action-comedy fun for the whole family (much appreciated after the sombre ending to Infinity War). Explaining his absence from said film and proving once again heroes come in all shapes and sizes, life is about to get a whole lot weirder for Scott Lang – Full-time father, part-time superhero.

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Under house arrest for the past two years following the aftermath of assisting Captain America in an infamous German airport battle with the Avengers, Scott Lang (Rudd) lives with the consequences of his choice to be both superhero and father to daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston). Struggling to balance his home life with the responsibilities of being Ant-Man, things become more complicated when former allies Hope van Dyne (Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) enlist his help with an urgent time-sensitive mission. Working together with the father and daughter pair on a plan that involves re-entering the Quantum Realm and protecting Pym’s tech, Scott suits up alongside Hope as The Wasp, together using their astonishing ability of shrinking to fend off interested parties and fool the FBI into thinking he never left the house.

From a film studio that knows exactly what its fans want and how to please them, it’s no surprise that after ten years and twenty movies, the hits keep on coming. With no signs of slowing down anytime soon and multiple films currently in development, you’d be forgiven if you’re of the thinking you have to have seen them all to understand what’s going on, but thankfully for causal viewers and the not-so-acquainted alike, that’s not always the case.

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Doing a remarkable job of keeping each new chapter of this ever expanding universe grounded as its own singular adventure despite a magnitude of continuous plot lines and references, it becomes obvious Marvel Studios are always in the market to pick up new audiences. Allowing their characters to have their own individual solo outings in between the mammoth team-up flicks and still birthing life into new characters previously unheard of each couple years (Captain Marvel in 2019), it certainly helps with the peppering of fan service.

The beauty of Ant-Man and specifically Paul Rudd in his shoes makes it clear that even in his own sequel and third appearance in the series, first-time viewers are still in for a treat, one which if they enjoy enough, a back catalogue of what’s come before is awaiting their viewing pleasure when and if they choose.

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With a career that includes comedy classics like Anchorman and Knocked Up, it’s no secret Rudd is one of the funniest and most watchable actors we’ve had the privilege of being entertained by these last few decades. The charming performer anyone who knows good movies will tell you they love, Ant-Man just wouldn’t work without him. Unmatched by any of his fellow superhero actors within the MCU, he just fits the mould of a hilarious everyday father who also happens to be a superhero like no other could. With an ability to switch between comedy, drama and action with ease while charming the pants off movie goers the world over, he shares the screen well with Lilly and Douglas (all three of which are terrific together) and shares several touching father-daughter moments with young-co star Ryder Forston, helping make this instalment more than just a by-the-numbers superhero movie in a world admittedly experiencing fatigue in that category of cinema.

Playing round with the idea of shrinking between small and big and the various ways that can be amusing from a tin of real cars inside a hot wheels case waiting to be blown up to scale, a giant Pez dispenser and the return of Gi-Ant Man seen in Captain America: Civil War, an Inception style scene with different levels of shrinking is worth the price of admission alone.

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Co-starring the likes of well known stars and familiar faces Michelle Pfeiffer, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Randall Park and the brilliant Walton Goggins as an eccentric businessman after Pym’s tech, it’s almost impossible to talk about an Ant-Man film without mentioning how good Michael Peña is again, stealing just about every scene he’s in and hilariously re-creating his love of telling stories from the first.

With Douglas once again relishing his role as genius scientist Hank Pym, Lilly kicking ass as the first Marvel heroine to be in the title and Rudd also co-writing a film he leads expertly, Ant-Man and The Wasp is an entertaining thrill ride well worth the ANTicipation. The family film of the MCU filled with more heart than fighting bad guys and again set against the backdrop of the beautiful San Francisco, be sure to stay for the end credits to see how this one paves the way for next year’s Avengers 4, in which Scott and his alter ago are set to play a pivotal role.

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