This being the first MCU film to have a woman hero's name finally appearing in the title has already gotten it some love from the fanbase. Bonus points for both this movie taking the release date that was originally scheduled for Captain Marvel to make up for that movie being delayed and the eponymous Wasp (albeit Janet) being the first-ever female Avenger in the comics.
Hope's absence in Captain America: Civil War is explained by Scott not having enough time to ask her to join him in assisting Cap, what with "them" (likely Clint and Wanda) showing up very suddenly at his door.
Hope also starts out the movie already broken up with Scott, after many complaints about their hooking up at the end of the first movie coming out of nowhere and clearly only happening because that's the rule about the male and female leads in an action movie. More effort is also put into establishing some kind of attraction between them.
Yellowjacket received criticism as yet another Marvel villain with the same abilities as his enemy, so Peyton Reed made sure to give this movie a villain with more unique powers to that of the protagonists. Better yet, her suit is not the source of her abilities like our titular heroes but a means of trying to control it and dampen the pain she's in.
Like Zemo, Mordo, Ego, Vulture, Hela, Killmonger, and Thanos before her, Ghost is yet another attempt to address the criticism that the MCU Phase 2 villains were Flat Characters who had little depth or sympathetic traits and were defined as "being evil". Ghost has been praised for her sympathetic portrayal, in-depth backstory, and the fact that (as mentioned above) she has a distinct power set compared to the two heroes. In fact, she gets to live and many hope to see her again, potentially in a Thunderbolts movie.
Although it's less a problem with the MCU specifically than the entire superhero genre itself, some critics have lamented that after nineteen previous Marvel movies (with the exception of Doctor Strange) ending with a long drawn-out duel between the hero or heroes and the villain, the "standard superhero climax" is getting a little stale. This one mixes up the formula a little by doing it as a Chase Scene instead of a straightforward brawl, and throwing a third faction into the mix with the presence of Sonny Burch.
Awesome Music: Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's hip-hop classic "It Takes Two" plays in the second trailer, and fits the theme of the movie perfectly.
Character Rerailment: While the first Ant-Man had a rosier portrayal of Hank Pym than usual, this movie makes it clear that he was a jerk or at least at times difficult person to be around before he became a father. As Bill Foster and Ghost can both attest to, although there is a bit of Unreliable Expositor at play.
Crack Pairing: Some fans have started shipping Ava/Ghost withJanet van Dyne, thanks to their intense emotional chemistry in the scene where Janet fixes Ava's disease by gently touching her face, speaking softly to her, looking deep into her eyes and holding her close while Ava looks like she's about to cry. It helps that Michelle Pfeiffer looks fantastic for her age.
In The Stinger, after Hope, Hank, and Janet are shown to be among those disintegrated by Thanos's Badass Fingersnap, the screen shows "Ant-Man and The Wasp will return"... before putting a question mark at the end.
And in between the above, there are several shots of Scott's house, completely still and lifeless while an emergency broadcast plays on the television... and the giant ant is still playing Scott's drums.
When Scott tries to hitch a ride on an ant on the climax, it's a little dark but still funny when said ant gets immediately eaten by a seagull. It goes from "morbid but funny" to hilarious when he summons half a dozen more... and every single one of them also gets eaten by a seagull.
Before the movie came out, fans speculated that Ghost's Age Lift, Race Lift and Gender Flip from being a old white man to a young biracial woman wasn't just cosmetic but actually integrated into the story, where similar to the titular Ant-Man and the Wasp, Ghost is a Legacy Character who carries on the mantle of the original. This turned out not to be the case, as Ghost is shown to gain her powers through a freak accident, and her father was just a regular scientist. There is, however, a level of Mythology Gag at play here, since said scientist is an established Marvel villain from the comics (albeit one with no relation to Ghost).
Cassie's line about wanting to fight crime just like her dad, combined with a number of other factors but most of all being her returning in Avengers: Endgame complete with a new teenage actress, has added to the fan theory that she will grow up to become Stature or Stinger. Speculation goes even further by Feige outright stating that Cassie Lang was put to "plant seeds" for the future like they always do. And then her original actress Abby Ryder-Fortson outright stated in an interview that this is the most likely arc. And the ending scene really did allude to the idea of Cassie growing up to be a superhero like her father.
Abby Ryder-Fortson: I think in this movie she really shows that she's really interested in becoming a superhero. In the last movie, she doesn't really wrap her head around it, so in this movie, she really wants to fight with her dad.
Downplayed with, post-Infinity War, expectations that The Stinger or even the main action will feature a Sudden Downer Ending in which one or more characters dies thanks to Thanos' finger snap. Or worse — Scott and Hope finally come around to their feelings for each other, only for just one of them to disappear. They were right, and the truth is even worse: the entire Pym family disappears while Scott is trapped in the Quantum Realm.
The original Ant-Man made brief mention of how time and space have no meaning in the Quantum Realm. When production photos of the set of Avengers: Endgame were released, showing Scott in his latest Ant-Man suit and Steve Rogers in his The Avengers-era duds, fans speculated that the Quantum Realm would be key to Time Travel and a possible solution to the Snap. When Janet casually throws away a line in The Stinger about "time vortexes", this speculation gained considerable ground.
Janet's line about her newfound powers having been gained through "evolution" has led to the theory that this was Marvel planting seeds for the X-Men to join the MCU, with Janet being the first legitimate Mutant shown onscreen. While the exact timeline isn't quite clear, the movie was filmed from August to November of 2017 while Disney announced their plans to buy Fox that same month, and it became official in December. Whether they knew the plan back then is unsure, but if it is, it's believed to have been a very sneaky way of including foreshadowing through a line just vague enough not to be tied specifically to the X-Men. It should also be noted that Ultimate Marvel Janet is, in fact, a mutant.
Some suspect that a Thunderbolts movie is being set up here, due to Ghost surviving the ending, while her comics counterpart is a well-known member, and she ultimately sets out for redemption just like the theme of the comic. In fact, Hannah John-Kamen has said she would love to reprise Ghost for Thunderbolts in the future.
Evil Is Cool: A lot of fans took quickly to Ghost from what little was seen of her in the trailers. When the movie came out, she didn't squander her potential, being a highly competent, badass, and sympathetic Dark Action Girlwho ends up getting away with it in the end when Janet stabilizes her powers and lets her escape.
SonnyBurch is a disreputable, ruthless and slimy arms dealer, but he positively oozes style. It's quite possibly Walton Goggins' suavest performance ever.
Janet van Dynes 30 years wandering the Quantum Realm are ripe for speculation.
Hope comments that the airport fight for Civil War would have gone much differently had she been there. Cue the Alternate Universe Fics describing timelines where she had.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Some fans saw more chemistry in the scene where Scott officially meets Ava than between him and Hope throughout most of the movie.
Foe Yay: Ava Starr/Ghost seems very... interested in Scott after she captures him, with her curiously staring at Scott until he wakes up (in contrast with Hope and Hank, both of whom Ava forcibly wakes up by hitting them in their backs) and creepily invading his personal space.
Before Ant-Man premiered, Marvel announced a Phase 3 schedule that didn't contain any sign of a sequel, but did promote a movie starring The Inhumans. The latter ended up having such a Troubled Production, that the Inhumans got relegated to their own TV show, while Ant-Man became surprisingly successful (especially considering it had a director change), enough for Marvel to greenlight a sequel. Prior to its release, the Inhumans TV show ended up faltering harder among critics and audiences than did the first two Ant-Man films, or indeed any part of the MCU to date.
Stan Lee made a cameo on Fresh Off the Boat about two months before the announcement of Randall Park's casting in Ant-Man and the Wasp, enjoying a comic that Park's character's sons wrote about their family.
It makes all the talk that the MCU and DCEU can't share actors this in effect, combined with the "Holy Shit!" Quotient at the general shock of his announcement.
Amusingly, this goes the other way, too. In the same year that Fishburne jumped ship to the MCU, Randall Park (Jimmy Woo) would later star in the DCEU's Aquaman. Then a year later, it was announced that David Dastmalchian (Kurt) would play the villainous Polka-Dot Man in James Gunn's Suicide Squad sequel.
Back when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, there were many complaints about Ultron being Tony's creation rather than Hank's, making the MCU even more Iron Man-centric at the cost of one of Hank / Ant-Man's defining character moments. Now, the second Ant-Man movie has Scott going up against Ghost and Sonny Burch, villains typically associated with Iron Man.
Pfeiffer (known for playing Catwoman, a supervillain, in Batman Returns) is now getting to play The Wasp, a hero. This was particularly hilarious as one of her co-stars in Batman Returns, Michael Keaton, two weeks before the announcement of Pfeiffer's casting, went from playing Batman, a superhero, in the 1989 Batman film to fighting another iconic superhero, Spider-Man, in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Bonus points to how Keaton fought a bug-themed hero, while Pfeiffer plays (and assists) a bug-themed hero.
Related to the above, the main reason why Keaton chose that surname for his stage name was because his birth name was Michael John Douglas and that there was already another actor named Michael Douglas — who plays The Wasp's husband Hank Pym in the Ant-Man movies. In other words, Pfeiffer can brag about dating two characters played by guys named Michael Douglas.
Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd previously appeared together in I Could Never Be Your Woman... as lovers. One would hope that it doesn't cause any trouble between Jan, Hope, and Scott. In the actual film, Scott mistakenly thought that Hank is asking him if he "entangled" Janet in the Quantum Realm.
Hank: We think when you were down there, you may have entangled with her. Scott: Hank, I would never do that. I respect you too much.
The first trailer featured Hank shrinking a building and carrying it with him. Later that day, an episode of The Flash (2014) featured a bad guy with the ability to shrink things, and the first thing he does is, yep, shrink a building. This has shades of the Arrowverse once again scooping the MCU, as in 2016 when their resident shrinking hero, The Atom, went giant-sized for the first time a week before Ant-Man did in Captain America: Civil War.
Casting Randall Park as Jimmy Woo means that Asian Jim has joined Tim, Jim's UK counterpart, in the MCU before regular Jim.note whose actor, John Krasinski, was previously in the running for Captain America, and is a favorite choice of MCU fans for playing Reed Richards, having expressed interest in the part
When Janet temporarily takes control of Scott's body, she holds her husband's hand. After Scott regains control, he is still holding Hank's hand and even questions about it. Despite the awkward situation, Hank doesn't even let go until Scott does.
Jimmy seems cautiously interested when he mistakenly thinks Scott is asking him out to dinner.
Innocuously Important Episode: This movie seemed like a spin-off at best upon release, considering it wasn't even part of Marvel's original Phase 3 slate, but it introduces aspects of the Quantum Realm that become critical to the plot of Avengers: Endgame and set the stage for the Avengers to restore the half the universe wiped out by Thanos.
Memetic Mutation: Spinning off from a similar meme from Infinity War, "Ant-Man and the Wasp Spoilers Without Context", which usually includes magic card tricks, "World's Greatest Grandma" trophies, Lombard Street and syringes.
MST3K Mantra: After Ghost gets Hank's building, she sets it up in an abandoned lot in the middle of San Francisco. The FBI is currently on a hunt for it. San Francisco is a famously cramped and surveyed city, so a building appearing within its limits would be noticed immediately, even regardless of the FBI looking for it in particular. None of this should take away from your enjoyment of the movie at all.
Narm: When Hank meets Janet in the Quantum Realm, she's wearing flawless makeup. It's not impossible that she managed to scrounge something together — she's clearly been eating and drinking and getting clothes, after all — but it may be a tad jarring.
Retroactive Recognition: Fans of College Humor's "If Google Was A Guy" will recognize Brian Huskey as the teacher who asks Mini-Scott for his hall pass.Randall Park (Agent Woo) also had a cameo as "Bing" in episode two of the web-series.
At one point, Ava plans to take Scott's daughter hostage to get Scott to bring the building with the Quantum Tunnel to them. Bill is adamant that she cannot do such a thing and that he will stop helping her if she tries. She grudgingly drops it. One might expect that this would come up again later in the movie, but it never is even mentioned again. It does serve to show that Bill has lines he won't cross and how desperate Ava is, but it might hang awkwardly over the rest of the movie for viewers who might expect it to become relevant again. Then again, a payoff might've felt too reminiscent of Cassie becoming a hostage in the previous movie.
In the previous film, Darren Cross was revealed to be selling the Pym Particles to HYDRA, and towards the end of the film, HYDRA's agents had gotten away with a container of them, leaving it obviously as a Sequel Hook. In the sequel, the Sequel Hook is never once mentioned despite being a major part of the first film's plot. The film itself also skirts around HYDRA's existence by having Bill Foster mention S.H.I.E.L.D. being responsible for Ghost being the way she is, but considering what orders she was given, it seemed like an opportunity to use HYDRA as the real Big Bad of the movie to remind moviegoers of their existence.
The inclusion of Jimmy Woo has caught quite a few fans by surprise, as he has very few connections to Ant-Man or the Wasp in the comics.
Ghost is an older male Iron Man villain, who isn't even well-known, and his nemesis's actor was explicitly done with solo movies, which made the idea of Ghost appearing the MCU even more unlikely, and he has never tangled with Ant-Man in the comics. Naturally, Ghost is used as the main villain combatant for this movie, albeit re-imagined as a younger female villain.
Sonny Burch is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who has menaced Stark but not any version of Ant-Man. He was also pretty recent at the time (only debuting in 2003) and is even more obscure than Ghost (not even warranting his own Wikipedia page).
Try Unexpected Actor. Many people were shocked when Laurence Fishburne was announced to play Bill Foster; no-one expected him to be appear in a Marvel film while still playing an important Superman character in a different setting. While smaller actors crossing between various cinematic superhero settings has happened before, Fishburne is, by a long shot, the most high-profile example of an actor crossing superhero franchises while still being committed to the other one.
The Un-Twist: Janet Van Dyne sends a vision to Scott earlier in the film and later takes control of his body without his permission. When Hank meets her, she spouts some ominous lines about surviving that long in the Quantum realm, and not only adapting, but evolving as well. The stage seems to be set for some kind of Came Back Wrong, or even being an impostor (especially if you've seen Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Hive storyline), but nope, it's actually Janet, she's perfectly fine, and she heals Ava with only a tiny modicum of effort.
The MCU's amazing de-aging effects are brought back for flashbacks featuring Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer. And, like in previous outings, the actors look uncannily like themselves from 30 years ago.
Downplayed example, but while the first official photo of the Wasp's new costume was generally well received, there was some criticism over the lack of yellow or gold on the body. Later photos of the suit did show it has quite a bit of gold, suggesting the original picture suffered from poor lighting.