If you felt Infinity War was bad - like a slog to get through - then you really have to see Ant-Man and the Wasp. Rather than handle the big issues of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the sequel to 2015's Ant-Man earns a place as one of the best Marvel movies by putting characters first and letting them tell a personal story. It builds a tight, small-scale adventure while still providing plenty of clues and Easter eggs for Marvel fans who know what they're seeking.
Infinity War left many open-ended questions, such as: What happened to half the population of the universe? Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn't tie up any of those loose ends, but it's not trying to, either. This makes it a much-needed break from the rest of the MCU. Before you read further to find out what Ant-Man and the Wasp gets right: There are plenty of spoilers ahead for both Infinity War and the Ant-Man sequel. Consider yourself warned.
With heroes spread across the planet and in several different corners of the cosmos, Infinity War jumps among so many plotlines, the film becomes hard to follow. This isn't the case with Ant-Man and the Wasp. This film has a single driving plot barreling toward its climax with reckless abandon.
With every side story in Infinity War telling a sliver of the overarching narrative, it's challenging to keep all the plot strings straight. Instead of trying to keep track of six Infinity Stones, Ant-Man and the Wasp focuses on a single MacGuffin - a multistory lab able to shrink to the size of a suitcase - and has the time to show why it's so valuable.
Female characters in Ant-Man and the Wasp play a central role in the action and plot, whereas the women of Infinity War move to the side so the guys can fight. The latter movie kills off Gamora to make Peter Quill angrier than usual, as well as reduces Scarlet Witch to a contingency plan for destroying the Mind Stone. Black Widow also hangs around, but barely. With Wasp, Ghost, and Janet van Dyne, the Ant-Man sequel features female characters capable on their own, taking an active role in the story.
Aside from a few lighthearted moments involving the Guardians and Thor, Infinity War leans on a dire, depressing tone reminiscent of the bleak DCEU. The movie starts with Loki's death, and things get darker from there.
Ant-Man and the Wasp never lets itself get so low, rarely taking itself too seriously. The film is light without feeling disposable. Director Peyton Reed and the cast give the movie an emotional touch that compels the audience to feel buoyant instead of smothered under the weight of an overly serious plot.
Every character, from Scott Lang down to his buddy Luis, gets their own narrative in the film, which is a stark contrast to the rest of the big Marvel team-up movies. When Thanos snaps his fingers in Infinity War, barely any of the 30 heroes - even Captain America - has an appropriate amount of time to respond. However, with fewer characters to serve in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the script gives everyone an arc with sufficient payoff before the credits roll.