Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, says the functions of a good website are neither explained nor self-explanatory, they are self-evident.
In Ant-man and the Wasp, the sequences filled with exposition are excruciating because in them, the fake science is explained.
I felt a bit better when the fake science was lampshaded: “Do you guys just put ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” (My thought exactly!)
I felt even better during the action sequences, when the effects of the fake science were delightfully self-evident.
See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.
My beat sheet for Ant-man and the Wasp
Scientist Hank Pym and his daughter Hope are in a lab building a quantum tunnel, hoping to use it to rescue Hank’s wife from the quantum realm, where she disappeared in the course of disabling a missile years previously, as we know from watching Ant-man.
Scott and his daughter are exploring an ant tunnel made of boxes.
Scott is (precariously) on house arrest because of the events of Captain America: Civil War. He took the ant man suit and fought in Germany in that big airport battle. The FBI comes down on him for accidentally setting foot outside the established perimeter. If he’s caught violating house arrest again, he will go to prison for years, which would tragically separate him from his young daughter.
Scott, relaxing in the bathtub in an attempt to make the most of his boring confinement, has a kind of dream where he sees Hank’s wife and then becomes her. He walks through Hank’s house looking for a little girl, who turns out to be hiding in a red wardrobe (a piece of furniture like a closet on feet). Scott phones Hank (who he isn’t supposed to talk to at all) and leaves a message about his weird dream. Hank and Hope show up and kidnap him, believing he has information they need to find Hank’s wife. They show him their lab, but then shrink it and bring it with them (which they shouldn’t be able to do, given its mass).
Hank and Hope have left a pre-programmed giant ant in Scott’s house to fool the FBI into thinking Scott is still at home, but Scott is still nervous about being caught away from home. Hank and Hope won’t let him go. Hope tries to buy a special high-tech part she needs for the machine, but the dealer wants a stake in the lab in exchange. A fight ensues (involving a giant salt shaker), and we get a glimpse of some kind of weird, ghost-like enemy, who makes off with the lab.
Break into Two
Scott says he has the Ant-man suit, which can maybe be used to track the stolen lab.
Fun and Games / B Story
Scott and Hope retrieve the suit from its hiding place inside a trophy Scott’s daughter has taken to school for show and tell. The mission is difficult because Scott is wearing a faulty prototype suit that alternately makes him too big or too small.
Hank takes Scott and Hope to visit a former research partner, whose insight helps them use the suit to locate the lab.
Trying to retrieve the lab from the Ghost, Scott and his team are captured by the Ghost, who is the victim of a quantum accident and suffers constant pain. Hank’s former partner is trying to help her regain a normal life. She wants to use Hank’s technology to drain quantum energy from Hank’s wife. Scott and friends still manage to escape with the lab using sizing discs disguised as medicine in an Altoids tin.
Bad Guys Close In
Hank and Hope set up the tunnel in the lab in a hidden location, and Scott hilariously becomes Hank’s wife, assisting in configuring the equipment. Meanwhile, the tech dealer is questioning Scott’s business associates using something that is not truth serum but sure acts like truth serum. We are treated to an anecdote told by several different characters all using Luis’s voice. Separately, Ghost tells Hank’s former partner she will go after Scott’s daughter if he blocks her attempt to use the quantum tunnel.
All Is Lost
Because Scott told Luis where the lab was, and Luis told the tech dealer, and the tech dealer told the FBI, Hank and Hope find themselves surrounded by the FBI. The tech dealer steals the lab while the FBI arrest Hank and Hope. The clock is ticking: there’s only a short window when Hank will be able to find his wife.
Dark Night of the Soul
Scott talks to his daughter, who reminds him that even though he makes mistakes, it’s good that he wants to help people.
Break into Three
Scott leaves home to be Ant-man again to try to get the lab back. He frees Hank and Hope from the FBI and the chase is on.
During a bizarre downtown San Francisco car chase (involving a giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser), Scott becomes super huge, fights off Ghost and the tech dealer, and recaptures the lab. The lab is restored to full-size and the vehicle in the quantum realm is summoned home, in spite of further interference from Hank’s former partner and Ghost. Hope saves Scott from drowning, and Hank brings his wife back safely for a reunion with their daughter. Hank’s wife shares some quantum energy with Ghost to relieve her pain.
Scott makes it back home in time for the FBI to find him right where he’s supposed to be.
Hank and his wife and daughter have put a miniature quantum tunnel in a brown van. They send Scott to collect some quantum juice for Ghost, but before they can call him back, they all dissolve into brown flakes, leaving Scott trapped in the quantum realm. Thanks a lot, Thanos!