As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. And that’s fitting for “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the latest superhero entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the last one for this year. See it because the movie ties into the events that happened in the recent “Avengers: Infinity War,” but don’t expect any solid answers as to what comes next. For those playing along at home, there are definitely clues to how this saga might shake out.


“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is very much a comedy that serves as a salve to soothe the emotional distress Thanos left in his finger-snapping wake. With Paul Rudd back as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and returning director Peyton Reed (“Yes Man”) in the driver’s seat, there is a high level of self-deprecation, self-awareness and even a bit of romance at play. This movie knows its role and executes it accordingly.


Lang, the jail-bird-turned-superhero who has the ability to shrink in size but increase in strength, reluctantly reunites with Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and her scientist-inventor father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), one of the founding Avengers, to rescue Hope’s long-lost mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), from the Quantum Realm, a mysterious dimension. The script pits Pym, Lang and van Dyne against the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who has the ability to move through solid matter. Another bug up our heroes’ butts is the nefarious Sonny Burch, who traffics black market tech and is played with glee by Walton Goggins.


Credited to five writers, including Rudd, the script is punched up with snark, quips and banter that will have you laughing out loud. When the dialogue gets too science-y with terms like “quantum entanglement,” “quantum energy,” “quantum anomaly,” etc., Rudd deadpans “do you guys just put the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything?”


When the movie opens, Lang is under house arrest for violating the Sokovia Accords, an infraction that occurred when he traveled to Germany to help Captain America in the “Civil War” flick. He’s now three days away from freedom and has a lot at stake with a security start-up called X-Con — founded with buddies Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian and Michael Peña, all reprising their roles — but mainly he is focused on being a good dad to his 10-year-old daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). “Easy-peasy,” Lang says about riding out the final 72 hours of his sentence. Famous last words, naturally.


With “Black Panther” earlier this year, we had the first black superhero to have his own movie and in continuing with a year of milestones, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” marks the first Marvel flick to feature a female superhero in its title. It only took 10 years and 20 films, but thumbs up to progress. And Lily’s Wasp earns her superhero butt-kicking bona fides, so much so that I’d pick her in a one-on-one against Ant-Man. The movie’s first major fight sequence — and it’s a good one — also belongs to Wasp. Outfitted with wings and blasters, she tangles with Sonny’s thugs and the Ghost. Both are antsy to get their hands on Pym’s portable lab, which, with the push of a remote control button, he can shrink to the size of a rolling suitcase for transport. The lab is this film’s MacGuffin and it gets tossed around from person to person like a hot potato.


Director Reed again relies on the charm, cuteness and comedic-timing of Rudd, an unlikely superhero choice, but the casting works. Rudd is game, too, for whatever is thrown at him, including a glitchy new suit that can make him huge and tiny, and in one inspired bit he poses as a young elementary school student. Whatever his size, and Reed plays with scale and proportion a lot, Rudd is terrific in and out of the ant suit, enough that you forgive the slapdash plotting. Douglas’ Oscar-winning presence adds heft. He’s an old pro having a good time. The cast also features Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale returning as Lang’s ex-wife and her husband; Jimmy Woo as a bumbling police officer; and new to this movie is Laurence Fishburne, playing Dr. Bill Foster, Hank’s former colleague at S.H.I.E.L.D.


Per usual, be sure to stick around for the bonus scenes after the credits, which suggest that “Ant-Man,” although small, has a mighty mission ahead.


— Dana Barbuto may be reached at dbarbuto@patriotledger.com or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.