Coming off the heels of the brilliant “Black Panther” and epic “Avengers: Infinity War,” we have a short respite in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” or, as I like to call it, Marvel Lite. What it lacks in story or brawn, it makes up for in humor, but it never quite reaches as massive heights as when Ant-Man grows to nearly seven stories tall in the San Francisco harbor.

Paul Rudd returns as the tiny Avenger, this time joined by a more capable hero — the Wasp, played by Evangeline Lilly. Together, they must help Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) venture into the unstable quantum realm to rescue his long-lost wife, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Naturally, there is a greedy villain, played sleazily by Walton Goggins, who’s after Pym’s technology for the financial value, while a mysterious apparition named Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is chasing it for her own reasons.

Neither of the antagonists quite measure up to the challenge of the task, however, even though they are dealing with two elderly scientists, a bumbling thief in a cool suit, and a sidekick who turns out to be much more capable than our mini-hero. In other words, any of the real Avengers would have destroyed their adversaries easily.

But “Ant-Man” is a different type of superhero movie, isn’t it? More Paul Rudd and less Thanos. You know what I mean. Michael Pena returns as Luis, the wisecracking friend of Scott’s who at first seems unbearably annoying in his speedy quips, but it really does grow on you, and, in one particular scene, he redeems himself completely with the help of Rudd and Lilly. The film delivers on its promise from the previews, but don’t expect anything more than a mediocre good time.

Director Peyton Reed reprises his role manipulating the sizes of all types of objects:  human, insect and even Pez dispenser. He must have had a ball playing with these ideas, but the whole quantum realm thing gets a little out of hand with the half-hearted explanation of the scientific process. The action scenes were fun and effects were pretty cool, but there was something missing. I’m not sure if it’s so much that something was actually missing as it was just slightly unsatisfying and underwhelming. Unfortunately, even some of the effects seemed a bit beneath Marvel’s abilities.   

Writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have been busy, with hits “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “The Lego Batman Movie” on their resume just in the last year and a half, so maybe they were feeling burned out and just cranked out what they could, putting too much focus on the witty repartee and not enough on the conflict.  

As we’ve seen recently, the minds behind Marvel have an endgame in mind for the current band of Avengers, and Ant-Man and the Wasp are no exception. Going into the agonizing dry spell until the next installment, we are given time to contemplate and speculate where the heroes have gone, which is great for business.

Next March, we will meet a game-changer in “Captain Marvel” (Brie Larson), and then we can all collectively exhale when we learn the true fate of our favorite heroes in May’s “Avengers 4.”

What’s next for the franchise? Well, as the post-credits scene suggests, this film fits right in where “Infinity War” left off, and will up the stakes even more as we wait for next May. I suppose they can’t all be winners, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is definitely what I would call low-hanging fruit in the MCEU. Not the worst one we’ve seen, but definitely could have been better. But just like ice cream, Marvel movies are good even when they are bad.