Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania plays as the most significant departure for Ant-Man from his usual caper antics. His past two films have always been about him swiping something and occasionally dipping into the quantum realm for sci-fi solutions. Now trapped in the quantum realm, Ant-Man and his friends are placed on an uneven adventure that sometimes works and sometimes stumbles.
Ant-Man – The Little Guy
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) doesn’t quite feel like himself when he becomes tasked with a universe-ending problem. Instead of fighting off thieves, authorities, and super-powered villains thirsty for revenge, he’s now trying to find his way out of the quantum realm. He’s also tasked with preventing leading a revolution and preventing a multi-dimensional war of realms.
That’s some heavy stuff, but he’s thankfully not alone. Inexplicably joining him on this adventure in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), becoming more of a chip off the old block with her love of sci-fi tech and distaste for police. Scott tries to make up for lost time, but he doesn’t have to do much as Cassie easily adapts to all the superhero stuff.
The Old Gang
Also present is Scott’s lover Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). She’s still fighting alongside him as the shrinking/flying Wasp. She’s also the head of a major company making significant societal changes, but this rarely comes up past the opening act.
Bringing more of the ants back to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the Pym particle inventor, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). But his rescued wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) becomes the most exciting family member for her sordid past within the quantum realm. Despite how little this aspect is explored, she becomes the intriguing guide for this adventure.
The Bigger Bad
Ant-Man’s villain in this picture is Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), previously teased in the Loki TV series. While it’s clear that Kang will play a more significant role in shaping the future of the Avengers, it’s strange that Ant-Man is caught up in the middle of Kang’s war with the multiverse and himself. This would be fine if there were an off-beat nature where Scott could play the most unlikely hero.
The problem is that this type of story needs to be played up more seriously than one would think. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a film where the audience follows Ant-Man and company into a fantastic world of strange creatures and even stranger powers. Yet the most humor that can be extolled from this concept is mere citations of, “Hey, that one guy looks like broccoli.”
This format bodes decently for a Star Wars-style movie but not so much for a hero known for his quick wit. Consider that this is a film where Bill Murray plays a supporting character, and he has hardly anything funny to do in his only scene.
The Revolution of Realms in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Where Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania works best is in its themes of challenging authority. This is present in everything from Cassie’s defiance of the police targeting the homeless to Scott leading an uprising against Kang. It was nice to see evil defeated by refusing to leave anybody behind or sacrifice someone else for the greater good.
While it is pleasant to see that nobody in this universe has resorted to the “Thanos was right” mindset, much of this tale of revolution is rocky. This is primarily due to how many characters and creatures are shoved onto the screen, leaving little room to explore them. It makes the additions of William Jackson Harper and Katy O’Brian feel somewhat wasted as key quantum realm activists.
Wild Yet Routine Visuals
The quantum realm is teeming with visual effects for being set in a lost world. There are bizarre creatures, powers, cultures, and customs. All of it is so unbound that it rarely packs an impact, feeling almost inexplicable that a cute blob monster can eat people.
Even the trippiest sequence of AAnt-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which finds Ant-Man losing his mind while encountering an otherworldly device, is more admirable for the scene assembly than the scene itself. So much of this allure smears away the more fantastic themes of family and rebellion. By the finale, the sight of Ant-Man smashing up cities and armies feels more like sci-fi junk food.
The Next Phase
As the start of MCU’s Phase V, this film feels more like a foundational pillar for future Avengers movies than a stellar Ant-Man movie. The characters spend so much time talking about Kang and something big coming. By the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the audience has a decent idea of what’s coming down the pike, but at what cost?
Compared to what the Avengers will fight next in the big battle for the multiverse, Ant-Man feels overwhelmed by this skirmish. Scott has to shake off the dread of a new villain for this film to find any semblance of its plucky persona. All of it makes an uneven trilogy closer.
Conclusion: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the weakest of the Ant-Man movies for feeling so distant from its former self. In its place of the usual zip comes an overstuffed sci-fi fest, feeling more akin to Guardians of the Galaxy. The abundance of so much going on for setting up this new world and the fifth phase of the MCU clouds what could’ve been a better film.
There’s still some fun to be had in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. At the end of the film, there are some dazzlingly fun moments of the grand war, featuring plenty of starships, aliens, super-smart ants, and shrinking/growing Ant-Man heroes saving the day. But much like a stellar fantasy book cover, the look is more enticing than the content.
Did you see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania? What did you think? How does it compare to past Ant-Man movies? Let us know in the comments below.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be playing in theaters everywhere on February 17th, 2023.
You can check out the Hasbro Marvel Legends Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Build-A-Figure Wave here.