The things that set the Ant-Man films apart from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were cheeky humor and a slam-bang heist spirit that more than made them memorable and endlessly watchable. Ant-Man and its first sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, carried with them a mirthful, bratty-little-brother vibe, almost making meta-parody mincemeat of the more serious MCU films, but smiling and bringing you along with it while it did so. Now comes Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the first of the MCU’s Phase Five… and we can’t help but think, “Where’s the fun?”
Sure, Paul Rudd’s doing his usual Paul Rudd best to leverage humor amid the stakes at play here. While Rudd’s fish-out-of-water Scott Lang/Ant-Man bumbling about with no special powers (outside of that which come along with his suit) and barely any fighting skills is an obvious draw and creates a more relatable character, we can only lean on him so much to carry us and the film before wondering why the rest can’t hold a candle to him. Well, that’s not exactly true; Jonathan Majors blazes brightly with a worthy transition to the big-screen MCU as an alternate version of his character from Disney+’s “Loki,” Kang the Conqueror, an exile who needs to escape the Quantum Realm to continue his path of wanton destruction and ruin.
Yet these two alone still cannot keep Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania from falling into the MCU lockstep, as the screenplay by MCU newcomer Jeff Loveness throws out everything that made the previous Ant-Man films special. Gone are the so-dumb-they’re-hilarious trio of Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian, although he appears here in a different, voice-only role), the heist movie feel, and the sleight-of-hand trickery from Scott’s days as a thief. Instead, Loveness turns Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania into a George Lucas-fied Star Wars installment, with Majors’ Kang subbing in for Darth Vader and the Quantum Realm standing in for any one of Star Wars’ too-busy CGI backgrounds (post-1997).
Part of what made the previous films special was that the enlarging/miniaturization power was used inventively and wittily; one can’t help but smile when thinking about how a giant Pez dispenser figures into the climactic car chase in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Here, there’s no wit, there’s no fun; there’s only necessity, which undermines any attempt at humor and turns this power into a plot facilitator rather than a highlight. The same can be said for the entire movie, as it merely seeks spectacle, using everyone and everything as tools to make a pretty picture without making the effort to extend a hand to us and pull us into the picture. Truthfully, I was left with an empty feeling, something I haven’t experienced (or don’t remember experiencing) after any Marvel movie to date.
What we knew of the Quantum Realm is also tossed aside; dense populations of humanoid and alien creatures are found in honest-to-gosh cities with structures and skyscrapers, betraying the supposed solitude Janet Pym (Michelle Pfeiffer) endured while lost there for thirty years, especially after she encounters Kang for the first time. Of course, none of this is revealed outright; Loveness demands that Janet keep her secrets, even in the face of imminent danger threatening husband Hank (Michael Douglas), daughter Hope/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and Scott’s own daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton, the third actor to play the role). It’s an involving way to get Janet’s story out by the dripful, but when combined with the overwhelming nature of the Quantum Realm we experience here, it turns more into a frustrating tease without a payoff worthy of the trouble it takes to get there.
So begins a battle for the Quantum Realm, with Team Ant-Man trying to prevent Kang from going any further with his genocidal lunacy and to free the people under his boot. Thus, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania becomes just another Marvel film with the same Marvel action beats, with the trauma of familial separation – Kang from his people, Janet from her family, and Scott from his daughter (he was gone for almost the entirety of The Blip) – hoping to amp up the dramatic thrust alongside the visuals and big booms that have rattled cinema walls for fifteen years. Aside from establishing Kang the Conqueror as the next Big Bad, there’s no follow-through on the appeal of the first two films, and not even Paul Rudd can Paul Rudd his way out of falling into the MCU formula.
Sorry Eddie but your crazy! Ant man Quantamania is Marvel at its best! The viauals alone make it a spectacle to behold..So what its got a George Lucas feel…We love Star Wars…all the better..2 films for the price of one! This is the Quantum realm…maybe Stars Wars is actually taking place in the Quantum realm as well! 🤔 Tje screening we attended was in 3D..but boy oh boy I bet the 3D version is phenomenal! Thumbs up all the way. 4 stars to boot! Go have Coke and a smile Eddie!
Thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the movie. Let me know how it is in 3D!