“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” opens joyously with Marvel’s fan-favorite superhero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), front and center. Strolling down the street, Lang makes his usual quippy remarks, cracks hilarious dad jokes, and flashes his signature smile. However, within minutes, it becomes clear that this is not the typical “Ant-Man” movie that Marvel fans have grown to know and love.
For a film starting off Phase Five of movie releases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is an unfortunate letdown. Other than having the familiar faces of Scott, Scott’s daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Hank (Michael Douglass), and Janet (Michelle Pfieffer), the light-hearted tone that originally made Ant-Man so unique has been buried under bad writing, a dull plot, and shotty visual effects.
When the movie was first teased in 2022, it was rumored that Marvel’s number one goofball would face off against the MCU’s new, post-Thanos big villain: Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). The crux of “Quantumania” is that Scott Lang has always been running out of time, and it is only right for him to go head-to-head with the man who controls it.
In the original “Ant-Man” (2015), hidden under all the humor is a deeply emotional thread: All Lang wants is to be with his daughter, but after repeatedly leaving to save the world he ultimately loses that which he desires so much. The second film in the trilogy follows that same theme. This third movie, however, while attempting to stay true to this thread, does not focus enough on Ant-Man. Any remnants of the original films are replaced with a new focal point: The future of the MCU.
The main objective of “Quantumania” is to introduce Kang the Conqueror, a multiversal supervillain with variants across every timeline. As this new big villain, Majors’s performance is phenomenal. Anytime he is on screen, he steals the show. With so many lines that feel reused and unoriginal, Majors is somehow able to deliver a stellar performance. He brings anger and regret into the MCU in a way Thanos (Josh Brolin) never could. But, Majors’s acting is not inescapable from bad writing. “Quantumania” provides a much needed backstory to the MCU’s new villain while also clearly forgetting that this is not Kang’s movie. Ant-Man becomes the side-character in his own film, and his daughter has more runtime than him.
Similar to most Marvel movies released in the past year, “Quantamania” attempts to pass the superhero mantle on to the next generation. In “Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022), Marvel fans were introduced to Thor’s “daughter.” In “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness” (2022), new character America Chavez learns to control her powers. In “Quantumania,” the same can be said about Cassie Lang, as she will soon take her father’s place as the small but incredibly mighty hero, Stature. Nonetheless, Marvel tries to hide this uninspired plot repetition under the promise of a terrifying villain and flashy visuals.
As the name suggests, most of “Quantumania” takes place in the quantum realm. Introduced in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (2018), the quantum realm is a trippy micro-universe. The visuals had the promise of being vibrant and having the potential to play with scale, but instead it looks more like a galaxy screensaver than an intricately designed, immersive universe. Upon the trailer’s release in October, fans likened the movie’s visual aesthetic to the low-budget “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.” As it turns out, they were not far off.
It is no secret that Marvel has a plan for the coming years (past 2025, apparently), and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is just one of many movies that will will help make this bigger picture a reality. However, that forward-facing objective does not make for a fantastic stand-alone plot. So, if you are going for good writing and a fun watch, this is not the Marvel film for you. But, if you are watching to simply avoid getting left behind by Marvel’s never-ending future build-up, this is a must-watch.
—Staff writer JJ Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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