Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now in theaters.
By Zachary Greenberg
Over the past two years, Marvel’s Phase 4 has produced more than 50 hours of content, surpassing the amount from Phases 1-3 COMBINED. The Phase 4 lineup includes several highly successful movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and popular TV shows such as Moon Knight, What If?…, and WandaVision. However, despite the many high points, many viewers have expressed a growing sense of fatigue and redundancy creeping into the MCU.
Phase 5 recently kicked off with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. (Before delving into the movie, I must note that the Wasp was barely featured, so I’m confused why her name is in the title. If it was called Ant-Man and Cassie who is featured much more prominently in the film, I would have understood.) Similar to Phase 4, the main issue with Quantumania is that it feels like a distinct and separate universe from what we’re used to. All the films in Phases 1-3, even those set off-world, felt connected and were part of an overarching story revolving around the Infinity Stones. In contrast, Phase 4 felt disjointed, introducing Egyptian gods, time travel to early 20th century Pakistan, and travels through the multiverse. I don’t even know how to begin to describe what The Eternals was. Did no Avengers notice a giant Celestial coming out of the ocean and think, “maybe we should deal with that?”
In Quantumania, the plot starts off lighthearted and fun, just as any Ant-Man film should. Scott narrates his story, strolling down the street and reflecting on his life after the events of Endgame. He’s written a hilarious autobiography, and his life finally seems relatively normal for a superhero. He’s able to spend time with his daughter Cassie and girlfriend Hope without any major disruptions. However, this all changes when Cassie finds a way to send a signal to the Quantum realm. Personally, I disliked this plotline. We’ve never seen Cassie exhibit any computer skills in any previous Marvel films. She was always portrayed as a courageous and kind-hearted daughter, and there was no indication that she was a genius. Even Scott, a talented thief, doesn’t have a natural aptitude for science – it was his predecessor Hank Pym who developed the Ant-Man technology. It’s difficult to believe that Cassie suddenly became a genius out of nowhere.
Anyways, Scott, Casey, Hope, Hank, and Hank’s wife Janet all get sucked into the Quantum realm when the communications machine goes haywire. In the Quantum realm, Cassie and Scott get separated from Hope, Hank, and Janet, and each group has its own mini-adventure, with the story cutting back and forth between them.
Janet, who has been stuck in the Quantum realm for 30 years, realizes that they are in grave danger because there is a man down there who seems to be bent on destroying the multiverse: her old pal Kang the Conqueror. However, for some reason, Janet decides to keep telling Hope and Hank that there’s no time to explain what they’re up against and that they need to trust her and follow her lead. This plot device is frustrating because it would be so easy for Janet to sit them both down for a couple of minutes, explain the situation, and plan a good strategy together. It makes no sense why Janet expects them to follow her for no reason, especially when she has kept secret that there is a whole world down in the Quantum realm for absolutely no reason. A more serious plotline, such as Janet struggling with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, would have made more sense. It would have been understandable if any normal person were traumatized by being stuck for 30 years in the Quantum realm, separated from their family, loved ones, and the planet they knew. This would have explained why Janet didn’t want to rehash the past and allowed for great character development as she comes to terms with her experiences and learns to face them head-on to survive being stuck in the Quantum realm once again.
If you couldn’t tell from my tone, I wasn’t such a fan of the first 40 minutes of the film. Despite my initial reservations, the movie really picked up the intensity and fun from this point on. Scott was fantastic again as Ant-Man, providing some emotional scenes whenever he was trying to rescue Cassey. I especially loved the scene in the probability loop where he had to get all possible versions of himself to work together. He always had hilarious one-liners to make me laugh, but the film also maintained its seriousness when necessary, allowing the audience to feel the intensity.
Marvel’s visual design in the film was top-notch as always. The various cantina bars, alien-like creatures, and the oppressive army trying to maintain order reminded me of Star Wars. Among the side characters, M.O.D.O.K., a returning villain from a previous film, stood out to me with his absurd physique and lines and easily became my favorite character in the film. I won’t spoil anything else, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy M.O.D.O.K.’s antics as much as I did.
The standout performance of the film, in my opinion, was delivered by Jonathan Majors, who played the villain Kang the Conqueror. He portrayed Kang’s complexity flawlessly, portraying a character who is willing to kill trillions of people to prevent the destruction of universes caused by mass incursions. Majors skillfully depicted Kang as a fierce and ruthless character who has killed variations of the Avengers across the multiverse, which made Scott’s (a relatively weak superhero compared to the likes of Captain Marvel and Thor) encounter with him even more daunting. In spite of his villainous actions, Kang’s perspective on the timeline of life added depth to his character, making him more than just a one-dimensional bad guy. His ample screen time allowed him to showcase his powers and provided a riveting viewing experience.
Similar to the finale of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the ending is a bit over the top when miraculously hundreds of rebel ships come out of nowhere to fight Kang’s army. I also didn’t get why Kang had a prison cell for captured rebels and did not just kill them. He clearly has no problem killing people, and it’s not like he needed the prisoners as bargaining chips as he was so above any other being in the Quantum realm. Besides that, the final battles were thrilling and action-packed, providing a satisfying end to the film.
Overall, I really liked Quantumania. The performances, special effects, humor, and action scenes all hit the mark for me. While the plot could have used some cleaning up and I was frustrated by Hope’s lack of character participation and Janet’s nonsensical motivations, for me, the good far outweighed the bad. Majors really stole the show in this film and I am excited to see his character further developed leading up to Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is my favorite of the three Ant-Man films due to its superb hero versus villain-dynamic and exciting storyline. I highly recommend grabbing some Oreo popcorn at AMC theaters as I did and enjoying the latest installment in the Marvel Universe.
I give Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania a B+.