Following an admittedly middling Phase 4, there was a lot riding on the shoulders of Ant-Man’s third movie. Not only did it need to live up to high expectations for sealing the trilogy deal (like Spiderman: No Way Home and Thor: Ragnarok before it), but it also needed to kick off Phase 5 and get audiences excited in a way they honestly haven’t been since Endgame.
And while Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania does feature cool new places, fun world-building, and does a decent job of introducing our new big villain (well introducing for those who didn’t watch Loki), it lacks a lot of the charm that the previous Ant-Man films had, and doesn’t really do anything to assuage the concerns a lot of fans have for a franchise whose better days are behind it.
Quantum Field Trip
The film opens some time after the events of Endgame. The entire Pym family is reunited with Scott and Hope in a committed enough relationship that Cassie (now played by Kathryn Newton) refers to Hope’s parents as “grandma” and “grandpa”.
While everyone else is seemingly busy innovating and engaging in philanthropy, Scott is enjoying retirement, and enjoys public readings of his recently published memoir. Back at the Pym house, Cassie shows off a sort of radar she invented, which can communicate with the quantum realm, and just as Janet is insisting they shut it down, they all get unwillingly pulled in and must now survive in the entire pocket universe none of them (save for Janet) knew existed.
In the process we learn that there was a great deal about Janet’s 30 years down there that she didn’t talk about, Cassie comes into her own as a superhero, and Scott learns what it’s like to be a hero once again, after initially feeling like there was nothing left for him to do or contribute to the world (or multiverse).
As far as visual and world-building go, this is where Quantumania really tries to shine. Admittedly, the “living green screen” technique they use is pretty cool, and the fact that the actors had the visually stunning backgrounds in front of them helped with their performances, and also made it look more like there was something physically there in front of them.
That being said, there was a lot of potential for world building and it feels like the movie doesn’t go nearly as far as it could with it. This is an entirely new universe, but at the end of the day, it’s just colorful backgrounds.
Much like how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness promised fascinating new universes beyond our recognition, it really only showed those off in one quick scene. Here, the pocket universe doesn’t really seem that different from anything we’ve seen in Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarok (more on that later).
The New Big Bad (Minor Spoilers)
After meeting the variant simply known as “He Who Remains”, Quantumania introduced us to another version of Kang the Conqueror. This one is stuck in this pocket dimension, and is hellbent on escaping with his army and destroying other universes. Jonathan Major is a great addition to the MCU and he plays unhinged very well. And because we’re dealing with such a variety of Kang variants, it means he can stick around in the MCU for years and get to play different versions of himself, which should help keep things fresh.
In fact the entire idea of fighting a villain with endless variants is a welcomed change from the last overarching villain and will hopefully set Phase 5 apart as it tries to recapture the magic that Marvel had during the Infinity Saga. That being said, this version of Kang borders on the cartoonish, and the variant we saw in Loki was a bit more interesting.
Losing the Charm
Kang and world building aside, the biggest issue with Quantumania is that it seems to forget why we loved Ant-Man to begin with. The first two films came right after major events like Age of Ultron and Infinity War, respectively.
And part of what made them so compelling and so much fun was that they were smaller scale heist movies, complete with a group of lovable side characters, most of whom either don’t appear in Quantamania at all, or if they do, it’s only for a brief cameo. The fact that Michael Peña’s Luis didn’t return to hilariously recount the story of Kang or tell us about the multiverse is unforgivable.
Ant-Man is meant to be the champion of the little guy, and a large part of that was the smaller scale that surrounded him and his exploits (when he wasn’t getting involved with the Avengers). So to pluck him from that world and spend 90% of his latest film in what is essentially deep space kind of takes away everything audiences found charming about him to begin with.
It’s all part of a large issue, which I refer to as the “Guardians of the Galaxy-ification” of Marvel films. Granted, Thor: The Dark World was no one’s favorite MCU film, but Ragnarok took away the Shakespearean tone that his first two films lived and breathed in.
Ever since, everything associated with Thor has been neon-colored and way too goofy, which works for something like Guardians of the Galaxy, but not for every character or property. And it’s frustrating to see Quantumania give Ant-Man the very same treatment.
After fans were left feeling underwhelmed with Phase 4, Marvel really needed Quantumania to be an absolute slam dunk, and sadly it’s not just. It’s by no means a bad movie. But its status as “just okay”, and its abandoning of everything we loved about Ant-Man only continues the apprehension many fans have had that Marvel’s reign of cinematic supremacy may be coming to an end.
What did you think of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania? What direction do you think it will lead the MCU into?? Let us know in the comments!
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