Movie Review: ‘Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania’

Director: Pyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton, David Dastmalchian, Katy O’Brian, William Jackson Harper, Bill Murray, Michelle Pfiffer, Corey Stoll, Michael Douglas

Plot: Scott, Hope, Hank and Janet, along with an older delinquent activist Cassie, get trapped in the surprisingly populated Quantum Realm and have to face down a powerful tyrant known as ‘The Conquerer’.

Review: It seems that movie critics are pretty split on Quantumania, which a slight majority being down on it. As it is, any Marvel property that is universally beloved is quickly branded a failure and it’s difficult to fathom why. Whilst is doesn’t move the character development forward much, but it gives our lead strong motivation and the story is well paced with some new ideas.

Things are going well for Scott Lang (Rudd). His role in the Avengers and their battle against Thanos has made him a recognised hero with plenty of perks and even a published memoir. He’s still dating Hope (Lilly), with her parents Hank and Janet (Douglas and Pfiffer) becoming a surrogate family for Scott and his daughter Cassie (Newton). Their new attention begins when a signal Cassie and Hank have been bouncing back and forth to the Quantum Realm results in the five of them being pulled into the secret universe existing on a Quantum level. They quickly learn that this alien world is populated by all manner of strange beings, and a being known as Kang the Conquerer (Majors) rules with violence.

The main arc for Scott is reforming a bond with Cassie. Now 18 she has rebelled against her father and run afoul of the law fighting the police alongside activists. Cassie has secretly been given her own super-hero suit from Hank and has been conducting experiments in secret. Unfortunately, this means Janet does have to chance to warn them of Kang, whom she trapped in the Quantum Realm before her rescue. Kang himself is a powerful figure, with a suit and technology that makes him almost impossible to fight directly. He has been involved in the destruction of multiple alternate timelines, and was exiled to the Quantum Realm by variant versions of himself where Janet rendered his energy source inaccessible.

Jonathon Major dominates the screen as Kang. Being the next Big Bad following Thanos, and initially appearing much less imposing than the popular villain, they’re work hard to sell this guy as a genuine threat. He’s cruel, he hurts and kills with little emotion and he’s nearly untouchable. Equipped with energy blasts and technology-created telekineses, he is a force to be reckoned with. The big sell is that Kang is not a single man, but one of a potential infinite number of Kangs with each taking the place of the one you’ve just defeated. In addition to his first appearance in Loki, this bodes well for future encounters and suggests that Majors is going to have his work cut out for him. Working as a henchman to Kang is the returning Darren Cross (Stoll), having been rebuilt into M.O.D.O.K. (Mechanical Organism Designed Only for Killing). This is a character that should only work on a comic page, not live action, but they’ve leaned into this issue by sticking very closely to the visual design and making M.O.D.O.K. into a complete freak with a weird bulbous head and stretched out face, dangling little legs and an angry impotence at his lot in life. It’s clear that we’re not going to take this floating, angry giant freak face seriously so they make him a weird, ridiculous, wormy sidekick.

The other new player is Cassie. Although we’ve seen this character as both a small child with a very loving father/daughter relationship and as an older teen reunited with her father years after he was assumed dead. The difference in actors is quite jarring as they have nothing in common appearance-wise, but Newton is such a great actor with solid comedic timing that we can see why they made this decision before the character steps more into the spotlight and potentially taking on the role of superhero Stature. No shade on Emma Fuhrmann, who played the role in Endgame, as she didn’t get the opportunity to do anything with the character and we don’t know why the role was recast, but we’re a fan of Newton and hope to see more of her as part of the next generation of heroes alongside Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and the like.

One of the biggest complaints we have had with the past couple of Marvel movies is that they don’t feel as though they’re building up to anything bigger. The first phase of the MCU largely stood as stand-alone stories that then crossed over into a bigger epic. Once we knew that there was enough momentum to build up to the battle against Thanos, it felt like each film brought us a bit closer to that finale. For a year or two, things have felt disconnected from each other and spinning its wheels. Quantumania gives us a visually striking new world, with a completely unique looking realm made up of living buildings and so many weird creatures we wouldn’t know where to begin explaining them. With this new setting and a new major threat we feel like the accelerator is getting a bit more pressure applied to it.

Sadly, we have lost a couple of really fun characters from the previous couple of Ant-Man and the Wasp movies. Agent Woo (Randall Park) gets a quick cameo, but Luis (Michael Peña) is completely absent and we don’t get told what’s happening with him. Given that the movie opens with Scott narrator to bring us up to speed, that’s a lost opportunity to give Luis a quick cameo bringing us up to speed. Luis’ co-worker Kurt is also gone, but surprisingly David Dastmalchian provides to voice of an amusing blob creature who would like to know about your holes. Although she gets mentioned a few times, Judy Greer is also absent as Cassie’s mother and Scott’s ex. On the other hand, we never enjoy seeing fan favourite comedy characters being crowbarred into sequels for no reason (the Pirates franchise being especially guilty of this). After their increased role in the last film we were kinda expecting them.

We haven’t made much mention of Hope aka The Wasp in this review, and there’s a good reason for that. He role in the movie is so slight that we wouldn’t be surprised if they forgot this was an Ant-Man and the WASP movie until a week before filming began. This character has been given the short straw previously, being benched for Civil War, Infinity War and Endgame (until she became part of the crowded final battle), and they seemed at a complete loss with what to do with her here. She has zero character development or motivation throughout the film. She jumps into some fight scenes, but there’s nothing she does that couldn’t have been done by somebody else in the scene. Hank and Janet don’t exactly get a character study, but there’s some reveals about Janet’s time stranded in the Quantum Realm that produced some conflict. Hope’s role in the story is cut down more severely than her hair, and as she’s a title character this is really glaring.

Although I am technically a critic, I’m happy with this film and will be watching it again. We’re all fans of the MCU in this house, and this is a fun new addition with an interesting setting and great comedic performances. Just…don’t forget about the existing characters while setting up the new ones.

Rating: EIGHT out of TEN