In the decade since its inception, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered a number of recurring elements throughout its films. One of those elements? The third film in a hero’s trilogy will usually put them through the wringer. Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man…everyone gets a turn. And now with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it’s Ant-Man’s time to run the gauntlet. Quantumania picks up in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has become a worldwide celebrity. But he feels estranged from his now-teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton).
That’s the least of Scott’s worries. When one of Cassie’s experiments goes haywire, it pulls him – alongside Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfieffer) – into the Quantum Realm. And soon, Scott runs afoul of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), a time-traveling warlord who has spent centuries trapped in the Realm. As Kang attempts to utilize Scott’s help in escaping from subatomic purgatory, Janet starts to reveal more about her own time trapped there and how Kang could threaten all of reality.
The Ant-Man films have always been an outlier within the wider MCU. They’ve often been referred to as “palette cleansers” – a break in-between the bigger event films and more popular heroes. Director Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness aim to change that, as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania features the sort of scale that you’d expect in an Avengers or Star Wars movie. The sequence where Scott and his friends fall through the Quantum Realm is extremely trippy, with a kaleidoscope of colors and prisms flying at the viewer as things get smaller. Another sequence has Ant-Man multiplying endlessly – and when one of these duplicates attempts to grow to giant size, he literally falls apart, peeling into ribbons. And Kang’s citadel feels like it was ripped right out of a classic sci-fi novel: massive floating rings surround the tower, and fleets of sleek silver ships take to the sky. Those visuals extend to the denizens of the Quantum Realm, including living buildings that can fly and shoot lasers along with giant killer amoebas and men with broccoli for heads!
But as always, it’s the heroes that drive the story and the main thrust of the story is the relationship between Scott and Cassie. Scott was trapped in the Quantum Realm for five years prior to Endgame – that’s five years of his daughter’s life he’s missed. It gives Rudd a new angle to play with, as he gives Scott an underlying sadness in his talks with Cassie. One moment has him repeatedly saying that everything is OK – despite the fact that they’re trapped in another universe with no way out. And you can clearly hear the panic in Rudd’s voice. Newton matches him scene for scene, playing Cassie as a teenager who wants to change the world but gets in over her head. The father/daughter relationship between Scott and Cassie has been the major throughline of the Ant-Man films, so it only makes sense that Quantumania would put it at center stage.
The standout of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is Majors, who continues to smash every role he’s in. And he lends Kang a quiet, yet chilling menace that instantly cements him as a top-tier MCU villain. Nowhere is this made more clear than in his first scene with Rudd; when Scott brags that he’s an Avenger, Kang simply replies “Have I killed you before?” He then threatens to kill Cassie and make Scott relive it for all eternity, his voice never raising an octave. And Majors makes for an impressive physical presence, as he towers over nearly everyone and delivers one of the film’s most brutal fight scenes.
If there’s one issue with the film, it’s that the Pym/Van Dyne storyline doesn’t quite gel with the Scott/Cassie one. Don’t get me wrong, Douglas and Pfieffer are excellent – especially Pfieffer. Viewers will finally get to see what happened to her all those years ago, and she nails the demeanor of someone who’s been suffering through trauma. She feels distant and closed off, and freaks out whenever Kang is brought up. But the editing of these two storylines feels super choppy, particularly in the first act. And Lilly feels extremely outclassed, especially when sharing a scene with Bill Murray. Compared to Rudd and Newton’s interactions with the other Quantum Realm inhabitants – including William Jackson Harper as a surly telepath – it’s lacking.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania brings the pint-sized hero’s trilogy to a close, supersizing the action without skimping on the emotion. I definitely recommend checking it out, especially in IMAX as the visuals feel like a perfect fit for that format. It’s like the saying goes: the third time’s the charm.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania premieres in theaters nationwide on February 17, 2023.
Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania
- Rating - 8/108/10
Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania brings the pint-sized hero’s trilogy to a close, supersizing the action without skimping on the emotion. I definitely recommend checking it out, especially in IMAX as the visuals feel like a perfect fit for that format. It’s like the saying goes: the third time’s the charm.
Born and raised in Texas, Collier “CJ” Jennings was introduced to geekdom at an early age by his father, who showed him Ultraman and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On his thirteenth birthday, he received a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 and dove head first into the realm of pop culture, never looking back. His hobbies include: writing screenplays and essays, watching movies and television, card games/RPG’s, and cooking. He currently resides in Seattle.