Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Long billed as a critical cog in Marvel’s Grand Plan for the future following the culmination of their decade long Infinity Saga, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (still quite mad about the missed QuANTuMANia marketing opportunity ) is emblematic of the issues that have been plaguing the MCU since the end of Phase 3.
The first two Ant-Man movies were breezy, easy palate cleansers that covered very street-level MCU stories. At the time, these movies were bearable because the overarching project had tentpole stories golding up the MCU to allow these smaller stories to flourish. With those tentpoles gone (or drunk, as Thor:Love and Thunder clearly was), the onus has fallen to the smallest (heh) character in the entire franchise to set the course for the future of the entire franchise. Sense a problem?
The film follows the Ant-fam and their adventures as they get pulled into the quantum realm via a rather convenient plot contrivance. They arrive in the quantum realm and Michelle Pffeifer’s character, the one person who could explain what is going on, decides not to for some reason. Why? Who knows. The quantum realm itself does look rather bland and uninspired (The Volume, brilliant for The Mandalorian, is 0 for 2 in the MCU).
The performances are a very mixed bag, with Paul Rudd and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror being the standouts. Paul Rudd’s infectious, everyman energy is as always, perfect for the role. He handles the more emotional beats as well, but his chemistry with Evangeline Lily’s Wasp is nearly nonexistent. Newcomer Kathryn Newton as Cassie was definitely the character that worked the least for me. Her lack of comfort in a fully CG environment in a few scenes was rather obvious. The rest of the wider supporting cast were genuinely poor, with special negative acclaim going to Bill Murray’s boring attempt at the Jeff Goldblum Grandmaster character from Thor: Ragnarok.
The one saving grace of this movie is the performance of Jonathan Majors as Kang. It’s easy to see why he was chosen for the role. His character emits an intensity that speaks volumes to the (supposed, we barely s) history behind the character. However, like the rest of the cast he’s given a paper thin script to work with. Majors is definitely capable of being the big bad of the MCU going forward, but having said big bad get beaten by Ant-Man,of all people immediately removes whatever mystique he had. Imagine Thanos’ first appearance being getting whooped by Spider-Man and you start to see the problem here. The movie has all the issues that have plagued recent Marvel releases and at this point the formula that has brought about these films needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a film carrying too much weight. The breezy, smaller scale stories that made this sub-franchise a joy to watch have been swapped out for generic, long drawn out battles with no emotional stakes. The big start to Phase 5 has come and gone. Guardians 3 has a big job to do.