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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)—Marvel Meets Star Wars

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie poster

The Ant-Man films have never really impressed me. Although the first film was a solid heist film with effective humor sprinkled in, the second film was a fun, but rather forgettable sequel. So what does Marvel Studios do? Make the entire Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe depend on the third Ant-Man film! Does it pay off?

After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) is a hero in the eyes of San Francisco and even wrote a book detailing his life story. He lives with Hope (played by Evangeline Lilly) and the two do their best to live a relatively normal life. His daughter, Cassie Lang (played by Kathryn Newton) is released from prison after shrinking a police cruiser with a Pym Particle and reveals to Scott, Hope and Janet (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) that she’s been working on a device that could send a signal to the Quantum Realm. The device goes haywire and everyone is sucked into the Quantum Realm, where they must find a way back before the all-powerful Kang the Conqueror (played by Jonathan Majors) and his assassin M.O.D.O.K. (played by Corey Stoll) finds them.

Ant-Man, Cassie Lang and The Wasp in Quantumania

Unlike the previous two Ant-Man films that were kept within their own little bubble, Quantumania expands Ant-Man to a grand scale and is the catalyst to The Kang Dynasty and further MCU projects. Although it may be odd that it is an Ant-Man film that gets to kick start the rest of the MCU, it surprisingly makes sense as the concept of the Quantum Realm was explored in previous entries. Not to mention that although the Quantum Realm was briefly touched on in the past, it was never on full display to the level it was shown in Quantumania. Here, we get to see the many layers and inhabitants of the Quantum Realm. And it’s as insane as you’d expect. The best way I can describe the Quantum Realm and its various inhabitants without giving away too much is if you mix Star Wars and Dune with Marvel. I have to say, when I saw the trailers for Quantumania, I was disappointed to see that the climax of the film was given away. However, upon watching it, I can easily say that the trailer hides more than it shows. There is so much world building and creativity that the trailers do not show. In other words, this is how trailers should be.

But besides the absolutely bombastic set pieces, the film would be nothing without its acting. While Paul Rudd is as lovable as ever, he has a much more serious edge to him. This is no surprise as Quantumania is a much darker film compared to its predecessors. Newcomer Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang does the best she can with what’s given to her, although I did find that she kept making the same bland face several times. However, she does have a few good scenes where you see that she can hold her own alongside veteran actors Rudd, Douglas and Pfeiffer. Speaking of which, I think the best performances have to go to Michelle Pfeiffer and Jonathan Majors, with Michael Douglas coming in at a close second.

Ant-Man and Kang the Conqueror in Quantumania

Pfeiffer does an excellent job at conveying Janet’s fear and paranoia of what is lurking just below our surface and shares amazing chemistry with Majors, who deftly and effortlessly delivers a subtle and nuanced version of evil through Kang, even if it felt like he pulled his punches a bit. While this isn’t his first time playing Kang, as he had a brief appearance in Loki in the form of He Who Remains, this is the first time we get to see Kang the Conqueror on screen. Jonathan Majors is an extremely underrated actor, having previously starred in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. With both Quantumania and the upcoming Creed III, Majors is finally getting the recognition he deserves!

A couple gripes I have with Quantumania are the jokes and the stakes. There were several instances where the jokes felt forced, didn’t land, or both. Most of the time the jokes fell flat whenever there was an interaction with M.O.D.O.K. It’s alright to have jokes that cut the tension, but too many feels more like a hassle to giggle. Secondly, the stakes surrounding the film never felt earned if I am being honest. Both the trailers and promotional material teased enormous stakes and long standing consequences for both the character of Ant-Man and the MCU. But it felt like they never followed through on those stakes or consequences. The trailers had Lang say “we both just have to lose” thinking he was either gonna die or get stuck in the Quantum Realm a second time. But nope, they had to go with a stereotypical hero ending. Even if the post credit scenes teased the multiverse far more intimately than any film leading up to Quantumania did.

M.O.D.O.K. in Quantumania

Quantumania is a solid start to Phase 5 of the MCU, the world building around the Quantum Realm is exquisite and truly reminiscent of Star Wars. The performances are all great, in particular Michelle Pfeiffer and of course Jonathan Majors as Kang the freaking Conqueror. While most of the jokes felt forced or fell flat, I still managed to laugh a few times. And I did feel shortchanged by the creative team not following through on the high stakes they built. I know the reviews for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have been divisive to say the least, but it is entertaining and a solid first step for Marvel’s Phase 5. It does have its flaws, but it is not enough to dissuade me from continuing to watch the MCU as they build up to a far bigger threat than Thanos in the Infinity Saga.

Co-Written By: Noah Kloss

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