- Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors
- Peyton Reed
- Not Yet Rated
- Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero, Comedy
- Release date
- February 17, 2023
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania begins approximately 2 years after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and it details the continuing adventures of the titular characters and their family.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania
It’s been 2 years since the Blip, and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has settled down to enjoy his life and his celebrity. He’s written a book, “Look Out for the Little Guy,” and seems to be content. Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly’s haircut, is now the CEO of Pym Industries, and she’s using Pym-tech to “make the world a better place.” Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) have reconnected, and Cassie has become an obnoxious teenage activist played by a block of wood that is also known as Kathryn Newton.
Via a trademarked Marvel McGuffin that is the “Hubble Telescope of the Quantum realm,” conveniently invented out of spare parts in a basement by a 17-year-old girl with no lineage or history of intellectual excellence, all of them end up in the Quantum Realm and are faced with Phase 5’s new foe…zzzzzzzzzzzzz…sorry I fell asleep thinking about him. Where was I? Oh, yeah…Phase 5’s new foe, Kang. Also, they want to leave the Quantum realm and get back home.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is as cumbersome as its title. Filled with far too many characters of far too little importance, it relies on the Quantum Realm’s otherworldliness to substitute as narrative and to provide every plot convenience needed to happenstance the cast to wherever the script needs them to be in order to introduce the next story beat.
**SPOILER** Even Bill Murray’s character serves no greater purpose than to be a comedic(?) cameo, which is a shame because, not only is Murray a national treasure, not only would it be worth the price of admission to see Rudd and he riff off of one another (they didn’t share any scenes), but his character’s history with Janet would have added some much needed emotional conflict into this otherwise soulless MARVEL entry.**END SPOILER**
In a series that was launched by a refreshing mix of humor and Paul Rudd’s effortless charm, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania manages to utterly suck the joy out of Rudd’s character, and he seems like he’s phoning it in throughout most of the film. Is it all due to Paul Rudd overload, or bad writing? Yes.
The novelty of Rudd’s lovable goofball has worn a little thin. However, his character is an Avenger who did help to save, not only the world but the friggin’ universe. Yet, regrettably, this film spends the entire first act belittling him, often for the pride that he feels for those very accomplishments, which only serves to undermine him to the audience. Also, Scott shows little to no growth (pun intended) from the first two installments of the series.
By this time in the character’s arc, it would make sense for him to be a little more sober and even hardened (certainly respected), perhaps punctuated by the odd ruddism judiciously metered out, thereby increasing their effectiveness with scarcity. After all, there is no resource known to man that increases in value the more it is given away.
Be that as it may, it doesn’t stop Scott from delivering one signature dry-yet-goofy witticism after the other throughout the film. Unfortunately, not one lands. In fact, there’s only a singular moment in the entire film that elicits a laugh and it is provided by Cassie.
Even while in pain, Rudd can’t help but charm the habaneros off of you.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’s supporting cast is in the movie, and that’s about it. Michael Douglas’s character is there sometimes but is mostly relegated to the role of chauffeur. Janet’s only purpose is to exposit and elicit exposition from others, and Evangeline Lilly’s haircut is there to steal Scott’s thunder and ex-machina him out of situations that were only written in order to give her something to do.
Of course, we can’t forget Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang. Remember how likable and cute she was in the first one (I’d ask what you remember about her from the second one, but no one remembers anything from the second one)? Well, that’s all gone. Now she’s a 17-year-old prodigy super-genius/political activist whose character exists to belittle Scott and to serve as plot-fodder. But don’t worry, she’s a girl boss too.
As unfortunate as the character is, even more so is the actress. Earlier in the review, I referred to Kathryn Newton as a block of wood, but that’s not really fair. She exhibits at least two and a half different shades of the same facial expression and can alternate from pretentious and obnoxious know-it-all teen to marginally pleasant whenever needed. Seriously, M3GAN showed more emotion.
Fortunately, Marvel Studios is known for its dynamic and original villains, so that’s sure to be this picture’s saving grace…HAHAHAHhahah. Sorry, couldn’t hold it in. With the exception of Thanos, I struggle to remember a single villain from their 30 previous MCU films. I mean, I can do it, but they’re definitely not top of mind.
So let’s talk Quantumania’s Kang, played by Johnathan Majors (Devotion). The character looks like the love child of Mysterio and Apocalypse and is an uber-generic villain with an intentionally vague motivation posing as intriguingly mysterious.
As far as I can tell, the Council of Ricks has cast him out of the Citadel for not being quite as evil as they are, and this Kang wants to wipe out much, most, or all of the multiverse because something worse than ending all of creation will happen if he doesn’t. Um…ok.
Major’s delivery is generally good. Unfortunately, the character never goes anywhere. He starts out melancholy and finishes melancholy. There’s absolutely no character growth, little personality, and not much of an arc. Kang comes across as a second-rate Thanos facsimile with a power suit.
The characters aren’t the only thing that suffers in this film. It’s bursting with clunky dialogue (the phrase “Quantum Realm” must be said 30 times in thirty minutes), unexplained McGuffins and contrivances like magic body fluid that, when drank, makes you understand foreign languages, villains with ill-defined and nebulous powers that do what the script needs to be done for that moment and then are forgotten about when the script wants something else to happen only for the powers to return when the script needs them back, and one character forcing another character to do something that is vital to their evil plan but arbitrarily not telling them really important information that would increase their likelihood of success by a magnitude just so that the movie can have one more action set piece. These are only a few but literally the entire movie is built on this level of clumsy writing.
Ultimately, the third installment suffers from a host of problems and does nothing to build any excitement for or give any confidence in Marvel Studios’ Phase 5. It completely eschews that which made the first Ant-Man work and the second one tolerable, which is Scott Lang’s everyman being thrust into incredible situations. Instead, it relies on huge set pieces and an expansive universe that utterly swallows the lead.
Finally, it gives us a vanilla villain with a motivation and plan that seem, at first blush, to be far too similar to that of the previous MCU saga.
The entire first act is a woke nightmare.
- The first five minutes of the film establish that Scott has written a silly autobiography and that his life consists of enjoying getting recognized while eating at restaurants, getting recognized while walking down the street, and getting recognized while buying coffee. Meanwhile, his always superior in all things girlfriend (yup they still aren’t married) Hope, has become the new CEO and savior of Pym Industries. Now she’s “saving the world every day” (presumably from leftist environmental talking points).
- Next, we find out that the police are bad because they cleared out a homeless encampment, which is total BS. The real San Fransisco lets people take dumps on the sidewalk while cooking Fentanyl in spoons stolen from Walgreens. The fictional one isn’t clearing out a bunch of Blip refugees from a park. This only exists in the movie to further the woke narrative of liberal city homeless policies and to make sure that the audience knows that police are bad.
- Scott is dismissed as being anachronistically patriarchal by both his daughter and his girlfriend because he dared to suggest to his 17-year-old child, whom he just bailed out of jail for assaulting the police, that perhaps there is a better way to help Blip refugees than recklessly attacking law enforcement with incredibly powerful Pym tech.
- Later, Scott finds out that Cassie has been arrested more than once, and neither the Pyms nor his girlfriend told him about it. He manages to keep his cool but is understandably upset. Once again, his feelings and his attempt to be a good dad are undermined and he’s treated like some fossil who should know better than to tell a strong independent woman what to do…even if she isn’t old enough to buy cigarettes…and is his DAUGHTER.
- Next, Scott is mocked by Janet, Cassie, Hope, and Hank for daring to bring up that he helped to save the world (even though it was actually the entire universe). He’s not arbitrarily bringing it up, he’s trying to use it as an example of him knowing what it means to put yourself in harm’s way in the pursuit of a good and just cause. But, he wrote a book about his experience so that makes him a joke to them. Again, he is trying to parent HIS child and the three Pyms who are NOT RELATED continue to belittle him to his face and in front of her, ostensibly because he is just a silly man while Cassie uses she/her pronouns.
- It also is revealed that the Pyms have undermined Scott by building Cassie her own shrinking suit without his permission and against his wishes, and once again he’s treated like he’s an idiot for second-guessing his underaged girl-boss daughter.
- Oh, and mindless drone ants are treated as though they invented Shangri-La because they are socialists, which they aren’t. Ants live under a tyrannical monarchy, living, and dying only to serve the queen.
The first act is about 12 minutes long, and it’s 12 minutes of these foolish woke sensibilities. However, the rest of the movie is fairly woke-free, and even paints Scott as a heroic and selfless dad who would sacrifice himself for his child without a second thought.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.