“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” was directed by Peyton Reed and written by Jeff Loveness. The film follows Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his restored “ant-family” on an adventure through the Quantum Realm, where they encounter a dangerous foe in Jonathan Majors’ Kang. From the deepest, deadliest, and foulest pits of hell came Phase 4 of the MCU, and now that Quantumania begins Phase 5, one could only hope this poisoned franchise will be resuscitated.
Quantum. The word that has plagued cinema for nearly a decade. It has become the ultimate excuse for any ridiculous sci-fi concept, inspiring Hollywood to get lazier and lazier. It’s factory filmmaking at its finest. Hearing it said on the big screen shatters my ear drums and eviscerates my brain cells. So naturally, Marvel made the right choice in titling Ant-Man’s third flick Quantumania.
The script for Quantumania is just as irritating as the title. Character motivations rarely ever make sense, stakes and power-scaling are all over the place, the story is a cluttered mess, and any soul that may have once been there was obliterated in the editing room. Since these criticisms can be thrown at almost every MCU project since “Avengers: Infinity War,” it’s blatantly obvious that nothing is changing at Marvel.
What makes all this worse is that I was actually suckered into thinking Quantumania could be different from Phase 4’s sludge. The trailers seemed dramatic and prepared the audience for high stakes and a menacing villain. I was too cynical to believe there would be any significant deaths, but I at least expected some legitimate set-up for the new dangers coming to the MCU. Turns out we got none of that.
I could talk about the many plot holes and how every twenty seconds I would say, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute,” but if I were to break down the whole narrative this review would never end. Therefore, I’m going to focus on the three major issues of the film: 1) the protagonists, 2) Janet’s secrets, and 3) the tone/stakes.
Firstly, the characters are really weird in how they’re developed. Hope/the Wasp is oddly insignificant to the film, as is Hank Pym. Of the five core protagonists, only Janet, Scott, and Cassie Lang have any importance. Nothing would change with the absence of Hope and Hank. In fact, the film might have been better off without Hank, as Michael Douglas’ performance was so checked out that he could’ve delivered his dialogue through Zoom. I swear he must have had his lines read to him.
As for Scott, he at least was important to the story, but he had zero arc, growth, or character development at all. Nothing about this experience affected him, so there’s no real weight to his presence. Then there’s Cassie Lang, who’s by far the weakest character of the film. She was written to be perfect at everything and incredibly smug about how overpowered she is. Her obscene lack of flaws or challenges makes her extremely aggravating. It’s human nature to fail and make mistakes. Protagonists need to reflect that inherent human quality. Otherwise, they aren’t relatable and are instead annoying and condescending.
Secondly, the biggest plot hole with the film is Janet’s refusal to tell anyone about Kang’s presence in the Quantum Realm. She knew about this massive danger for thirty years, as well as the existence of a multiverse, and told NO one. Why? I understand she’s scarred from her experiences, but that’s no excuse for putting all of life at risk from the greatest threat. This destroys any credibility the film may have started out with and makes Janet unlikable, despite Michelle Pfeiffer giving it her all in the role.
Lastly, the way Marvel handled the tone was disastrous. This was the film introducing the Big Bad and possibly concluding the Ant-Man trilogy, so it could take risks. It should’ve had huge stakes, not on a ridiculous multiversal level, but on a character level. Quantumania should have killed off characters to emphasize Kang’s threat, but of course it didn’t. Instead, it’s yet another joke-filled, action-packed, lightning-fast narrative more concerned with “entertaining” the audience than actually entertaining the audience. We want to feel the danger, and if that means we can’t have a laughably bad MODOK, then so be it. Marvel can’t keep relying on CGI and lame one-liners. There’s no credibility anymore.
This leads into the most disappointing aspect of the film: Kang the Conqueror. Jonathan Majors is one of the greatest rising stars working today, and he’s excellent as Kang. He has that rare magnifying screen presence that hurls the audience toward him. The subtle ways he contorts his jaw, snarls, and stares people down can be truly haunting and make for an incredible villain performance. Whenever Kang enters the room in Quantumania, everything around him turns pitch black and silent. However, an actor can only do so much when handed a bad screenplay.
Majors deserved far better material than what he was given. He clearly was trying as hard as humanly possible to make it work, and I think he largely did… when Kang was actually on screen. The issue is that when Majors isn’t speaking, you start to think about what his character is actually like in context. How he’s actually getting beaten by some shrinky people and giant ants, despite previously having defeated Avengers across infinite universes, killed trillions of people, and erased entire timelines. The power-scaling is so nonsensical. At the end of the film, I asked myself why should I have ever been scared of this guy? Why should I fear him escaping when, in comparison to what we’ve seen of his abilities, he could easily be defeated by Doctor Strange, Scarlett Witch, Thor, and others?
Marvel has now introduced two different versions of Kang, both of which I actually liked. Yet they decided to kill off both (or at least one; it’s unclear whether this Kang survives at the end) in each project. Again, why should I be intimidated by this guy? Sure, there’s many different versions of him, but so what? We’ve seen two Kangs defeated already without an insurmountable amount of difficulty. Also, I hate the idea of Kang essentially being disposable due to there being an entire Council of Kangs. I’d rather just have one all-powerful Kang.
It’s pathetic that “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is actually the second-best MCU film of Phases 4 and 5 so far. It’s incredibly incoherent like the majority of them, but it at least has a killer performance by Jonathan Majors, semi-decent pacing, an appropriate runtime, and some neat action sequences. There was actually potential for this film, unlike “Eternals” or all the other filth. I just wish Kevin Feige didn’t shrink the stakes so much.