Why I liked Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantumania
Hey, folks. So yeah, I’m clearing ambiguity right off the bat. I enjoyed this flick. It had many things I wanted in an MCU movie, both as a film fan and a longtime Marvel comics reader. I didn’t know all of the histories of the characters before watching it, mind you, but I knew enough to enjoy it and have the desire to research some characters afterward.
Recently, the MCU had been through a combination of films and shows called, as executive Kevin Feige has put it, Phase 4. Many of those works explored newer characters and planted a few crumbs for upcoming works. This new movie comes after a lot of stuff had already taken place. The prior two films featuring Ant-Man specifically, as well as the team-ups he’s been part of, all lead to this one. We see our hero Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) enjoying a life of goodwill after going through comedic adventures with friends and spearheading the Avengers’ efforts to save the universe. One side effect however has been a bit of strain in relating to his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), who is living up to his legacy in all the wrong ways.
Cassie though has also apparently been playing around (via help from Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas)) with ways to explore the Quantum Realm where her father was trapped and where Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) had been for 30 years. Janet freaks out upon learning this and smashes the device. However, the device isn’t through with them though and pulls the combined Pym / Lang families into something totally unexpected: a strange sub-universe with thriving communities. Scott and Cassie are split off from Hank, Hope (Evangeline Lily), and a visibly agitated Janet who insists there is something dangerous there and they need to escape ASAP.
The danger comes in the form of Kang (Jonathan Majors), someone Janet is very, very afraid of yet refuses to talk about for much of the film. Thanks to both director Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness we get Majors versatile talents to create something the MCU movies/shows have often lacked: a truly menacing villain. Kang here ranks right up with Thanos, Kingpin, Killmonger, and Gor as far as effective foes to be afraid of. At one moment he’s vulnerable, and vicious the next like conquerors and abusers tend to be to get what they want. Majors shows each of these elements effortlessly as we begin to learn what this version of Kang is like and see just how brutal he can be toward Scott. He is truly a high point of the film.
Another high point is the chance to see Janet utilized more fully. I’m a long-time Marvel fan and have often been bummed to see that the character who named the Avengers in the comics has been given so little screen time in the MCU films. Heck, I liked seeing her as their leader at one point. So it was refreshing to see her get to do some cool things here even if not entirely how my fanboy side would’ve liked. Also. Pfeiffer does good to show this film is very much Janet’s story as much as it is Ant-Man’s.
Speaking of our hero, yes, Paul Rudd is still very good as Scott has to juggle finding his family and protecting Cassie. Being a hero and a father are difficult jobs to balance and that conflict is shown very well here. Cassie can’t be entirely stopped so he has to guide her through the craziness of the Realm and see that she flourishes. Scott really is pushed to extremes he hadn’t been in previous films so this is great to watch and Rudd makes you want to root for him in that regard.
As to the rest of the elements, Reed’s liking for comedy is decent here but could’ve been shaved a bit for this. It’s overall successful, but for a story where the stakes are definitely greater, less would have been more in this case. The unfortunate effect to probably many of you reading this is that Scott’s ex-con crew isn’t present in Quantumania. Also, one other unfortunate thing is the CG. It’s mostly ok and gives a Star Wars-type vibe, but one effect is not entirely successful. I normally don’t quibble about such things but this effect was so in your face that it just had to be noted. When you see the character this pertains to, you’ll likely figure it out. Loveness’s script is also pretty decent and shows he’s been reading up on Marvel lore if he hadn’t been before. There are some characters I’ll have to learn about after watching this myself. We get some good world-building that leads to fun speculation and anticipation man Marvel fans want.
So yeah, I honestly don’t get the hateorade vibe many critics have been giving this movie. Comic book movie fatigue? Ok, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the movie we get here. Quantumania takes an established hero and amps up the problems for him to the point he may or may not be able to solve them entirely. Marvel said this was the beginning of big things to come in Phases 5 and 6. Between the action, potential, post-credit scenes (plural very rewarding for comic fans), and the Hank Pym pimp-walk, I found the latest Ant-Man / Wasp film to be fun and very enjoyable. The prior two films were solid B-level entertainment. I think this one’s a little better. Onward to The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars.