OK, can we just pause and appreciate the fact that no matter what we think of this particular movie, that we live in a world where we can watch a film called Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Like, honestly, that’s just crazy. If you are a comic book fan, it’s something to be excited about, not because Ant-Man or the Wasp are the best characters ever, but because it means that really maybe any comic character you like could eventually become a movie. Maybe someday I’ll see a live-action feature film called Mister Miracle or The Sword of the Atom or The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga.
But what about Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania itself? Well, it’s a hot mess of silliness. The plot involves the revelation that Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) intentionally withheld the news that when she was rescued from the Quantum Realm in the previous movie, she left behind a massively developed and multi-cultural civilization that was under the thumb of an evil despot. This doesn’t quite jibe with what we saw of the Quantum Realm in earlier movie, but ones suspension of disbelief is already having to work hard in this movie, so that is really a pretty minor problem.
Janet’s reticence to share about her experiences leads her family to all getting sucked against their will into the Quantum Realm, where Kang (the despot) wants their help to recover a piece of technology he needs to escape. The plot is straightforward enough, but the world where all this is happening is like a fever dream of wacky ideas, with a combination of extremely human looking characters (one is played by Bill Murray!) and all sorts of aliens that look like someone put an A.I. image generator on drugs and told it to recreate the cantina scene from the first Star Wars.
That’s not to say it’s bad exactly–more that ones enjoyment of Quantumania is going to be largely proportional to ones tolerance of this sort of lunacy. My tolerance is pretty high, though not limitless–for others I know it’s a lot lower.
My actual problems with Quantumania are more story-driven. There is a lot of narrative clunkiness, including the fact that so much of the plot as designed is really about Janet, rather than either Ant-Man or the Wasp. That gives Michelle Pfeiffer lots to do, which is fine because she’s great, but means the film has to work hard to keep the ostensible leads–Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas–in the picture (Lilly’s Hope van Dyne is especially sidelined). Part of this hard work is by making Janet resistant to sharing any information at all for a long time. For a while this could be said to make sense, but eventually it just becomes obvious and ridiculous.
The story issues get worse as the film gets into the third act. The big “plan” that the heroes come up with to get through the bad guy’s fortress (which the hero’s seem to think is a clever idea) is just to have Scott grow to the size of a relative giant to spearhead the attack–an incredibly obvious stratagem given the character’s power set. The secondary villain, M.O.D.O.K. (already part of the movie’s bizarre design) has an abrupt and badly motivated change of heart. Janet, who is the focus for much of the movie, just sits around irrelevant and superfluous to things for the last third of the story. Hank Pym serves mostly as a deus ex machina by turning up with super-evolved ants to seal the hero’s victory, but then those ants conveniently leave just in time for the bad guy turns up for a last one-on-one fight with Scott. And the stakes in that battle are strangely low–it looks at first like Scott has given up his chance to return to the normal world by staying behind to fight Kang, but then that turns out to be a big nothing. Scott wins the battle with Hope’s health, and then they just go home no problem.
On the positive note, the movie did a good job introducing Jonathan Major’s Kang. I found the alternate version of character from Loki incredibly annoying, but in Quantumania they did a good job making the character imposing and threatening. I don’t know where they are going with the character–obviously he has a big future in the MCU–but as long as it’s not like we are going to get a different Kang each time (unpleasant shades of Harrison Wells and The Flash), I’m looking forward to seeing his return down the line.
What would have made the movie better? Well, as much as I like Michelle Pfeiffer and appreciate Michael Douglas, it probably would have been better if they hadn’t been sucked into the Quantum Realm with everyone else, and allowed the focus to be more on the Scott-Hope-Cassie dynamic. Jan and Hank could have been struggling to help from the outside, figuring out eventually how to pull off the hyper-evolved ant trick toward the end.
Actually, what would have been really awesome if the group that had gotten pulled in was Scott, Hope, Cassie and FBI special agent Jimmy Woo! He’s my favorite of these recurring MCU characters, and that character mix would have been so much fun to watch. (Actually as I was talking about this with my kids one of the commented that she’d be happy to watch a movie where Scott, Jimmy Woo and Luis (the character Michael Peña played in the first two films) just went on a road trip together.
In the end, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is probably going to be a pretty “important” film in the ongoing development of the MCU (thanks to the inclusion of Kang) but it’s not likely to be a very memorable one. And it’s probably my least favorite of the Ant-Man movies, in spite of the expanded Michelle Pfeiffer role.
Final thought: have you noticed that each Ant-Man movie just repeats the previous movie’s title, and then adds another word or two to it? Ant-Man, then Ant-Man and the Wasp, and then Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. What’s next?
Ant–Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: Disassembled
Ant–Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: Yellowjacket Unleashed
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: MODOK Ascendant
It could work!
2 thoughts on “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”
I personally liked the movie, especially how it set up the menace of Kang. Much of the division over the movie seems to be between comic purists who don’t like what they did with MODOK and those like me that just got a laugh out of it.
I’m glad you liked it. I’m not a comics purist when it comes to Ant-Man or MODOK, so that’s not where my problems lay. But even though I thought the movie was ridiculous, I mostly still enjoyed watching it.