Scott Lang/Ant-Man has been one of movie audience’s most endearing characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no doubt largely thanks to the popularity of its seemingly ageless star, Paul Rudd. The human size-shifter (the character, not the actor) is back to kick off a new phase of the MCU in a story that is, at times, a bit too familiar and, at others, not familiar enough.
Five years after the events of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, Scott has become a feted celebrity due to his participation in defeating Thanos. His memoir, Look Out for The Little Guy!, which is a real book apparently, has become a huge success too. Hope van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) has taken over her father, Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas), foundation, using the Pym Particles for humanitarian purposes. Cassie (now played by Kathryn Newton, BEN IS BACK; LADY BIRD), meanwhile, has been secretly working with Hank and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) to create a device that can map the Quantum Realm. When the device malfunctions, the five of them get sucked into the QR. There, they learn that Janet had kept secret some pretty important information from them including her relationships with Governor Krylar (Bill Murray, THE FRENCH DISPATCH) and a time-traveller named Kang (Jonathan Majors, TV’s LOVECRAFT COUNTRY). Kang, who has been trapped in the QR for quite some time, wants the Pym Particles to repair his spacecraft so that he can finally leave and its up to Ant-Man et al to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Since Disney bought Marvel in 2009 and then Lucasfilm in 2012, there has been speculation about the two companies’ IPs crossing over. With QUANTUMANIA, it has finally happened, with scenes, background characters and even costumes borrowing very heavily from the early STAR WARS films. If George Lucas hadn’t sold out to the Mouse, he would have had a solid case for copyright infringement. Unlike those STAR WARS films though, QUANTUMANIA is relentlessly dark, both in its colour palette and in its story. Gone is the breeziness of the two previous ANT-MAN films. Surprising, too, is the CGI, which is quite uninspired and one has to wonder what happened to the synergy that was supposed to take place when Disney bought Pixar in 2006.
Since AVENGERS: ENDGAME, MARVEL has struggled to capture the excitement it once had even as the franchise continues to roll out new characters and rake in billions of dollars. With QUANTUMANIA, MARVEL introduces a new super-enemy who will feature in another two-part AVENGERS film due out in May 2025 and May 2026. Kang, or perhaps one of his multiversal variants, has already appeared in the Season 1 finale of LOKI. QUANTUMANIA also teases audiences that there’s more than one Kang out there. Fortunately, Majors is up to the task as he brings some very watchable nuance to the character.
While Majors is one of the film’s two bright spots (Pfeiffer being the other), Douglas and especially Lilly are blatantly underused, a situation that is all the more strange as her character is featured in the film’s title. Perhaps her very public anti-vax comments have sidelined her participation in future MCU films as it appears that Cassie is going to take over as Ant-Man’s superpowered sidekick going forward. At least QUANTUMANIA brings back one character from the first ANT-MAN film who delivers some welcome levity to this dour story. Another fan favourite, however, is notably absent.
Some people are saying that this is the worst MARVEL film after ETERNALS. That’s quite a statement! While QUANTUMANIA isn’t the dumpster fire that ETERNALS is, it’s not very good. Yes, it does what it’s supposed to do – introduce audiences to Kang, but it unfortunately does it at the expense of what made the other ANT-MAN films so much fun.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA opened in Hong Kong and the US yesterday (February 18). It’ll spread out to the rest of the world in the coming days. If you’re an MCU fan, you’re going to see it regardless of what others may think of it.
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