As someone who has read a lot of comic books (including plenty of Ant-Man stories), Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania felt quite familiar. Not necessarily in terms of following a certain storyline or through comic-based Easter eggs, though. This sense of familiarness was due to its presentation.
The third Ant-Man movie felt closer to the experience of reading a comic book than most Marvel and DC movies do, as its DNA was as wild, silly, and wonderful as a mid-2000s comic run. Let’s look at how Quantumania conveyed such a specific feeling.
It Embraces Comic Book Silliness
Quantumania features a lot of wild and bizarre concepts. Broccoli people, sentient blobs, and the one that seems to be talked about the most, MODOK. The Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing is making waves for looking very silly and ugly, and I have to tell you, that’s completely comic-accurate.
Despite encountering the AIM leader in various different mediums, I cannot think of a visually appealing design for MODOK. Whether it’s in his plethora of comic appearances, TV show adaptations, or his numerous video game roles, MODOK just looks dumb and ugly. It’s his whole thing, and I’m glad Marvel Studios didn’t try to make him “cool” beyond the helmet/mask that is even closer to his original comic look. I figured MODOK would never be in a live-action movie because of how cartoonish and unappealing his design is, so I think Marvel made the right call by introducing him in one of their weirdest films.
Outside of MODOK, you have Hank Pym driving a spaceship with sentient sleeves of slime. There’s gross ooze that makes you fluent in all Quantum Realm languages upon ritualistically ingesting (or just drinking it at a bar). It ends with a council of Kangs, all looking completely different from one another, cheering about multiversal conquest like they’re at the Super Bowl. Quantumania is unapologetically weird, which is as comic book-y as it gets.
The Look of the Quantum Realm
After only briefly seeing the Quantum Realm’s aesthetic in previous movies, I was glad to see how committed Marvel was to feature wild and colorful visuals in Quantumania. Though it’s certainly a different type of psychedelic than something like Doctor Strange, there’s a Steve Ditko-esque flavor to Quantumania‘s Quantum Realm that brings to mind the wild visuals that comics can often create. From the strange residents of the Quantum Realm to its otherworldly backgrounds, flora, and fauna, the Quantum Realm is visually unique in a way that superhero movies don’t always embrace.
The Quantum Realm is based on the Microverse of Marvel Comics, though the name seemingly couldn’t be used due to its association with the Micronauts and the entire legal mess involving that comic/toy line and Hasbro’s ownership of it. Even if the name is different, I was happy to see a bit of inspiration was taken from how the Microverse was portrayed.
Every Character Has a Story of Their Own
Not only does every character in Quantumania have something to do, but these stories are quite distinct. Hope, Hank, and Janet go on their own journey — one that I found to be surprisingly interesting. They communicate with Quantum Realm residents in a Mad Max-esque setting, ride alien creatures through the sky, narrowly escape a Bill Murray-instigated bar fight, and find an army of huge intelligent ants.
Much like in comic runs, it felt as though these adventures could be happening on their own, like the sort of story you’d check in on for an issue after a couple of issues of Scott’s confrontation with Kang. Everybody in Quantumania got to do something important to the central plot and received a good deal of time dedicated to their storylines, bringing to mind the multi-faceted storylines of comic events led by all different characters.
The Ominous Cliff-hanger Ending
Most Marvel movies end with a generally upbeat tone. There are exceptions, of course, but typically, the heroes have won and get to either take a well-deserved break or prepare for their next high-flying adventure. Quantumania begins to end like this but gets a bit dourer as Scott considers Kang’s warnings.
As Scott nervously wondered about whether he did the right thing in defeating Kang, I could vividly picture the smaller and smaller text boxes in my head that would accompany such a scene in a comic book. It’s a bit hard to explain, but Scott’s narration brought to mind the endings of Marvel storylines that tease that things aren’t quite over.
Setting Up the Next Big Event
Finally, it’s obvious that Quantumania would set up further Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. That’s the MCU’s thing, at this point. But the post-credits scene, which features the Council of Kangs taken directly from the comics, feels like the end of a comic issue in a different way than the movie’s actual ending did, teasing the next big event that will affect characters outside of the Ant-Man family.
As I mentioned earlier, the concept of a multiversal council of one character’s variants is already very comic book-esque, but the way it was presented and set up the major overarching threat of future Phases was different than the very cinematic scene that followed Avengers and teased Thanos. Partially due to the visual being ripped directly from a comic and partly due to the idea being a bit more “out there” than Thanos, that post-credits scene had me ready to see if Marvel Studios is going to continue to embrace this comic tone in future MCU entries.