Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania blasts our heroes into the Quantum Realm for a new adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This superhero film kicks off Phase Five of the MCU and features Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his now-grown daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) as they travel to an unfamiliar realm and take on a new foe known as Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). Despite Marvel’s track record of providing fun, easily digestible entertainment, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicks off Phase Five with a whimper, providing an overstuffed, lifeless superhero extravaganza that exists to set up more in the future.
What made the first two Ant-Man films successful? Those movies were intentionally small-scale with low, lighthearted stakes. As a result, they’re funny, breezy, and rewatchable. This movie entirely forgets what made the first two work, throwing Ant-Man into a CGI-filled world of colorful creatures. An adventure almost wholly set in the Quantum Realm leads to a movie that feels like a Star Wars prequel. Part of an Ant-Man film’s appeal is seeing the hero interact with objects and environments familiar to us, like a Thomas the Tank Engine toy or a Hello Kitty Pez Dispenser. But with an entirely CGI environment, the superpowers on display lose their X factor and humor.
This movie loses every sense of realism that the first two had by taking every scene and filming it in The Volume. Everything feels artificial, with every scene filmed in front of what looks like an LED screen. While the opening few scenes retain a few of the comedic elements the Ant-Man movies are well-known for, we are quickly thrown into a large-scale, high-stakes adventure that throws all character development out of the window. Quantumania‘s only focus is to have an action-packed experience that establishes a big bad who will return in the future.
The trailer sold this film on the premise that Scott is regretful of all the years he did not get to be with Cassie, as he did not get to see her grow up. Unfortunately, this element barely exists within the film. While the father-daughter element has always been the heart and soul of the series, this movie only scratches the surface. The characters get sucked into the Quantum Realm because of Cassie’s tinkering with technology, but her motivation for doing this is weak and we never see her regret this. Furthermore, she expertly wields an Ant-Man suit despite never having on-screen training or practice.
Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) plays an instrumental role in Quantumania, but she often conceals vital information under the cliché excuse of “I didn’t tell you to protect you.” She’s terrified about the prospect of sending a signal to the Quantum Realm because she knows of the dangers that exist down there. However, this feels like a contradiction of the post-credit scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp, when she confidently helped send Scott to the Quantum Realm, where he stayed for five years. Not only is it inconsistent, but when the movie is so plot-driven, it never slows down to explore the people driving the story forward. Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) are flat, two-dimensional characters.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania also has an issue with its villains. Kang is set to be the MCU’s new big bad after Thanos, following his first appearance in the season 1 finale of Loki. However, for the film’s first hour, he only exists in flashbacks. In the second hour, he takes on a much grander role, where we get a sense of how dangerous and ruthless he is. You get the sense that he is the most powerful villain the Avengers will have to face, although his motivations feel weak. He is a power-hungry villain and not much more, despite Majors’ fantastic performance elevating every scene he is in.
But the secondary antagonist is MODOK (Corey Stoll), whose translation from comic book drawings to live-action is hilariously awful. He looks like a joke, acts like a joke, and is often treated like the miscalculation of a character design that he is. MODOK is such a goofy villain that every time he is paired with Kang, it creates a jarring tonal contrast, as we have the MCU’s most terrifying villain matched with their most idiotic. Furthermore, Bill Murray appears in a humorless cameo that feels like he showed up for a day, said a few lines, and collected a paycheck.
While the action sequences of the first two Ant-Man films were a highlight because of how they played around with scale, this movie has poorly edited shootouts and does not feature a single standout set piece. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is so filled with visual spectacle that, at some point, it all begins to feel like noise. Although the movie benefits from a strong hero and villain, it feels like such a jarring departure from the first two installments that it loses sight of what makes Ant-Man work. By putting an Avengers-level threat into an Ant-Man film, the charm is gone, and all we’re left with is an emotionally empty barrage of special effects with less of the humor and joy that allowed these movies to shine in the first place.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 4 equates to “Poor.” The negatives outweigh the positive aspects making it a struggle to get through.