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Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania ★★★



Director: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer

Release Date: February 17th 2023

The Ant-Man franchise has been largely innocuous since its debut in the MCU in 2015. Save for a memorable Michael Peña gag, the Peyton Reed-helmed films have ticked along in a self-contained manner with little consequence. One infinity war, blip, and multiversal split later, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania not only kicks off phase five of the MCU but, after much anticipation, gives the first proper introduction to Jonathan Majors as the new big bad, Kang the Conqueror. 

Quantumania picks up with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), still basking in saving the world but finding himself out of step with the interests of his now teenage daughter Cassie (newcomer Kathryn Newton). Eager to prove her smarts and usefulness as a potential part of the ant-squad, Cassie, with the assistance of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Scott’s partner Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), builds a machine that makes contact with the Quantum realm, a mysterious dimension that exists outside of time. Conveniently (or rather inconveniently for those involved), things suddenly go wrong, and the machine pulls Scott into the Quantum realm along with the whole family, including former Quantum realm prisoner Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). 

What ensues is a curious hash of weird space adventure (essentially Star Wars meets Strange World), hit-and-miss high jinks (M.O.D.O.K is….interesting), and Hollywood’s most enthralling new movie star slapped in the middle of it all. Kang The Conqueror is the timeline decimating supervillain set to bring a reign of multiversal terror to the MCU. Those doing the Olympic slog of watching the related MCU TV shows in addition to the films were rewarded in 2021 when Kang – or a variant of him identified as ‘He Who Remains’ – appeared in the Loki finale and essentially stole all of what was actually quite a good show in its own right. While we’re frustratingly still in the dark on finding out a coherent motivation for Kang’s destruction, Majors brings a menace to the role that is truly something to behold. Gorging on each word, pausing perfectly to let his threats and declarations hang in the air – Majors is a man whose every micro-expression sells Kang’s conviction. 

Majors’ performance elevates a fairly decent Quantumania far beyond where it deserves to go, making it easily the best Ant-Man film in the franchise. However, one man cannot, or rather, should not make the entire MCU. Phase four was rocky for Marvel, and now groaning under the weight of 31 films, multiple spin-off TV shows, and a newer assortment of heroes we’ve yet to care about, it’s not only unfeasible to put the success of this new saga on Major’s shoulders, it’s unfair. 

Quantumania is not the unmitigated disaster of Thor: Love and Thunder. Grading on a curve, it’s goofy fun that finally takes more chances and embraces Ant-Man’s innate offbeat charm to produce the weirdest Marvel film so far. Yet there remain elements of Quantumania that still feel unearned, unexplained, or unrealistic. Jeff Loveness takes on the writing duties, and his credentials as a writer on Rick and Morty bleed into Quantumania in a way that, while amusing, continues a trend of extremely tonally uneven films that leave the audience still confused about what to expect from the multiverse saga as a whole. 

Overall, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania isn’t necessarily a misstep from Marvel, but it’s far from its strongest. A smart investment from the studio in Jonathan Majors (soon to be seen in Creed 3) makes him at once both their villain and their saviour, but at a point where the multiverse hinges on time being everything – Marvel may find that theirs is running out. 

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