‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ a bizarre start to Marvel’s next phase

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ a bizarre start to Marvel’s next phase

'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania' a bizarre start to Marvel's next phase

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It’s time for another Marvel movie, and I guess it’s Ant-Man’s turn. Let’s welcome back the little superhero whose main superpower is Paul Rudd’s over-the-top charm, and whose main weakness is that everyone always puts him down – even the creators of his own movie.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in theaters now. It’s an airy, bizarro sci-fi adventure in the mold of Thor: Ragnarok, as familiar faces from the Marvel roster stumble into an alien realm to have fun and fight before inspiring the locals to rise up. and overthrow a hateful dictator. It also holds greater significance for dedicated fans, introducing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s major new villain, Kang, played by Jonathan Majors.

After rescuing Janet van Dyne from the Quantum Realm in the previous Ant-Man and the Wasp movie (and you’d be forgiven for not remembering anything from that movie), Ant-gang is sucked into the itty-bitty universe below the Atoms. of our life-size world. Returning director Peyton Reed casts Evangeline Lilly again as Hope van Dyne, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas as her parents Hank and Janet. Kathryn Newton plays the now-teenaged Cassie Lang, Scott’s daughter, and in the quantum realm they meet William Jackson Harper, Katy O’Brian and Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray).

It’s funny to think that the Ant-Man story started in 2015 with a movie that was basically a heist with a final showdown in a kid’s room. By this third film, the action has expanded into the microscopic yet larger-than-life Quantum Realm, a subatomic CG realm of impossible skies populated by insect-inspired creatures, talking slime creatures, and dudes with lightbulbs for heads. The weirdness of the micro-Mad Max setting makes for entertaining jokes, striking visuals, and a stunning set or two. It’s all very John Carter from Mars through sci-fi comics like Heavy Metal and Saga (or if those references don’t ring a bell, Star Wars).

Cassie’s signal to the Microscopic Quantum Realm kicks off the story as the Ant family is sucked into this strange realm, like another planet on the head of a pin. This is very bad news for Janet, who spent 30 years trapped in microscopic form. Old enemies come for her and her family, forcing her to face what she has done in exile.

Cassie (Newton) is the heart of the film, Hank (Douglas) does the science, and Janet (Pfeiffer) is the plot powerhouse whose worst nightmare catches up with her. Meanwhile, Rudd’s character, Scott Lang, is… also there, I guess, though he’s far from the most interesting character. It takes years for Scott to do anything of significance, and Rudd seems bewildered but still on the verge of cracking a happy joke. Even MODOK, a comic book character too ridiculous for any other film, has a more emotional background than the supposed hero.

If Quantumania isn’t quite sure what to do with Ant-Man, it Really don’t know what to do with the other title character. Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne, aka the Wasp, is featured as a world-changing scientist – who is mentioned as a tangent in a voiceover about Lang’s travels for coffee and selfie requests. Hope spends the film either hanging around her mom or powering herself up to save the day (never seeming to get any credit for it). I’d be surprised if Lilly had more than 30 lines in Quantumania (most of which are like “Keep going!” and “Scott, I can’t hold them back!”).

Much more attention is given to the villain of the play, Kang, another miniaturized exile in the Quantum Realm played by Jonathan Majors. He’s by far the best thing about the movie, a wistful, soft-spoken magnetism dictator who casually mentions how many Avengers he’s killed across the multiverse.

Because Quantumania is the start of a new chapter for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, kicking off Phase 5, that means Kang is the new MCU villain that will cause our heroes trouble for years to come (check out these scenes post -credits).

Fans have been primed for the arrival of Kang, who was first seen in the Disney Plus series Loki, and the film does a great job introducing the villainous characters to new viewers. Still, the number of times the characters refuse to divulge crucial information to chain the supposed suspense (“No time to explain!” “We eat first…” and “I’m trying to protect you!”) gets quite boring.

Quantumania sets up the future of the MCU and manages to integrate other larger themes as well. The film opens with Scott marveling at how big he’s grown – in terms of fame, anyway. But he takes advantage of his status as an Avenger, enjoying the benefits without thinking about the real problems of the world. Meanwhile, his daughter Cassie shakes his complacency as she becomes a political firebrand. And while it’s only a few lines of dialogue here and there, Quantumania espouses some of the most politically charged opinions to sneak into a Marvel blockbuster. The film opens with a fairly explicit critique of the incompetent police dealing with the homeless in San Francisco, for example. The larger, more general theme is the strength of the little guy, even in the face of overwhelming power.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a whole lot of fun, carried by a charming band of wacky heroes thrust into a weird and wonderful world to take on a villain big enough to change the entire franchise. The plot might not be innovative, but the trippy visuals and interesting themes prove that bigger isn’t always better.


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