Review of Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania: Too Big for Its Own Good


Max Knight

*Minor Spoilers*

The first of Marvel’s Phase 5 movies has arrived, and its title is more of a mouthful than ever; Ant Man and The Wasp: Quantumania entered theaters this last weekend. However, the reception by critics and audiences alike has already been less than welcoming. Scoring the second-lowest Rotten Tomatoes score in the entire cinematic universe, the response to the third film of the Ant-Man trilogy perhaps indicates that Marvel’s popularity is shrinking. Though the entry attempts to grow the Ant Man universe on a grand, multiversal scale, Quantumania simply crumbles under the weight of its own story. Unfortunately, the entry is left feeling pointless and small.

Whereas previous Ant-Man entries stayed somewhat within the heist genre, Quantumania delves into sci-fi adventure. The bulk of Quantumania takes place in the Quantum Realm: a vast, microscopic universe that exists between atoms. The movie introduces enormous worlds and civilizations filled with all kinds of odd creatures and people. Such a world seems ripe for an exciting, large-scale adventure story, and Quantumania certainly tries. After Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) and his family (Katherine Langford, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Michael Douglas) become stranded in the Quantum realm, we’re introduced to a realm-wide conflict between the native people  and the domineering regime of multiversal conqueror Kang (Jonathan Majors). It’s high-stakes and weighty, and unfortunately, the film isn’t up to the task, visually or otherwise. Despite some conceptually neat visual ideas, the Quantum Realm is often downright ugly to look at, poorly rendered and coated in bland, gray color correction, and its action is as generically filmed as it gets. However, the primary problem lies in the film’s characters. Previous movies centered on Ant-Man have been small-scope, low-stakes, lighthearted romps based on the fun of seeing things we recognize become big and then small again. When transplanted into an otherworldly space opera, that formula just doesn’t work. The central conflict and world are barely developed. Despite many allusions to themes of “fighting for the little guy”, the film barely gives any attention to any character that isn’t Scott, least of all the nameless revolution he meets upon entering the realm. Worst of all, outside of the scenes with Kang (which are often electric; Majors really tries his hardest with weak material), the film often interrupts itself with poorly placed humor that kneecaps any sense of weight the film has, represented best by Kang’s second-in-command M.O.D.O.K., a supposed fearsome killing machine who’s too goofily designed and too derided by the characters to actually hold any weight as a threat. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania attempts to take the MCU a bold step further in the direction of the multiverse, but in the end, it fails to convince audiences why they should care about that.