Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Marvel’s latest is another confused and convoluted affair
Four years on from the big Marvel finale that was Avengers: Endgame (2019) and the Disney studio has still not found its footing or direction. With each subsequent film and TV show, the tight-nit storyline that made watching Marvel movies such an event is becoming undone. This has not been mended with the latest Marvel entry: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023).
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania finds our heroes enjoying day-to-day life in San Francisco; Scott (Paul Rudd) has come out with a memoir, his partner Hope (Evangeline Lilly) is thriving at the head of her company, even Hope’s parents, Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) are enjoying their reunion. However, when Scott’s troublesome daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) opens a portal into the sub-atomic quantum realm, they’re all sucked into it. In it, they meet the fearsome conqueror of worlds, Kang (Jonathan Majors).
Peyton Reed returns to complete his Ant-Man trilogy, albeit at with a larger budget than the previous two films. The first Ant-Man (2015) was a fun heist film, with its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) proving entertaining if forgettable. The diminishing returns seem to have been exacerbated with the expanded scale of Quantumania, however. It seems that Marvel only makes $200 million budgeted films nowadays, with the majority of Quantumania taking place in CGI settings with CGI characters. This, along with the inconceivable necessity for more world-building (how is this possible after 31 Marvel Cinematic Universe films?), makes Quantumania feel like an offshoot wannabe franchise starter.
Reed seems to lose his grip on the reins of Quantumania as a director; the entire film seems to have been directed by corporate direction. There is an attempt to make a throughline regarding Scott and Cassie’s relationship, but the lack of character work done on Cassie and the little chemistry between the two actors makes for an indifferent viewing. The supporting characters seem to be dragged into the narrative out of contractual necessity. Evangeline Lilly is given practically nothing to do, while Michelle Pfeiffer is used solely as an exposition dump. Only the pure charisma of Jonathan Majors as the villain, spins some intrigue from the generic lines and story; he’s supposedly pitched to be the next big Marvel baddie after Thanos, and it'll be exciting to see what else he has in store.
Quantumania feels like the concept for an entire new film trilogy, or an expensive TV season, only that it’s mashed into a single movie. We are introduced into an entire world with different factions, histories, lore, rules, and conflicts and have decades of information thrown and solved within a couple of hours. It’s overwhelming and sloppily put together. The editing in Quantumania is a mess, with sequences cutting in the middle of dialogue to jump to a distanced group, only to come back again and finish the original scene. Other times we are left wondering how characters got to a certain place or obtained an important object. The entire affair feels like an unplanned and rushed project where hopes rested on the star power of its actors and the quality of visual effects.
The visual effects in Quantumania are impressive enough, if overwhelming in its amount. Much was promised about the kaleidoscopic visuals from previous peeks at the quantum realm in Ant-Man films, and yet it seems to have been ignored for cookie-cutter “alien planet” designs. Likewise, the action with different ray guns and beams of light is nothing one hasn’t seen before in hundreds of other science-fiction films.
In the end, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania feels like another stumbling and confused step in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which seems to be wandering aimlessly after its grand finale four years ago. The visual effects, generic action, and narrative will be enough to entertain some, but for others it will prove extremely forgettable.