Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania review (2023)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fantastic introduction to the MCU’s next big bad, Kang the Conqueror, but a lot of the rest of the film leaves plenty to be desired.

Phase 4 of the MCU is unquestionably a mixed bag for most of the fandom. Although I tend to fall on the side of those who enjoyed most of what was released during this phase, I also understand and, in many ways, agree with the criticism of these films and shows. I’ll forever be grateful for what came out of this because of movies like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man: No Way Home, as well as incredible shows, including WandaVision, Moon Knight, and Loki. There’s a lot of other things I thoroughly enjoyed as well. I was hoping phase 5 would kick off this new era of films catering more to the great things that came before it rather than the bad. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania isn’t bad. In fact, there’s some good, especially how it sets up everything to follow it, but I found myself underwhelmed and disappointed with most of what I saw.

The obvious spotlight is the introduction of Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, who is simply fantastic in this role. He’s more menacing than I ever thought he would be, his character is incredibly layered both in temperament and personality, and he’s physically imposing thanks to Majors’ physique. It’s safe to say, the future of the MCU, at least for the foreseeable future, is most definitely in good hands as long as he’s the one wreaking havoc in every possible universe. Unfortunately, Kang really is the only major bright and positive spot in this movie. As I was watching, I was anxiously awaiting when he would finally arrive because I felt a bit checked out and uninterested with the build-up.

I thought being in the Quantum Realm would be more interesting and make you feel like you can get lost in that world, but I felt most of the set pieces were boring and uninspired. I can definitely see the parallels to Star Wars with the areas they travel to, the characters who live there, and the tech/weapons they use, but it never feels as real or awe-inspiring as the worlds and characters in Star Wars make them seem to be. I had similar criticisms with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s portrayal of Talokan. The thought of it felt so immersive and large in scale, but what they really show you pales in comparison. Kang’s colony/fortress (notice how most of the positive things about this film deal with Kang) was great though. Then again, most of it feels more like exposition without any real substance or style. It doesn’t help the special effects are wildly inconsistent. Some scenes are stunning, but there are also others that are, from a visual perspective, very bad. I would hope in a film where the whole setting is CGI, it would at least have visual effects going for it, but even that isn’t a constant.

Even some of the new characters aren’t very memorable. There’s one in particular I got quite a kick out of, but almost everyone else is dispensable and forgettable. Even Bill Murray is incredibly underutilized. He’s only in the film for about 10-15 minutes.

The story only seemed interesting whenever it’s telling Kang’s story and pushing along his agenda. I didn’t really find any of the other plot points engaging or thought-provoking. It’s one of those things where you know the potential of one strong narrative block is going to be explored in future films, but everything else is simply filler and unimportant.

Aside from Kang, there are only two other characters I really enjoyed, which are MODOK and Janet van Dyne. I’ll spare the details with MODOK since it can get into spoiler territory, but based on the character’s actual design in the comics and his story arc, I think it made sense. I already know there’s going to be a ton of controversial opinions regarding how he looks, but again, it didn’t really bother me. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet van Dyne was a massive highlight for me. She’s given plenty to do in this movie and it worked very well for me based on the story Quantumania was trying to tell.

Kathryn Newton’s Cassie Lang was very disappointing and I think most of it has to do with the writing. There are certain scenes where her line delivery is simply awful. Again, it’s hard to make some lines work when the writing is this poor. Everyone else, I guess, serves their purpose in the movie. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas’ respective characters all have some cool moments, but none of these moments really elevate the overall viewing experience the way I expected them to.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that Kang was simply in the wrong movie. There are far too many conflicting themes and tones going on and it’s evident when he’s around. The cheesy dialogue really detracts and steals from a handful of scenes that could’ve been better. If Quantumania is a sign of what to expect from phase 5, aside from Kang, of course, then I’m starting to get a bit worried about the future of the MCU.

Once again, it’s not that Quantumania is a bad movie, but it could’ve been so much better, and it’s time to hold Marvel Studios accountable for the production it’s putting out. It’s no secret why Kevin Feige is scaling back on the quantity of this entire universe and starting to focus a bit more on the overall quality moving forward. Being average is simply not good enough, and we, as a fandom, know it can all be so much better based on what we’ve already seen in the past.

I’m sure most fans, like me, will love Kang, and I really do hope the movie works for you. As for me, although there are quite a few things that work, most of it doesn’t. The best thing it does is set up the future of this entire universe, and unfortunately, a movie should stand on its own as a good story rather than being a starting point for something else. Stick around for the post-credits scenes, that’s for sure.

Score: 6.5/10


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