It’s time to make things small again, or big, or small, or big. It’s complicated. Let’s talk about Ant-Man, The Wasp, and their adventures of the weird in Quauntumania.
First off, I do not live under a rock. Even though I strive to watch these movies as early as I can, “real” critics will beat me to it, and boy howdy, do real critics hate this movie. When I saw the ones I trust the most trashing it, I started to get worried. But I watched anyway, because that’s how I do, and… this movie is actually one of my favorite MCU movies in a while. The critics are wrong on this movie. Ignore them.
Where to start? There’s a lot going on with this movie. While the previous two films felt relatively small in scope, this one is much larger (though also smaller since they’re in the quantum realm). This makes less time for Ant-Man style shenanigans as it creates a universe we’ve never seen, introduces characters we’ve never met, and builds relationships that we didn’t know we needed. All of this while also introducing Kang the Conqueror–the new main villain of the MCU. It’s being asked to shoulder a lot and though I do think it did an admirable job, if I had one critique of the movie it would be that all of this seemed to be just a little more than director Peyton Reed could handle. It seems to get away from him at times.
This is a minor gripe, however, because this movie is held together by its characters–specifically Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors’ Kang. The two of them can sell anything, and despite the vastly different tones of their characters, they butt heads in a believable and satisfying way. If anything, Ant-Man’s humorous and light-hearted approach to conflict befuddles the very serious Kang, giving Ant-Man an edge that he probably doesn’t deserve.
I’m also going to devote a whole paragraph here to Kathryn Newton as Cassie, Ant-Man’s daughter. Because of Thanos and all that nonsense, she’s college-aged(?) now. Newton matches Rudd’s enthusiasm, charisma, and humor. I loved her character, can’t wait to see more, and came to the realization that Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp is kinda just meh as currently portrayed. I don’t blame that on Lilly, necessarily, but Cassie gives us a taste of what Ant-Man could be with a partner who matches his tone. I suspect we’ll see more of Cassie in the future as either Stature or Stinger.
Everyone else largely plays second fiddle to those three, but charming parts by the likes of William Jackson Harper and Bill Murray were delightful. Michelle Pfeiffer made a positive impression, while Michael Douglas seemed a little lost against the green screen sometimes. Then there’s also MODOK, who… well, I’ll let you see that for yourself. He’s something.
All of this great acting is wrapped in a reasonable enough plot set in the quantum realm, which has the freedom to create a world like we’ve never seen. The art direction gives strong “Land of the Lost” or “Journey to the Center of the Earth” vibes, with a hefty pinch of “Star Wars” thrown into the pot. I dug it, but some may find it jarring–some of the choices might have outpaced our capabilities with CG by just a few years.
Those who like the traditional light & small Ant-Man movies may feel cheated, but for anyone who’s invested in the MCU and loves seeing the pieces come together, this movie is sheer joy. If Loki put Kang on the map, Quantumania brings him to the forefront, leaving no doubt that the successor to Thanos will fill the role quite nicely. I can’t wait to see the destruction to follow.
Should you watch it? If you’re invested in the MCU, you must. If not, waiting for Disney+ would be fine. You’ll probably need to watch it eventually, though. It’s an important building block.
Should you take your kids? It’s standard Marvel fare; nothing overly scary for the kids.
What you should watch first: The Loki tv show is the most directly related, but you’d be okay without out. They do recap the important bits for you.