Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the thirty-first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first piece of the fifth phase of films. It is easily the best of the Ant-Man trilogy.
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return as the title characters of a film that moves with the confidence of an established sub-brand. Over the years the family friendly corner has been getting more mature and more impactful on the events of the wider fictional universe – without navigating the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp there would be no technology to gather the stones in Avengers: Endgame. It is not an overstatement to say that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will alter the multiverse ever further.
The five core heroes of the film are Scott Lang / Ant-Man, Hope Pym / the Wasp, Hope’s parents Hank Pym / the original Ant-Man and Janet Pym / the original Wasp, and Scott’s teenage daughter Cassie Lang. The different pairings and trios that form from this group show different sides to each character and make for dramatic and well-rounded performances.
There is no weak link to the principal cast. Paul Rudd takes a more serious and deliberate tone to his character on his fifth time around. Evangeline Lilly can do this with her eyes closed. Michael Douglas is having a great time and Kathryn Newton is keeping pace with experienced pedigree. And Michelle Pfeiffer and Jonathon Majors were in a different league altogether.
KANG. How and why would the villain of Avengers 5 feature in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania? It is a big coup the little series that could… and amazingly it fits the plot like a glove.
One of the throughlines of the series has been about Janet going subatomic in 1987. Her presumed death informs a lot of the relationships in the series and saving her ends up being the central objective of the second film.
Quantumania tells the middle piece of this story: a brilliant heroic scientist rebelling against a dictator she once trusted and the choices she made to ensure he would never reach her home universe. The funny series never swerves at the proposition that Kang will burn the world or that Janet is an epic equal opposition to him. It knows when to be quippy and when to be dramatic most of the time.
It’s hard to know what to say about M.O.D.O.K. The villain is a comics staple and weaving him into the MCU is harder than it sounds. The choice to tie the character to Ant-Man villain Yellowjacket pays off a fan theory in a weird way that doesn’t always land. As a secondary antagonist and a thorn in the side of the junior character there are times when it almost gets there but it’s so tonally different to Kang’s performance that it pulls a great film down to a quite good film.
The rebels within the Quantum Realm also feels a bit Monsters Inc. at times. There’s nothing wrong with the Pixar film but do the same themes belong alongside Kang the Conquerer?
It’s too good to spoil here but it’s everything that fans want. As engaging as Loki and as brutal as Thanos, this is an Avengers-level threat that will test the limits of Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and the rest. The movie has to have it’s cake (a victory) and eat it too (Kang will return!) and Paul Rudd’s charm almost carries it over the line without becoming a Star-Lord level fail.
The great thing is that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is only strengthened by the wider universe rather than beholden to it. It is first and foremost the end of the Ant-Man trilogy and that is a better proposal than a lot of people give it credit. It may not make a billion dollars – although it might – but it completes a whole story in a really satisfying way while still leaving the door open for further Avengers adventures.