Movie review: More multiverse madness in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”

Weirdly enough, hearing the mixed response to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania made me even more curious to see the film. How would I feel about this somewhat polarizing movie? Would I love it? Hate it? End up falling somewhere in between?

I always respect when a franchise film is willing to take creative risks and try something new and even a little bit outrageous. Regardless of how you feel about the MCU’s phase 4 (and upcoming phase 5, which launches with Quantumania), I think we can all agree that the MCU hasn’t been afraid to take chances in this new era. Instead of just resting on those post-Infinity War and Endgame laurels, the MCU has proven it’s willing to dive bravely into the multiverse, willing to take the franchise into some weird, wild, and uncharted territory. 

Quantumania definitely is a weird and wild movie, packing a whole lot of content and plot twists into its relatively streamlined two-hour runtime. Some of what we see on-screen really works, and some of it doesn’t. But this movie is never boring, and it’s a film well worth seeing and discussing for MCU fans.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Paul Rudd, and it’s always a delight seeing him in the MCU. Yet it’s Jonathan Majors and Michelle Pfeiffer who steal the show here, as the villain Kang the Conqueror and the original Wasp, respectively. 

I was captivated by Jonathan Majors’ role within this new MCU storyline the second he strode confidently onto the screen in the Disney+ Loki show. He’s the sort of actor with a presence and charisma that immediately commands your attention, and even when the script for Quantumania falters, Majors’ performance never does. 

After seeing Quantumania, I’m both thrilled and nervous about the possibilities that Kang’s character brings to the MCU. I’m very excited by the concept of Majors playing a potentially endless selection of Kang variants; this is a villain completely different from Thanos, who defined previous eras of the MCU.

However, the whole multiple Kangs could prove to be an unwieldy concept, one that might be challenging for general audiences to keep up with. Kang’s defeat in this film also seems a bit underwhelming, although my perspective on the film’s ending could change once I see how this movie fits into the overarching story being told by the MCU. 

Another important note: this film may carry a lot less weight for those who haven’t seen the Loki series. More so now than ever, those who haven’t seen every MCU movie and Disney+ series will be missing key context for plot developments. Is it smart to expect audiences to watch all your content in order to engage with any of it? I don’t know that there’s necessarily a right or wrong answer here. I love the fact all these movies and TV series connect and that each story really does matter to the overarching narrative, but I worry that casual fans might start to tap out. Again, only time will tell if this strategy will pay off!

As mentioned previously, my other favorite character in this film was Janet van Dyne, a.k.a. the original Wasp. It was really cool to see Michelle Pfeiffer and Jonathan Majors playing off each other, first bonding as survivors and then turning into enemies.

I also loved everything about the Quantum Realm and what a cool setting it was for a story. It felt like the perfect blend of the MCU and Star Wars and I hope we return there for future movies or TV shows. I loved the environments and creatures, and I wanted to go hang out in that cantina for a while. It reminded me of the cantina at Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World. 

Some of the things about this film that didn’t work for me, however:

  • Much of the CGI was breathtaking and beautiful in IMAX, but there were several shots that screamed “actors standing in front of a greenscreen.” These instances pulled me out of what was generally a visually impressive movie. 
  • Speaking of visual effects, I really didn’t dig anything about M.O.D.O.K. The visual effects were off-putting, and the character was too silly to be taken seriously. His redemption didn’t feel earned, and the oddly comedic tone of his death scene didn’t work for me at all.
  • Again, it feels like Kang was defeated way too easily. I know this is just one variant, but if he’s going to be the “big bad” going forward, the end of this film should have been more somber/chilling. 
  • Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp feels really underused in this film. 

In short, my feelings about Quantumania probably won’t solidify until the end of phase 5, because some things that bother me now may be explained away/resolved by future stories. Or, it’s entirely possible that we’re starting to see some cracks in the foundation of the MCU that filmmakers need to be wary of. 

I know phase 4 has been polarizing, but for me, I’m glad to see the experimentation. Even if not all of it works, some of it has been truly wonderful. I know I’ve said it before, but Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and WandaVision are some of my favorite stories in the entire MCU. If phase 5 wants to keep up this trend, I’m on board. 

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